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Old 16-09-2018, 11:43   #1
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WiFi extender in the PNW.

We sail year round in the San Juans, Puget Sound, and the Canadian Gulf islands and are looking to do more of it but my wife's work obligations limit us. She works online and needs a moderately good Wi-Fi connection for her v p n.

My question: do you have any experience in the Pacific Northwest with a Wi-Fi extender system such as:
Halo Long Range WiFi Extender System | Global Marine Networks

Is a system such as this likely to work for us as we go from Harbor to Harbor or Island to Island Anchorage?

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Old 16-09-2018, 11:52   #2
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

Lots of cell LTE connections available in the islands. Why not get an unlimited plan and not even try to deal with spotty WiFi.
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Old 16-09-2018, 12:09   #3
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

I agree with Paul WiFi is not reliable enough cell service is almost everywhere.
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Old 16-09-2018, 13:01   #4
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

I have LTE, with unlimited text and data but I find that in so many Harbors, for example Echo Bay and shallow bay on sucia Island have no cell coverage. Fossil Bay is pretty good, but not always the best place to Anchor. Montagu Bay off of Pender Island almost no cell reception. Stewart Island, almost no cell reception. It seems once I get into a Anchorage on the majority of islands North of orcas I have little or no cell coverage, which is why I was looking at the possibility of an extender. I'm looking for something that would increase the likelihood of my wife being able to work in some of these places. I don't want to spend money on a system that doesn't work which is why I am looking for some local knowledge.
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Old 16-09-2018, 13:06   #5
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ-Oldguy View Post
I have LTE, with unlimited text and data but I find that in so many Harbors, for example Echo Bay and shallow bay on sucia Island have no cell coverage. Fossil Bay is pretty good, but not always the best place to Anchor. Montagu Bay off of Pender Island almost no cell reception. Stewart Island, almost no cell reception. It seems once I get into a Anchorage on the majority of islands North of orcas I have little or no cell coverage, which is why I was looking at the possibility of an extender. I'm looking for something that would increase the likelihood of my wife being able to work in some of these places. I don't want to spend money on a system that doesn't work which is why I am looking for some local knowledge.
no cell service almost guarantees no Wi-Fi available . Unless actually tied to a marina dock.
Doubt you would find any now days that are open ( not needing a security password)
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Old 16-09-2018, 13:52   #6
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Lots of cell LTE connections available in the islands. Why not get an unlimited plan and not even try to deal with spotty WiFi.
Cell coverage might help if its just a occasional email but a full bore "connect to the office" cellular is pretty crappy. It can be done and depending on needs it might work in a pinch but without knowing what level of connectivity is needed its hard to say it cell will work. I know I can bring a up my companys vpn and VDI session on cell but its a bit slow and not somthing I would want to use every day for 8 hours.
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:39   #7
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

who's wifi are you planning to use?...
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:49   #8
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

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Cell coverage might help if its just a occasional email but a full bore "connect to the office" cellular is pretty crappy. It can be done and depending on needs it might work in a pinch but without knowing what level of connectivity is needed its hard to say it cell will work. I know I can bring a up my companys vpn and VDI session on cell but its a bit slow and not somthing I would want to use every day for 8 hours.
LTE throughput are pretty decent. No they are not office wire connect speeds, but they are often far superior to outside, marina style WiFi. Especially anything you'll find while cruising around the PNW.
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:51   #9
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

LTE has goten crazy. I downloaded a 2gb file in a few mins the other day tethered to my phone. I remember when that took a week from a house computer. even a year ago would take an hour on my phone.

thanks to the stupid marine companys that require you to download a single huge file for every single model in order to update one thing...
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:57   #10
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ-Oldguy View Post
I have LTE, with unlimited text and data but I find that in so many Harbors, for example Echo Bay and shallow bay on sucia Island have no cell coverage. Fossil Bay is pretty good, but not always the best place to Anchor. Montagu Bay off of Pender Island almost no cell reception. Stewart Island, almost no cell reception. It seems once I get into a Anchorage on the majority of islands North of orcas I have little or no cell coverage, which is why I was looking at the possibility of an extender. I'm looking for something that would increase the likelihood of my wife being able to work in some of these places. I don't want to spend money on a system that doesn't work which is why I am looking for some local knowledge.
Your point about not getting cell service in some bay such as in Sucia is not relevant as there is zero WiFi available there, even with an extender, as Newhaul mentioned.
You might need to get multiple SIM cards so you can pick the best or only provider based on where you are, ATT, Verizon, Rogers.
Either way a WiFi extender will not get used much unless you are staying in a slip. Then A cheap one like an Alpha can get you some advantage.

In some of the bays with no connectivity I have sometimes had luck by putting my cellphone in a waterproof bag with the hotspot enabled. Run it half way up the mast with a halyard. Not gonna get great throughput but you can sometimes get good email level connections.
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Old 17-09-2018, 08:33   #11
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

Not the answers I hoped for, but lots of good info. FYI, cellular does work for my wife's job, I probably need to keep a log of harbors with good cell exception, and accept that is the best I can get.
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Old 17-09-2018, 08:38   #12
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

What Paul L said.

I have a Wilson cell-signal booster--the relatively inexpensive kind that looks like a cradle that you put your phone in--that works pretty well if there's any signal to start with. In Rosario, for example, it doubled our signal strength.

Still, I wouldn't rely on that connection for work. Cell signals are weird. My boat is at Elliott Bay Marina. Being right smack in downtown Seattle you'd think cell signals would be great, but our Verizon signal is sketchy, ranging from no service, to 3G only, to 1 bar of LTE, to (very rarely) two bars of LTE. The cell booster improves things, but not enough to rely on for work, IMHO.
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Old 17-09-2018, 08:52   #13
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Halien View Post
What Paul L said.

I have a Wilson cell-signal booster--the relatively inexpensive kind that looks like a cradle that you put your phone in--that works pretty well if there's any signal to start with. In Rosario, for example, it doubled our signal strength.

Still, I wouldn't rely on that connection for work. Cell signals are weird. My boat is at Elliott Bay Marina. Being right smack in downtown Seattle you'd think cell signals would be great, but our Verizon signal is sketchy, ranging from no service, to 3G only, to 1 bar of LTE, to (very rarely) two bars of LTE. The cell booster improves things, but not enough to rely on for work, IMHO.
this may sound weird but I bet you are to close to the closest cell tower.
Have the same issue at dock street marina by the UW med center.
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Old 17-09-2018, 08:56   #14
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

We have an Island Time wifi antenna and had excellent wifi in Montague. But we were paying $5 a day for access from the marina there. There was also wifi from Orca Wifi but it was more expensive and a really erratic signal.
Island Time also works well in marinas with few antennas.
Still lots of places in the Gulf Islands with no wifi and no cell service but we could often get cellular simply by sailing a little ways out of a harbour or bay.
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Old 17-09-2018, 08:57   #15
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Re: WiFi extender in the PNW.

I have a WiFi extender (the Wirie) mounted on my radar mast. My experience with it in the Puget Sound and San Juans has been generally very poor. The only place where it made a difference was at a marina down in Tacoma... otherwise, the bandwidth is rather poor.

I now use the WiFi extender very rarely. Instead, I use the LTE WiFi hot spot on my phone, which generally provides very good connectivity. My Wirie is a LTE small cell as well, but it is not needed, just putting the phone on top of the companionway (but sometimes even downstairs works ok) provides plenty of connectivity for the hot spot, most of the time even supporting streaming.
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