Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 26-07-2014, 16:22   #1
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Hailing Minny, MN
Boat: Vancouver 27
Posts: 751
Images: 1
Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

I've been looking into cellular amplifiers and/or marine wifi systems. Probably both. Because I'm cruising and rely on remote-based IT work, I'm willing to sacrifice the simplicity and serenity of not having this stuff on board

Anyway, I am hoping others here might be able to chime in with advice, recommendations or warnings..

I've been looking at something like this from Wilson Amplifiers: Wilson 801201-B Wilson Mobile +50dB Amplifier Kit for Boats
However, instead of this kit, I'd want the amplifier to be a 4G compatible and want a direct connection with low-loss cable instead of wireless (for a number of reasons). Also of note, the amplifier is dual band supporting all major US carriers as well as the MHz freq used in the bahamas and elsewhere in the world.

Activecaptain has done a great write-up on cellular and boats: https://activecaptain.com/articles/m...oostSignal.php


On the wifi end, I was thinking something along the lines of Ubiquiti Bullet or Mikcrotik Groove as seen here: Marine WiFi Systems

My understanding is that I could mount both antennas in close proximity to each other (and the VHF) because they all operate on different frequencies.

Any advice or recommendations would be much appreciated.
__________________

__________________
laika is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 05:41   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SW Florida
Boat: FP Belize, 43' - Dot Dun
Posts: 3,424
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Just a caution on cellular amplifiers. IMO, there is way too much variability in the rf spectrum to find a 'one size fits all' amplifier. For example, LTE in the 700mhz range, UMTS in the 1.8ghz range, and who knows what is next. In my limited US coastal experiences, I have never found an anchorage that had zero cell signal on a regular device (AT&T). I would think a mifi device with external antenna capability would be a better choice.

I prefer Ubiquity over Microtik, I like the UI better.
__________________

__________________
DotDun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 06:44   #3
One of Those
 
Canibul's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Turks and Caicos Islands
Boat: Catalac 12M
Posts: 3,209
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Glad you started the thread, I'm also looking for an amp for mobile hot spot, in the Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas. I wrote Wilson asking for their recommendation, but no reply as of yet. I looked at that kit, but it includes a bunch of stuff like inside and magnetic antennas, that I don't need. I'm looking for a fixed, dedicated installation on the boat, that will stay on the boat. I was thinking of putting the marine antenna on the spreader.
__________________
Expat life in the Devil's Triangle:
http://2gringos.blogspot.com/
Canibul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 08:07   #4
Marine Service Provider
 
AnchorageGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wherever the boat is!
Boat: Marine Trader 34DC
Posts: 4,618
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

The Wilson Amplifiers are probably the best, but even they have limitations. Some will require you to be within a foot or two of the unit to have any affect and an external antenna will be required, mounted somewhere as high as possible. Read the information carefully on whatever unit you choose and look for real life user reviews. We have two Bullet wifi extenders. One is less than three feet from the VHF antenna and there is immediate static interference when power is applied to the POE for the unit. It will only go away by increasing the squelch. We seldom have the Bullet on while under way and with the second unit, it has not been a problem or we would move it. We also use the Verizon Mifi, but still use the Bullet at least half the time to conserve data use. Chuck
__________________
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
AnchorageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 15:11   #5
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Hailing Minny, MN
Boat: Vancouver 27
Posts: 751
Images: 1
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
Just a caution on cellular amplifiers. IMO, there is way too much variability in the rf spectrum to find a 'one size fits all' amplifier. For example, LTE in the 700mhz range, UMTS in the 1.8ghz range, and who knows what is next.
It seems like the Wilson 4G amplifier gets about as close as possible to covering all the rf bases:
(698-746 MHz, 746-787 MHz, 824-894 MHz, 1850-1995 MHz, 1710-1755/2110-2155MHz) - this covers all the major US carriers--both GSM and CDMA--as well as the 1900 MHz used predominantly in the bahamas (Batelco).

Canibul- I am also looking for a dedicated, hardwired install on the boat. I've read that the wireless setups are not as bulletproof and introduce inefficiencies into the system. I plan on mounting a multi-band marine-grade ext antenna like this one and running low-loss cable directly to the amplifier.

Chuck, thanks for the heads up on possible interference. I have a radar mount in the cockpit where the VHF currently is. I will have the mast down this fall, so the best bet may be to separate the amplifer / wifi antennas from the VHF completely: Either move the VHF to the masthead or mount the other antennas up there and leave VHF on radar mount.

