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Old 08-10-2006, 10:05   #1
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Whats the best offshore internet connection?

I am going to need to have the best internet connection on the boat that I can get. We will require it to be able to cruise and still earn a living.

If cost was a secondary factor, what would one put on a boat for the best long-range and reliable offshore, mobile internet connection for the Bahamas and South?
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:45   #2
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Thats pretty slick. I could use that here at the house, actually, Thanks. It doesnt look too difficult. But how far away can WiFi signals be detected, I wonder. Is it line-of-sight?
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Old 08-10-2006, 16:11   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul
I am going to need to have the best internet connection on the boat that I can get. We will require it to be able to cruise and still earn a living.

If cost was a secondary factor, what would one put on a boat for the best long-range and reliable offshore, mobile internet connection for the Bahamas and South?
Money no object - inmarsat have moved towards data transmission as well as voice.

Globalstar - poor coverage in some of the areas you mention

iridium - cheap to set up, but expensive to run. and slow data rate

sailmail and SSB/Pactor - about the same price to set up, much cheaper to run, but not so good to use and very slow data rate.

http://satcom.neraworld.com/Nera_Com...t____4444.aspx gives you data about a number of different types of inmarsat, and I suspect that the worldphone is going to be the most useful for the single user.
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Old 08-10-2006, 23:21   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul
I am going to need to have the best internet connection on the boat that I can get. We will require it to be able to cruise and still earn a living.

If cost was a secondary factor, what would one put on a boat for the best long-range and reliable offshore, mobile internet connection for the Bahamas and South?
When you say "internet access" do you mean for your computer to connect to the internet, or do you really just want to send email? And if you just want email, do you want to send brief messages of a few paragraphs, or will you send 10k bytes or more?

I had to work out internet access from a boat a few years back. We ended up with Inmarsat Fleet 77 service at a bit under $7/minute for 64 kbps service. No other usable alternative existed at the time. (Iridium could only offer 2400 bps, so was considered "unusable". Intelsat wanted us to install a 12 foot parabolic dish. Other satellite services we looked at only offered email, not internet access.)

Fleet 77 covers 60 N to 60 S. You might also look at Fleet 33 which only covers major land masses and a few hundred miles offshore, including the caribbean.

Quote:
how far away can WiFi signals be detected, I wonder. Is it line-of-sight?
WiFi is line of sight, but uses rather weak signals. Expect a "high power" wifi device to put out 0.2 watts. I've found about 100 meters to be the limit with normal antennas. You can extend that several times with high gain antennas, but it's hardly "long-range" or "offshore".
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:10   #5
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If it's email only you want, check out SkyMate http://www.bminiweb.com/

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Old 09-10-2006, 02:43   #6
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the iridium speed of 2400 bps is very slow, but if you use onspeed and cancel pictures, it is definitely useable.
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:04   #7
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Thanks, but as I said, I need to work out some method of internet access. Its not just email, my wife works in medical software development as a freelance consultant, and she needs to be able to up and download files, and work on web based applications. I am hoping we can do that while on the hook, or while sailing. Worst case, we pull into a harbor with an internet cafe every couple of days, but if thats what we have to do its going to seriously crimp our style, schedule, and ability to go where we want to go.
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:42   #8
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Well then, as Talbot said if money is no object inmarsat
see their site http://broadband.inmarsat.com/
It's what the big boys use. Wish it was in my price range.

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Old 09-10-2006, 04:27   #9
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Thanks George. I looked at their website,and some of their dealers,but so far not a clue as to cost. Still trying to find out, though. I would say, if its something like $ 5,000 its not really an insurmountable issue. If its $ 20,000 well, that starts to change things.
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Old 09-10-2006, 04:40   #10
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Purchase price is only the start. Usage is right up there too. It works great but . . . $$$

It's been a while since I priced it so don't want ot trust my memory.

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Old 09-10-2006, 04:44   #11
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Well, she gets $ 50 an hour, and has all the work she wants. It would be a really nice way to pass the time between dive spots....with me doing the aerial photography....all part of our (hopeful) plan. I am also a very experienced woodworker, shadetree mechanic, done fiberglass work ( I shaped and glassed surfboards commercially, and have fixed many many GRP dings in my life)

Just trying to put it together, but you can see that we need good internet. Not just for her work, but for my photos.
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:17   #12
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I think you are looking for something in a broadband that really isn't affordable in your income bracket. As noted Inmarsat is very usable but still not high bandwidth and very expensive since it is per minute on top of equipment. The gear is $2,900 (plus shipping) and the nominal per MB rate is $9.99/MB or buying in blocks of 500 MB at a rate of $6.99 / MB.

On the low end sailmail (email only) is 30KB max per message with a Pactor III modem over SSB. Only attachments permitted would be a download of a GRB weather file - period. All messages are text only. You also get a rolling 9 minutes per week average useage. That is for $250 per year. That is affordable but only for communications not Internet access or downlaods / uploads of data files.


Adding a high gain WiFi antenna to the strern isn't a bad idea. WiFi is line of sight only and I think the world record is 29 Miles from a mountain to an island off the California coast. I have a friend that does it 5 miles from his home in the mountains of Colorado down a valley to an ISP. That is probably the practical limit. In the US you can buy a cheap high gain directional antenna and find open networks in and around many marinas. So the per MB rate fee is zero. This is not something that could work in quite anchorages. In and around marina condo's it usally works. Someone almost always has an open network because they didn't want to read the directions.

Global world domination has yet to reach everywhere yet. It may be a very good thing.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:07   #13
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Paul,
Thanks for the numbers, thats the kind of info I need to plug into the equation. Obviously for us, email alone is not enough. in fact email would just let us make excuses and set up when our next "real" internet connection would be scheduled.

As for world domination, do you mean you wish that GPS coverage was limited to the continents and immediate surrounding areas only?
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:03   #14
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Check out BGAN.

That may work for you.

Marine antennas are suppose to be available sometime in 2007. Currently you probably could use the system on shore or in very calm anchorage.
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Old 09-10-2006, 13:39   #15
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While the per minute plans get cheaper with 3000 minutes prepaid (a little more than $1 US), the upload speed is not going to be the rate they quote. That would be the download data rate. You may get decent downloads but uploads are not so likely to be so great.
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