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Old 02-08-2013, 15:49   #1
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Internet Troubles

I'm just back from a month-long cruise to South Brittany and many points between there and my home port on the Hamble, South Coast of England.

Five people on board, and everyone with at least three devices needing Internet access -- laptop, tablet, smartphone. That's 15 (count em) nodes on the boat network -- bigger than my first office network not that many years ago -- I think I might need an IT department on board

I have a Ubiquiti Bullet up the mast with Ethernet cable pulled through the mast to the nav table; part of this winter's refit. I did not manage to get it working during my refit and did not manage to get it working during my cruise

In the UK, we were more or less ok using a TMobile sim card installed in a Globesurfer III mobile router. The only problem is that with so many devices, it is simply impossible to prevent some device from sucking down all the bandwidth allowance doing some idiotic automatic update of some idiotic software package, or some such. Fortunately, TMob (bless them) don't cut you off after you consumer your fair use allowance; they merely throttle you. But we were in a nearly permanent state of being throttled.

In France, it was all much, much worse, as the local data plans don't allow you to stick their sim cards into something like the Globesurfer. How they know, I don't know, but none of them works. Besides that, mobile phone SIM cards are treated like gun sales in France, allowed only in certain shops in bigger cities, so it was a real job to find a place to buy one in the first place. I went back to one such shop one day after acquiring such a card to inquire as to how I could possibly have used up 500mb of data in one day, only to be told that i had the wrong plan, and the right plan can't be bought in the official shop. Now you tell me! Only in France.

Everywhere without exception Wifi worked badly. These days, most owners of Wifi AP's shape the signal so that you can only receive it in that marina, that restaurant, etc. The problem is that you can't even receive it there without something extraordinary like a Bullet. In one French town, a paid WiFi account produced throughput similar to a 2400 baud modem. In others, you simply couldn't connect at all. It seems to me that commercial wifi is going the way of the dinosaurs; the best way to get data is from mobile phone networks.

The best PAYG mobile plan we found was in Guernsey, through a company called Sure. A free SIM card, a 5 pound topup, and you get 10 days of connection with fair use of 500 megabytes -- a day! After which you only get throttled. And you keep the 5 pound credit for calls! Brilliant! Works all over the Channel Islands. We were finally decently connected in the CI.

We spent days and weeks at sea and then in remote areas, so when we did get back to something like civilization everyone needed to connect -- not to escape from reality, but to manage bank accounts and do essential things. It was peculiarly hard this year.

I am rethinking the whole business. I am thinking that the mobile networks are the primary source of data, and that the plans should be worked out prior to departure. I am thinking that there should be two plans -- one for guests, and one for the ship, so that we always have access for weather and other mission-critical purposes. I might need to add a second Globesurfer.

I will get the Bullet working this fall, but I have a feeling that Wifi is out. Even if you get a good connection to the AP, the APs don't provide a decent bandwidth or are plagued with bugs, slowdowns, outages, etc. I had very little joy from Wifi this summer. I think that we probably need networks managed by real professionals in order to have decent access -- that is, networks managed by the mobile telephone companies.

I would be interested to know what kind of experiences others had this summer.
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:12   #2
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Re: Internet Troubles

Quote:
The only problem is that with so many devices, it is simply impossible to prevent some device from sucking down all the bandwidth allowance doing some idiotic automatic update of some idiotic software package, or some such.
this problem could be resolved by firewall on Your router (or use another with easiest firewall). It prevent all not allowed traffic. Yes You need some knowledge for correct setup it.

I personally use - TP-Link TL-MR3020 Portable 3G/4G Wireless N CABLE Router + unlocked USB dongle (bought for 15GBP in Selfridges) and WiFi extender from DigitalYacht

For correct setup, You need list of used internet resources (or type of resources) and than setup it.

all plan - team and guest could be setup on one FireWall
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:14   #3
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Re: Internet Troubles

a three dongal works for me!as long as not streaming movies!
£15 for 3gigs is enough for the month
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:21   #4
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Re: Internet Troubles

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I will get the Bullet working this fall, but I have a feeling that Wifi is out. Even if you get a good connection to the AP, the APs don't provide a decent bandwidth or are plagued with bugs, slowdowns, outages, etc. I had very little joy from Wifi this summer. I think that we probably need networks managed by real professionals in order to have decent access -- that is, networks managed by the mobile telephone companies.
Before forking out any more money on alternates, get that Bullet working, and plug its output into a wifi router/switch, and test that out. If there's any reachable access point , the bullet will get it. And a local wifi point on your boat will serve your crew.

Configuring a Bullet from scratch, and setting up your local hotspot can be daunting. If it still eludes you and there are no nerds in your family, ask around. Someone will step up. (Nerds like beer and sailing too)

You're right that you won't always get great bandwidth from a marina, so don't plan on downloading movies...but you will usually get enough connectivity to get bills paid and some emails out, with patience.

