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Old 30-09-2005, 19:01   #16
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KN:

"Jack and Sean, just the fact that both of you have that kind of info about the Carribean means there is an awareness, which translates to availability."

Huh? Lost me on that one...
My info - or is that awareness? - is very little availability in some places, no availability in most places.

Of course, one thing we're all skipping over is cost. When wifi is scarce and rich boaters are nearby, availability that does exist can be a commercial hotspot. When we stopped in Cascais outside Lisbon - very high end marina, which is why we were out in the cheap seats (aka: anchorage) - the daily fee was 12E or about $15 USD. I ended up finding a community center in downtown Lisbon staffed by a Mayoral candidate's people and wifi there was free, proof that there is usually a way...but it was miles from a boat and took a day to find!

Jack
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Old 30-09-2005, 20:11   #17
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What I meant Jack, is that if you are looking, and Sean is looking, other people are looking. Supply and demand. If people are looking for a service, someone will provide it. In the name of profit of course, but that is how services become wide spread. That is what I am counting on.
If I were a local somewhere in the BVI's, and 10 cruisers approached me or people I knew asking for WiFi access in a year, I would set it up, and charge, whatever. If my neighbor down the road heard about it, and started his own service, I would cut my price, or improve my service.
It's the Chicken Little syndrom. Ain't capitalism grande
I do not intend to change my cruising plans to have easy access, but it might be nice to know where it is.
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Old 01-10-2005, 04:55   #18
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KN, you certainly should not change ANY cruising plans on the basis of wifi availability, nor for any other trivial reason.

OTOH I think you are in for a bit of education about how the Grand Design of Capitalism actually works in the Caribbean once you arrive. It makes for a good soap opera but not the competitive environment you might hope for. With a warning of major thread drift, allow me to offer a glimpse forward in time.

For starters, in most of the Caribbean the commercial 'mix' has for decades been polluted by dysfunctional govt. oversight or outright sole ownership e.g. of utility functions. This alone has led to a citizenry that does not always seek entrepreneurship opportunity in the same way we do in N America...tho' it may make them yearn for a govt. job. Now add the limited education most citizens of island nations have, coupled with laws that make business ownership and working visas for non-citizens more difficult. Fold in the fact that most off-island education, enjoyed almost exclusively by the well-off, prepares people for govt service and political roles but not for technical roles, the latter not being what the well-off are looking for. And as the island nations' utility services fall so far behind and become increasingly expensive to fund from limited tax revenues, who do they award non-compete contracts to but the newest Pirates of the Caribbean: Cable & Wireless.

You'll note none of this includes the compounding effect of corruption, which is no less well known down there than up in our neighborhood. It also does not include what Hardin coined the Tragedy of the Commons, which refers to each individual (island nation) tending to act for their own exclusive benefit, but with these multiple, independent acts being collectively, mutually counterproductive. A good example is cell phone service. Most island groups operate their own proprietary service (also often via C&W), and so you may sail 50 NM and find you will need to reregister your cell, pay initiation/activation fees, and buy a new set of minutes. It doesn't take long for most cruisers to forgo this expensive & tiring silliness, and so these island groups collectively lose cell phone business for their fancy new systems to the tune of many hundreds of full-time cruising sailors, plus whatever revenue it could generate by other tourists traveling about.

In short, it's a somewhat unique & dysfunctonal economic model down there...but that doesn't mean anyone should choose not to go.

Jack
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:38   #19
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Did you have a powerful enough setup? That's the answer.



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Euro Cruiser once whispered in the wind:
Within the USA we can purchase PCMCIA wifi cards that are rated up to 200mW - a 100% improvement over what is legal in Europe. From what I have seen, a 200mW card is one of the critical pieces in a sensitive, long-range detection wifi system. The card we will purchase is only $60 USD or so.

Sean, the Caribbean IME is far less suitable for wifi coverage aboard boats than you stated. The tourist centers may offer wifi - there always seems to be a Starbucks where the cruise ship lands<g> - but anchorages and marinas, where boats gather, are rarely immediately adjacent to wifi-equpped tourist plazas & venues. And places like Charlotte Amalie aside, most of the Caribbean (to include the entire S rim, the entire central span, and almost all of the W rim) offer very little infrastructure that includes wifi. Or at least, that was true in 2000-2002 insofar as I could tell.

My hunch is that wifi hardware meets a need re: cruising in two generic venues: well-developed areas in First World countries & island nations, and otherwise in small tourist areas not representative of the remaining geographic area. Wish it weren't so...

