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Old 22-06-2017, 09:55   #1
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Wifi Range Extenders 2017

I have read all the threads that I can find regarding improving reception for Internet access so please don't tell me to use the search function. BTDT.

All the threads that I found were several years old, I have to believe that the technology changes have been significant so here's a few questions .

Is a device such as this capable of meeting the needs of a cruiser wanting to utilize open networks while cruising up the ICW? Use is not for business, just checking out the next Marina, email access, etc.

https://www.data-alliance.net/alfa-5...na-2-4-5-8ghz/

What are the most economical components to purchase if I want to assemble my own antenna/bridge/access point/ similar to the hardware used by the companies that sell kits that are already configured.

Is 2.4 MHz still the way to go or are 5.8 MHz hotspots the norm now? I know that 5.8 is superior, but have the networks commonly available upgraded?

Can anyone suggest current equipment that is inexpensive rather than the Ubuiquity bullet , antenna, and A/P that will cost me $250 - $300

Thanks for the help, I'm reading books on networks and trying to educate myself, but your experience would be appreciated.
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Old 22-06-2017, 10:36   #2
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

You'll find that most places secure their wi-fi anymore.

From what your usage would be and the fact that you're going up the ICW, why not just use a cell phone with a data plan?
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Old 22-06-2017, 10:37   #3
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Quite honestly I think today's best bet is to get a 3g/4g/LTE router. Wifi generally sucks in terms of speed in most places. On top of that many Wifi hotspots don't allow for routing of the signal. So you have your extender, but can't really use it (all those wifis which require web form login for example).

A 3g/4g router will give you more freedom by purchasing a pay per go or similar data SIM. Methinks is a better option.
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Old 22-06-2017, 10:53   #4
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

I give up on the stupid things. I"ve had 2 of the pico, nano things and 4G is so much better. The 4G is really good in central america for example, better than here in small city,Oregon USA.
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Old 22-06-2017, 11:19   #5
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReMetau View Post
You'll find that most places secure their wi-fi anymore.

From what your usage would be and the fact that you're going up the ICW, why not just use a cell phone with a data plan?
Exactly! We have a Sprint plan with data in the US. Used it from Texas to Florida, and then added global roaming when in Bahamas. GR was $0.20 per minute voice, free texts, and unlimited 3G data thru Bahamas, with reception anywhere there was a btc tower.
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Old 22-06-2017, 13:08   #6
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
I give up on the stupid things. I"ve had 2 of the pico, nano things and 4G is so much better. The 4G is really good in central america for example, better than here in small city,Oregon USA.
Agreed - most developing nations don't suffer from old large legacy telecom systems, so all their equipment is relatively new and efficient.

Agree on the wifi - when it is available it is slow. I have not turned on my wifi router in almost a year.
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Old 22-06-2017, 13:12   #7
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

OP,

We use a T-Mobile unlimited data plan wich will end up costing you much less than what you have in mind.
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Old 22-06-2017, 14:26   #8
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

If you want a good inexpensive wifi antenna, it is hard to beat the offerings from Alfa networks. They have antennas putting out 1 watt (most are 500 mW) and can be had from ebay or amazon for under 50 USD, including an antenna. They are not waterproof, so don't permanently mount them outside. A longer, higher gain omnidirectional antenna is also easily found on ebay or amazon. You don't need anything else besides a USB cable, they are recognized by Windows 7, 8 and 10. I use mine inside the boat when in a marina, outside up a halyard at anchor (in nice weather). Seldom have an issue and have connected even when over 2 miles from the wifi site. Speed depends on lots of factors, but I have seen speeds in excess of 1 MB/sec (not often though)
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Old 22-06-2017, 14:53   #9
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

OP
The Alpha wifi that you referenced works well and is dirt cheap. In the past it was what we used all the time. Mine has not been plugged in for awhile, as cellphone data has become easier, cheaper and ubiquitous.
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Old 22-06-2017, 17:27   #10
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by pesarsten View Post
Is a device such as this capable of meeting the needs of a cruiser wanting to utilize open networks while cruising up the ICW? Use is not for business, just checking out the next Marina, email access, etc.
The Alfa will perform better than the WiFi built into your laptop. It won't come close to the performance of a Bullet, Halo, or Groove.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pesarsten View Post
What are the most economical components to purchase if I want to assemble my own antenna/bridge/access point/ similar to the hardware used by the companies that sell kits that are already configured.
The kits are a pretty good value. When you factor in mounting hardware it's hard to beat their price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pesarsten View Post
Is 2.4 MHz still the way to go or are 5.8 MHz hotspots the norm now? I know that 5.8 is superior, but have the networks commonly available upgraded?
5 GHz is not superior for large outdoor venues like marinas. Signal penetration is the biggest factor. 2.4 GHz 802.11 a/b/g is the way to go for marinas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReMetau View Post
From what your usage would be and the fact that you're going up the ICW, why not just use a cell phone with a data plan?
I think cellular is the overall future for data connectivity. That doesn't mean it will completely replace WiFi. For starters US service providers are being more and more careful to tweak their antenna patterns for best coverage where their customers are. You can see this along the ICW in the Carolinas and Georgia where there are pretty decent signals 20' above the water but little to nothing on the water. I've seen signal levels drop down the middle of the Chesapeake over the last few years.