BTW, I'm one of the lucky few who still has an unlimited data plan here in the states. Been holding onto it for dear life Coastal NC is the only place south of Maine where I sometimes don't get a signal. In my mind, cellular data is all I need for near home. I go back and forth with the need for wifi, though I know it would be more valuable once abroad.
__________________
laika is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 16:12   #6
Marine Service Provider
 
AnchorageGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wherever the boat is!
Boat: Marine Trader 34DC
Posts: 4,618
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by laika View Post
BTW, I'm one of the lucky few who still has an unlimited data plan here in the states. Been holding onto it for dear life Coastal NC is the only place south of Maine where I sometimes don't get a signal. In my mind, cellular data is all I need for near home. I go back and forth with the need for wifi, though I know it would be more valuable once abroad.
You should know that all of those with the unlimited plans will be throttled once you reach a data cap set by the Verizon starting next month. So don't be surprised when your connection slows down. Chuck
__________________
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
AnchorageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 17:41   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 324
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Yes AnchorageGuy, I noted that Verison dodge.Throtteling "unlimited".
I recently did thorough research on unlimited and ALL,as of now,Throttle SPEED(bandwidth) or volume in leu.Read thier FAPs.Did not research european cell providers though.

Keep up good researches people and Thanks for info!
I do think "Softbank" or other cell competitors will break through to true unlimited gigs and speed will come to market within a few years.States is LEAST competitive in world.So much for "free market".
__________________
Arthur Garfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-07-2014, 19:56   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 126
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Wilson does make decent consumer grade BDA's. These amps are called bi-directional amplifiers or BDA's. There are other companies that make decent units too like Surecall and to a lesser extent Zboost. You should look into a model that supports the technology and bands of your carrier. Top priority is to not cause interference. I'm not talking about interference to the adjacent VHF radio, but to the cell phone network. It's common for people to install these BDA's with the donor and server antennas too close to each other and the gain all the way up. I'm sure you've heard a microphone feed back on itself if too close the speaker output. The same thing is happening in the BDA, but you can't tell. It's like having someone in a room talking really loudly and everyone else has to speak louder than that one person to be heard. If you're too far away, you won't be heard at all. That's a simple analogy of what happens in a network and why there are more and more restrictions on these devices.

The cellular carrier networks are very smart and keep stats on every call and attempted call. They know when calls fail to setup or drop. I know of a boat in S Fl recently that had an oscillating BDA. Before it was located, it disrupted and/or caused to fail or drop, over 80,000 calls. The carrier knows that a certain percentage of calls are 911 emergency calls. I forget the number, but statistically, quite a few 911 calls were affected. What would happen if it could be proven using those statistics, that your oscillating BDA contributed to delayed emergency services that cost someone their life?

It's imperative that it be installed properly. Get a good one that is type approved and has the circuitry that will shut it down if oscillation is detected. Put the donor and server antennas as far away from each other as you can. They should be mounted in different vertical planes, not one in the cockpit and the other in the cabin ceiling. Put some distance between them and start with the gain set low. Most come with instructions on setup.

As far as which one to choose, it really depends on your carrier, but all of the major carriers have chosen LTE as their 4G technology. ATT & VZ have already started rolling out voice over LTE or "VOLTE". The nature of LTE modulation produces better range than CDMA or UMTS. Don't even consider GSM, it's almost gone and there is very little facility -wise to offer much data over that. Make sure you cover the LTE bands and of course use an LTE device.

As far as companies like "softbank" or other "competitors" breaking in and offering true unlimited data, don't hold your breath. Those companies would have to purchase their own airwaves, or, which is more likely, resell the same stuff you get from the big 4 carriers. There are a few exceptions, but most, such as "tracphone" just resell the big companies' service. That's not a bad thing, but they're not going to give the house away. What the big companies like ATT & VZ would like to do eventually is sell you a bucket of data for all of your services, TV, home internet, mobile, etc, and it would all cost the same and come from the same bucket.
__________________
El Rubio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 05:18   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Boat: 1990 Oyster 55
Posts: 287
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnchorageGuy View Post
You should know that all of those with the unlimited plans will be throttled once you reach a data cap set by the Verizon starting next month. So don't be surprised when your connection slows down. Chuck
Interesting, what is the data cap set at?
__________________
botanybay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 05:25   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Boat: 1990 Oyster 55
Posts: 287
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

I already have the antenna at the masthead (80 feet up) using LMR-400 cable. I am running on Verizon for the most part but my work phone is an iphone on AT&T.

Looking for a great amplifier rather than the least expensive. The Wilson gear looks good and I almost purchased their carrier specific LTE version last year but did not have time.

I am in California for some time. But venture offshore 40+ miles from time to time.

By the time I head out for long term cruising I am sure that all of this will change again.

I am looking at the: Wilson 803670 AG Pro Quint

Unfortunately it comes with an external antenna and the coax to go to the external antenna as part of the kit. I don't see a way to buy it without these (for me throwaway) items.
__________________
botanybay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 06:23   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Boat: 1990 Oyster 55
Posts: 287
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnchorageGuy View Post
You should know that all of those with the unlimited plans will be throttled once you reach a data cap set by the Verizon starting next month. So don't be surprised when your connection slows down. Chuck
Having now read through the details I don't personally have a problem with what Verizon is doing to the system.

