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Old 14-11-2012, 18:34   #1
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Need Internet on Board!

Does anyone have any suggestions on good ways to get internet on board? I have been looking but all the systems seem to be geared mainly for big boats that are always way offshore. Such systems are incredibly cost prohibitive.

Any thoughts would help - many thanks!

Matt
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Old 14-11-2012, 18:40   #2
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Re: Need internet on board!

Are you talking about regular internet to browse etc. or do you have a specific communications goal in mind?
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Old 14-11-2012, 18:41   #3
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Re: Need internet on board!

If at a marina slip and they have cable or DSL.. that is the best.
If wifi then (usually system is oversaturated) a wifi.

If close to shore and no wi fi then a wireless data access (via smart phone, dongle, or mifi like device).

If offshore... one must pay the piper... and it is expensive. Worse, a modern computer or smartphone will be pinging the 'cloud' to check for updates, messages, ... and even without thinking one is generating traffic a lot of traffic can happen.

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Old 14-11-2012, 19:36   #4
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

Go to Verizon and buy a MiFi. It works on 4g LTE and you can have wifi wherever you go.

Typical device is about $49
Set Your Location

Then you just pay a monthly service for the amount of data you want.

I sail from Key Biscayne to the Key West and I never have to worry about not having wifi.
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Old 14-11-2012, 20:41   #5
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Re: Need internet on board!

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Originally Posted by avb3 View Post
Are you talking about regular internet to browse etc. or do you have a specific communications goal in mind?
Its just for internet and checking email whilst offshore. I am not sure how close to shore you need to be for mifi/dongle/phone to work onboard.
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Old 14-11-2012, 20:42   #6
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

A little more detail would help.

In the USA, Caribbean, Med, elsewhere?

In the harbor, at the dock, cruising, offshore?

If offshore, coastal, ocean crossing?
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Old 14-11-2012, 20:50   #7
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Re: Need internet on board!

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Originally Posted by SD Sailing View Post
Its just for internet and checking email whilst offshore. I am not sure how close to shore you need to be for mifi/dongle/phone to work onboard.
Guess your post came about the same time as my questions.

Cell phone connections are good for a few miles, maybe 4-5 off shore.

With a wifi booster you might get about the same with wifi.

Beyond that you are limited to satellite or shortwave. Both require a pretty hefty up front investment. Shortwave (Ham) cheap to use but non commercial only and pretty slow. Satellite big bucks and bandwidth costs more big bucks.
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Old 14-11-2012, 21:01   #8
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

For coastal cruisers in the US, a good choice could be a no-contract smart phone set up to act as a wi-fi hot spot.

For example. Fifty bucks per month gets a Straight Talk smart phone from WalMart online with unlimited data.

Straight Talk has a SIM card, too. For use in your own GSM phone for the same monthly charge. About fifteen bucks for the SIM, I think.
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Old 14-11-2012, 22:54   #9
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Re: Need internet on board!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD Sailing View Post
Its just for internet and checking email whilst offshore. I am not sure how close to shore you need to be for mifi/dongle/phone to work onboard.
Cell phone signals carry a long way over water - I've had voice over 10 miles over water. If you use a MiFi or dongle on a long extension cable, you can get more range by placing your wifi device in a better signal location (up higher, outside) while using your computer/tablet inside the boat.

Most androids and iphones can be set up to act as a wireless wifi router. Your company might charge an extra fee for this service, or you can use a "rooting" (android) or "jailbreak" (iphone) method to get that extra service free - and hope you don't get caught at it.

These devices are power-hungry, so you will need a power source for extended usage.

Finally, you can do a lot on a smart phone with a large, easy to use screen, or on a tablet that has it's own cellular data service installed - and skip the laptop completely. These are by far the simplest options, and likely will be the cheapest for you if you don't have any "special" apps you're trying to use over the internet.
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Old 14-11-2012, 22:57   #10
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

Thanks to everyone for the help - some good info here. I really appreciate it!
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Old 15-11-2012, 05:22   #11
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Be aware that straight talk uses verizon, att & t mobile. Most of their smart phones end up being t mobile. And t mobile sucks for coastal cruising except in Fl, we know firsthand.

I've heard there is a way to use a specific zip code when ordering a smartphone from straighttalk, and with that zipcode you will get a verizon smartphone...anyone have details on that?
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Old 15-11-2012, 06:02   #12
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

My experience with cell phones on the east coast we never saw more that 4-5 miles. We had three different phones each on a different service, Verizon, ATT and T-mobile as I recall.

From RI to FL we made several off shore legs; NJ shore, Maryland, SC/GA and GA/FL and all three of us would start losing connection at about 3 miles and by 4-5 miles could no longer connect. I could see 5 bars signal strength on my phone but could not connect at all.

I have read about cell phone boosters that will increase your range but I think 10-20 miles was the max they advertised.
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Old 15-11-2012, 06:18   #13
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

For internet offshore you might want to look at the Hughes 9202 BGAN Portable Satellite Terminal. It's relatively inexpensive, small and pretty fast. This would be a pretty good solution for occasional use but probably not something for daily use. This model is certainly less expensive than the professional grade sat terminals for large yachts.
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Old 15-11-2012, 11:40   #14
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

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Originally Posted by one life View Post
For internet offshore you might want to look at the Hughes 9202 BGAN Portable Satellite Terminal. It's relatively inexpensive, small and pretty fast. This would be a pretty good solution for occasional use but probably not something for daily use. This model is certainly less expensive than the professional grade sat terminals for large yachts.
BGAN terminals are not suitable for use on board a moving vessel. I also beleive that INMARSAT does not allow BGAN connectivity from deep sea ocean areas, Fleetbroadband is the offered prodict for that application, Currently thats about 4K for the equipment and around 10$ a megabyte for small data volumes.
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Old 07-12-2012, 05:49   #15
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Re: Need Internet on Board!

Greetings

Similar question to the OP: For the Keys, what kind of tablet (droid or iphone) would be best?

I run on 2 car batteries for power and the occasional public facility/pub for an outlet. I am also unfamiliar with internet phones and how they connect, but I've heard that tablets are not able to Skype unless connected to wifi - ie, facetime isn't possible. Are tablets a fool's errand on a rickety sailboat?

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