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Old 23-01-2018, 18:06   #1
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Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

Becoming a full time liveaboard will mean I need reliable internet access, on the boat, when in any harbor that offers a signal. Past experience in the Bahamas and Leewards says a laptop or tablet will not always maintain a usable signal, or any signal in active weather. I always had to go to a restaurant or marina to get anything done. Sometimes I can be on the phone for 6-8 hours a day. Research tells me a booster/ antenna should work for my purposes. If I am correct about Wi-Fi, the problem becomes price. Products range from a few hundred to near $2000. I will spend money to get something reliable, but don't want to pay for more than I need. Any suggestions?
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Old 23-01-2018, 18:13   #2
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

I have an Island Time system and think it was around $300 2 years ago. It was a little more than I could gotten the pieces by themselves, but it was a small amount for putting the package together. It had been well worth what paid, but cell packages I think are quickly making it obsolete
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Old 23-01-2018, 21:13   #3
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

do people actually find open wifi's when boating around? I figured by now everyone has figured out how to set a password on a router
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Old 23-01-2018, 23:03   #4
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

It's really going to depend where you are cruising. I haven't used our high power WiFi for a couple of years now. Cell connectivity is obsoleting wifi for much of the cruiser route.
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Old 23-01-2018, 23:32   #5
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

10yrs ago connecting to a free open wifi was common.

Today, the vast majority have turned on password protection. We'll often use it in marinas but then they give you the password. Even then it's often not good enough to make calls or do other high data consumption tasks.

If you need it for work, it's really not viable.
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Old 24-01-2018, 00:36   #6
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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It's really going to depend where you are cruising. I haven't used our high power WiFi for a couple of years now. Cell connectivity is obsoleting wifi for much of the cruiser route.
Wifi has made a big comeback in Northern European marinas and even small municipal harbors, with good commercial wifi systems installed in many places versus the single consumer router in the HM office which used to be typical.

I don't know about the Caribbean. So my high power wifi system, after being neglected for a few years, is getting used again.

Biggest issue in my experience now is 2.4 ghz interference. Try to connect on the 5 ghz band.

High power wifi is not really needed in a marina. For that, a good USB "long range" wifi card is fine - I use a TP Link one. For high power/long range (like in an anchorage), use a dual band "bullet" type with a good antenna, powered by POE. I use a Routerboard Groove - cost less than 100 bucks.

Mobile data is usually still Plan A. But I use a ton more data these days, so it's great to have an unmetered connection when that's available, which is what makes wifi worthwhile.
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Old 24-01-2018, 01:11   #7
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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Wifi has made a big comeback in Northern European marinas and even small municipal harbors, with good commercial wifi systems installed in many places versus the single consumer router in the HM office which used to be typical.

....
Interesting. The last few marinas we have been in the WiFi was so much slower than the 4G cellnet that it wasn't worth using. Definitely like the unmetered WiFi for big downloads when it's available, but we behave ourselves online and don't view videos. I don't find it a big loss.
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Old 24-01-2018, 01:19   #8
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

I’ve decided to yank my WiFi booster off the boat... became a waste of space as I was not able to connect to WiFi reliably. Upgraded phone to unlimited usage and now no problem.
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Old 24-01-2018, 01:32   #9
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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Interesting. The last few marinas we have been in the WiFi was so much slower than the 4G cellnet that it wasn't worth using. Definitely like the unmetered WiFi for big downloads when it's available, but we behave ourselves online and don't view videos. I don't find it a big loss.
It depends on where and what kind of system they have, and of course what kind of connection. I'm seeing 10mbs or more in many places in Europe these days, which compares well with 3g mobile and is often as good as LTE.