Yes cellular data will likely be more dependable. Have one as your fallback, when wifi isn't available. Many smartphones can connect to the cell network, and act as a local wifi hotspot.
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:28   #5
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Re: Internet Troubles

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
Many smartphones can connect to the cell network, and act as a local wifi hotspot.
this is a point where problem return :-)

The problem is - windows and other device, don't understand difference between WiFi from McDonalds or from SmartPhone and use it like home network - autoupdates, send information and etc, if somebody forget switch his notebook for night it can dry Your balance

Of course - we can every time check, switch mobile of and etc, but much easy - control process hardware, "all not direct permitted - is forbidden" and no problem :-)
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:30   #6
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Re: Internet Troubles

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this is a point where problem return :-)
Very true

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Old 02-08-2013, 16:48   #7
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Re: Internet Troubles

VSAT to the rescue! ONLY $40K USD for hardware, a $500 USD/m for a basic plan; of course, if money was no object. Talk is cheap!

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Old 02-08-2013, 16:54   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlad70 View Post

this is a point where problem return :-)

The problem is - windows and other device, don't understand difference between WiFi from McDonalds or from SmartPhone and use it like home network - autoupdates, send information and etc, if somebody forget switch his notebook for night it can dry Your balance

Of course - we can every time check, switch mobile of and etc, but much easy - control process hardware, "all not direct permitted - is forbidden" and no problem :-)
Windows 8 does. Can set it to limit bandwidth on certain networks. Android is a little harder, but set to manual only updates should be ok.
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:58   #9
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Re: Internet Troubles

I have the same setup...well almost. I ran my cat 5 up the mast to where it connects to the Ubiquiti Bullet. And I would actually put it up there, but what about the antenna? How did you secure the antenna to your mast?
to a standing rigging line?

What did you do. I am looking for ideas. All the cables are run. Just need to secure and connect.

thanks
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:59   #10
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Re: Internet Troubles

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Windows 8 does. Can set it to limit bandwidth on certain networks. Android is a little harder, but set to manual only updates should be ok.
it's true just half -
bandwidth - yes, but for all program, including internet

many program has in depended updates, some guest forget switch:
- google drive
- sky drive
- adobe cloud
or hundreds other stuff

I'm know this not in theory :-)
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Old 02-08-2013, 17:46   #11
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My experience in Atlantic France , Spain and Portugal and the western med mirrors that of Dockhead.

The glory days of unsecured wifi is over , most free wifi on marinas is appalling, even the paid system are poor. Elsewhere you have password protected systems that need visits to the establishment . Often the wifi router has failed to initialise properly or has bad dhcp data so nothing works, even though you have a strong signal.

Mobile comms is infinitely better. The only issue being the crazy country specific sims and the bizarre methods that are needed to buy them in some cases. ( France is a particular diaster zone )

The EU is forcing data plan harmonisation and all EU roaming as in effect local networks so hopefully this issue will disappear.

Public Wifi really doesn't hold a candle to it

Dave
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Old 03-08-2013, 13:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlad70 View Post

it's true just half -
bandwidth - yes, but for all program, including internet

many program has in depended updates, some guest forget switch:
- google drive
- sky drive
- adobe cloud
or hundreds other stuff

I'm know this not in theory :-)
Da Vlad, tak i est' Maybe futile to try to manage Internet for the whole boat
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Old 03-08-2013, 14:06   #13
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Re: Internet Troubles

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Da Vlad, tak i est' Maybe futile to try to manage Internet for the whole boat
Yes, some time - problems of crew members, is just problems of crew members

but some time - it's extremely needed

it's possible (i ne octhen slojno)

of course - it's very depends from situation, is it weekend or holiday sailing or work onboard.

P.S.
In Solent - in mostly place where I been, WiFi work just 100m from Marina Offices
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Old 03-08-2013, 14:58   #14
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Re: Internet Troubles

I think there are 3g devices (modems?) that have an ethernet out port? Plug one into any router and you have a wifi AP onboard. I think the one we used was a Netgear.

Wifi is facing huge challenges with so many people using mobile devices, esp. phones that offer PAID access to 3g Internet.

b.
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Old 04-08-2013, 00:48   #15
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Re: Internet Troubles

I just bought a 3G/4G broadband with 2GB data and a months network access for A$70. It connects to 5 other devices by WiFi. Have it connected to 2 computers without any problems. I just have to figure how to switch it on and haul it up the mast each time I want to use it. I had been researching modem/routers and was having problems finding anything not too expensive saw this in the shop and thought I would give it a try. I is worth looking about, new stuff coming out all the time.
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