Jack
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Old 01-10-2005, 08:30   #20
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external vs internal

For those looking for wifi in the caribe I would recommend the external antenna over the notebook card. We are currently in Bonaire and this was true for PLC, Venezuela.

Our note book cards were not able to get signals due to the distancees on the moorings in Bonaire or in the marina. The cards just do not have the ability to trans and receive across the distances. (I have 2 Microsoft cards hardly used for sale).

We have been using the linksys B external. With it up on top of the salon we get good to excellent signal strength and quality. We are about 3/4 of a mile from the antenna.

Some have added a permanent exteranl fiberglass antenna and have reported superior results.

One other recommendation. Buy in North America not down here. it was 3 times the cost if you could get one.

This is being brought to you by the wifi bonaire from mooring 16.
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Old 01-10-2005, 10:49   #21
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Jack, I live in Ca, where political corruption is the staus quo. My optomistic statements are just that. I have experienced the corruption of Mexico, and the informational manipulations of Canada, as well as the daily propaganda in the US. That said, even corruption can support capitalism. Overall, my idea is to look at the practicality of using WiFi as my primary means of communication with friends while cruising. If I can reliably find a hot spot once every couple of weeks or so, I will be happy.
Capt. Bil THe card I have uses an external fiberglass antenna. As you will see from my earlier posts, I have great reception. I purchased a Linksys some time back, but it seemed to be a redundant piece of equipment, so I returned it.
To all, I appreciate the information. This is all good stuff.
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:38   #22
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For thread followers, I'd like to clarify one of Bil's comments, if I may. Card choice and external antenna choice are not mutually exclusive; in fact, a 200mW card with an external coax jack that accepts low-loss 400 or 600 coax extension to an omni-directional antenna is perhaps the optimum option, and the distances Bil is referencing can be substantially farther with this kit.

I also note Bil's location (Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles), a place that fits one of my two generic categories.

Bil, I haven't been in water above 52F for almost 3 years now; a little sympathy, if you please... <g>

Jack
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:45   #23
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52! Man that's tropical 49f is about the average here. For those of us who dive, drysuit is almost mandatory.
Your point is well made. That is the setup I have.
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:24   #24
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Smart Wi-Fi ~ By Alex Hills
Scientific American, October 2005
Wireless access to the Internet via Wi-Fi is increasingly popular, so the technology is being upgraded to ensure that users get prompt, reliable service ...
Goto Article:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?cha...2483414B7F0000
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Old 21-01-2006, 17:19   #25
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Well... After the less than glowing posts on this thread, I have done away with my WiFi. I have switched to a PCS wireless card. It costs a bit more, but seems to have fewer limitations than the WiFi service. It works everywhere the cell phone does, and the speed is satisfactory. I have only had it up and running now for a couple of hours, but so far I am pleased. I have used this service in my business, and seen the coverage, but could not really evaluate the speed sue to security measures on the company computer. I was pleasantly surprised. FWIW, I am using the small antenna built into the card right now, in a fairly remote area. Even with a weak signal, it is about 5 times faster than dial up.
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Old 21-01-2006, 17:26   #26
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Cool.

Now, the forum viewers can see that you're not double posting the same posted topic?

I'm sure you'll do fine with that device?
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Old 21-01-2006, 17:46   #27
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Just more of me to love
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Old 28-03-2006, 20:59   #28
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Well... It's been a couple of months, and I thought I would put this out there. I have been using the PCS wireless card from Sprint for the past 2 months. My connection is not nearly as consistant as my WiFi was. It appears that I am in a bad coverage zone. I am going back to WiFi.
Now for the important part. I have had several calls to Sprint over this. Their customer service was great. I admit the hold time was a bit long. (average 30 minutes), but when I got someone, they were knowlegable about their product, and we have had an amicable parting of the ways. THey have acknowleged that their service can not live up to my expectations and released me from my contract with them. For cell phone company, this is unheard of. I think in an area with good coverage, this would be a great option, but unfortunately this is not that area. It is sure nice to know that customer service is not a thing of the past, at least in some large corporations. Kudos to Sprint.
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Old 28-03-2006, 21:15   #29
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Well Kai.

I'm happy that you got off of that contract.

Like you said.

Quote:
For cell phone company, this is unheard of.
That is unheard of?

But, I'm glad that you managed to get off of that contract!!
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