LTE is always fast enough for anything, which is great, but the flip side of that is the tendency to use tons of data. In Scandinavia, mobile data is usually about a euro per gigabyte, and even that can add up, but in other places can be much more
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Old 24-01-2018, 03:17   #10
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

Wifi is hit or miss... this little thingy simulates a SIM card in a hundred+ countries, and makes a wifi hotspot up to 5 devices can connect to at the same time for 8 bucks a day. Fast speed anywhere you get cellular service in most of the world, all automatically connected. Plus it functions like a battery charger when you take it with you onshore (it's the size of a hocky puck)... Worth adding to your bag of connectivity tricks IMHO.

https://www.skyroam.com/solis-global...8aAsBTEALw_wcB
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Old 24-01-2018, 05:10   #11
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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do people actually find open wifi's when boating around? I figured by now everyone has figured out how to set a password on a router
Yes they do. I'm on one right now and there are at least 6 and they are fast enough lots of times to stream video.

In the Bahamas there wasn't unsecured but for a small fee you could sign up, but you wouldn't on the boat without a booster.

While they don't always work, they work often enough in my opinion to have a booster system.
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Old 24-01-2018, 05:30   #12
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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do people actually find open wifi's when boating around? I figured by now everyone has figured out how to set a password on a router
Absolutely .... especially libraries, coffee shops and some schools(probably their library), some cities have certain enterprise zones that have free WIFI, and more available WIFI's to come.

A yagi antenna ... in fact 2 yagi antennas(one for wify the other for cell booster). The yagi has to be directed, but something like 45 degrees or so either side of the aim still works great ... the sides, not so great.
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Old 24-01-2018, 05:39   #13
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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Wifi is hit or miss... this little thingy simulates a SIM card in a hundred+ countries, and makes a wifi hotspot up to 5 devices can connect to at the same time for 8 bucks a day. Fast speed anywhere you get cellular service in most of the world, all automatically connected. Plus it functions like a battery charger when you take it with you onshore (it's the size of a hocky puck)... Worth adding to your bag of connectivity tricks IMHO.

https://www.skyroam.com/solis-global...8aAsBTEALw_wcB

Those used to be throttled after 500mb a day -- is that still the case? 8 euros a day (what they charge here for it) is almost $10 or $300 per month. Even without throttling, that doesn't make a lot of sense in Europe. Don't know about South America or Asia.
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Old 24-01-2018, 07:48   #14
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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Those used to be throttled after 500mb a day -- is that still the case? 8 euros a day (what they charge here for it) is almost $10 or $300 per month. Even without throttling, that doesn't make a lot of sense in Europe. Don't know about South America or Asia.
It makes sense to me. When I land somewhere new I would absolutely pay $10/day to have connectivity right away. Then I can go search for a local SIM at my leisure.

Has anybody used one of these? Looking for some real world experience.
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Old 24-01-2018, 08:00   #15
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Re: Is a Wi-Fi booster/antenna the best choice for VOIP?

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It makes sense to me. When I land somewhere new I would absolutely pay $10/day to have connectivity right away. Then I can go search for a local SIM at my leisure.

Has anybody used one of these? Looking for some real world experience.
Maybe if you can switch it on and off and don't pay anything when you're not using it.

But in Europe, roaming charges are now more or less abolished, so if you have ANY European SIM card, you are covered in any European country. There are fair use limits on how much data out of your home data allowance you can use in other countries, but it is generally several gigabytes. And after you exceed the fair use limit, it costs no more than 9 euros per gigabyte. So for sure you wouldn't need that thing in Europe, but it might be good for other regions. $20 per gigabyte is REALLY expensive for Europe; you can't spend that much with any European SIM card in any European country.

I have several European SIM cards, but my favorite is an Estonian one for which I get 56 gigabytes for 31 euros to be used in any Nordic, Scandinavian or Baltic country, and of which I can use 11 gigabytes in Europe but outside of this region for free. After 11 gigabytes are used outside of this region, I pay 8 euros per gigabyte. I travel constantly all around Europe in my business, but this pretty much covers me, except in the UK where I use a Lebara SIM card and pay about 2 pounds per gigabyte.
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