If you are in the top 5% of users (not just unlimited users, so this is not a squeeze of just legacy unlimited users) AND the tower in question is experiencing high demand (i.e. 100% of the queue slots are full resulting in an "oversubscribed" condition on that tower at that specific instant) then there are two queues, one for the majority of users (unlimited but not part of the 5%, per GByte plans, etc), one for the unlimited users which are in the top 5% of data users.

The ratio of the available slots provided to each queue is variable (could be 1:1, 2:1, 4:1 i.e. a power of two). This continues until the oversubscribed condition goes away.

This means that everyone gets some data, no one gets completely starved out. It maximizes the "average user happiness" in some sense.

When the network is quiet then everyone (even those in the top 5% of unlimited users) gets everything they can consume.

So, definitely not a CAP. More like, the less you use, the faster you are assured it will go, but even for the highest consumption user if the bandwidth is there you can have as much of it as you want.

As the network speed improves the portion of the time with "congestion" should decrease. Definitely beats a complete cap on data, definitely beats true throttling where a large user is artificially throttled even though there is bandwidth available which could be used.

The devil will be in the details but for all but the most hardcore user I doubt there will be much impact.
__________________
botanybay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 09:00   #12
Marine Service Provider
 
AnchorageGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wherever the boat is!
Boat: Marine Trader 34DC
Posts: 4,618
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
Interesting, what is the data cap set at?
Here are the Verizon criteria for data throttling...

Top 5% of data users (you use 4.7GB of data per month or more).

Enrolled on an unlimited data plan or feature.

Have fulfilled their minimum contract term.

Are attempting to use data on a cell site that is experiencing high demand.

Chuck
__________________
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
AnchorageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 09:07   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Boat: 1990 Oyster 55
Posts: 287
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnchorageGuy View Post
Here are the Verizon criteria for data throttling...

Top 5% of data users (you use 4.7GB of data per month or more).

Enrolled on an unlimited data plan or feature.

Have fulfilled their minimum contract term.

Are attempting to use data on a cell site that is experiencing high demand.

Chuck
The only trick is that the 4.7GB is not a fixed number. It is the top 5% of users so this number could migrate up or down over a given period. It is not clear what the averaging period is and how often the update period is.

They just noted that to get into the top 5% would be 4.7GB/month at the moment.
__________________
botanybay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-07-2014, 14:27   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Southern Tier, NY
Boat: Newport 28
Posts: 253
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Part of why I'm glad I live in a relatively rural place where there's not tower congestion to worry about. The throttle issue came up last year as well, the criteria was listed back then too. Just wasn't sure if/when they were implementing it, or maybe they put it in place in select markets back then and are moving more widespread?

On topic though, the Wilson I use has been very well in my car, and I can only imagine similar results on the boat if I needed. However, there are a lot of options. I use the cradle with a bluetooth speaker, so the cradle is using the phone physically being in it to create the connection is a limitation to some people. But if you don't have to pull the phone from the cradle, I love it. Definite improvement in my experience. I haven't used the proximity antenna (because I use the cradle), but it seems to me it wouldn't be AS effective, but still better than nothing at all.
__________________
-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
https://horizonsfound.blogspot.com/
CharlzO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-07-2014, 14:21   #15
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Hailing Minny, MN
Boat: Vancouver 27
Posts: 751
Images: 1
Re: Marine Cellular Amplifiers and Marine Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
I already have the antenna at the masthead (80 feet up) using LMR-400 cable. I am running on Verizon for the most part but my work phone is an iphone on AT&T.

Looking for a great amplifier rather than the least expensive. The Wilson gear looks good and I almost purchased their carrier specific LTE version last year but did not have time.

I am in California for some time. But venture offshore 40+ miles from time to time.

By the time I head out for long term cruising I am sure that all of this will change again.

I am looking at the: Wilson 803670 AG Pro Quint

Unfortunately it comes with an external antenna and the coax to go to the external antenna as part of the kit. I don't see a way to buy it without these (for me throwaway) items.
I am currently looking at the Yagi version of that for my boat. I have not reached out to Wilson yet, but I imagine they would not have a problem selling the amplifier unit standalone?? I would also want to DC power adapter rather than the standard AC.

If I do end up buying from them, I will need to cobble together my own kit from their various products, as they do not yet offer a 4G version of their standard marine package.
__________________

__________________
laika is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
marine

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Unlock Cellular Modem belizesailor Marine Electronics 1 23-07-2012 07:35
LORAN Coaxial Cable for Cellular? capngeo Marine Electronics 6 14-04-2011 01:56
Femtocells - A Cellular Technology for Boats ActiveCaptain General Sailing Forum 15 19-01-2011 08:04



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 23:38.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.