Service providers are also struggling to keep up with backhaul requirements as the network load continues to grow.

I use a lot of cellular data but I'm not taking out my WiFi range extender. It's just to useful.
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Old 23-06-2017, 09:26   #11
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
OP,

We use a T-Mobile unlimited data plan wich will end up costing you much less than what you have in mind.
What Dave/Auspicious said, too - we still use our Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC wherever we can see an Xfinity signal that beats our (usual) horrible signal for T-M.

That said, we're on their unlimited plan, which ostensibly gives you international roaming.

What isn't so prominent in their promotion of that feature is that such roaming is at 2G - tops 128k - speeds.

I'm in the Bahamas right now, and put my T-M on suspense until I return to the states, because you could grow moss waiting for anything other than text over a mail client; web interface times are excruciating, and not even enough bandwidth to check via speedtest.

However, my BTC data-only plan commonly is 20-30/12-20 GB down/up in populated areas, and 3G or so in the out-island areas like where I am now, in Wells Bay off Grand Cay.

Back to my WiFi distribution: We spend most of our US time on a ball in Vero Beach City Marina. While the marina signal on our Bullet/8dbi antenna system is huge - like, -50 or so - the throughput is from hunger as all the other cruisers use it as well. I rarely see anything much higher than ~500k down.

OTOH, my Xfinity connection (presumed to one of the area's condos - there are many available Xfinity connections in that area) regularly gives me 3-8/2-4 down/up, and that's sufficient for what we do with it. My T-M, having at most 1 bar there, is useless for that purpose. In a major population area, like, say, downtown Vero, it's great - but the boat can't go there

Bob Stewart (ex cruiser, so he knows our needs) at island time, puts together a kit which is plug and play. I have both the groove and bullet but prefer the bullet for informational purposes. If you are network savvy, MAYBE you can do the configuration yourself - but if you're not, you'll want to shoot yourself before it's over. KISS makes it so that, even though I know how to do it, I pay Bob for my computer stuff (I have a mini-itx that he built, and I've eventually replaced entirely, over 8 or so years, the latest being a full MOBO/PS and OS replacement on my - supplied - 1T internal drive). Thus I readily pay his price for stuff he sells. Better is that you get a full warranty for whatever period it is, but after that it's parts only - he doesn't charge for labor, so my upgrade with new OS and the stuff I wanted installed, while I had to pay for the hardware (long out of warranty), there was no labor charge.

Alfa and the like are problematic in that you have to keep them in the boat, and are USB. Bullet and the like are exterior and use ethernet for both power and data, which you can run direct to a computer or to any router.

We would not be without it, even though, as has been noted, direct applications are becoming more rare.

HTH....
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Old 23-06-2017, 17:33   #12
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Have you got contact details for Bob Stewart please?
Website or ??? PM if you need to.
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Old 23-06-2017, 17:50   #13
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Bob Stewart: Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC
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Old 23-06-2017, 18:11   #14
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

Agreeing with most of what's already been said.
  • I have an alfa around somewhere. They usually do better than the laptop's onboard wifi, but can sometimes have driver problems.
  • better are the more expensive Ubiquiti units (that the OP doesn't want to buy), especially when teamed with a superior antenna, and mounted on a spreader. Then you connect that to a wifi access point in your cabin that any of your devices can access.
  • I've set up Ubiquiti-based systems from scratch, but if you're not experienced at this, and your time is worth more than $20 an hour, it is much better to buy something like the Island Time system. Another system, that I have installed on boats, is the Bad Boy Xtreme from Bitstorm.
  • Most consumer wifi access points now come locked by default, so it's much harder to find open wifi these days. Also, as reported, marina wifi is often overloaded, as you try to send an email while 40 other boats are trying to watch Netflix. And 20 laptops running Windows 10 are trying to download upgrades.
  • If you're going to rely on internet connectivity to stay in touch with work and family... get a data plan for your phone or tablet.
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Old 23-06-2017, 18:13   #15
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Re: Wifi Range Extenders 2017

rstewart@islandtimepc.com

You can see our rig, and a couple of others, on his website here (click any of the hyperlinks in color):

Flying Pig WiFi
general info: Marine WiFi Systems

He's the king of customer service. I couldn't recommend him more highly.

There's a more generic address: marinewifi@islandtimepc.com

Or, from his website:
Or call Bob at:
850-890-2815
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