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Old 09-01-2015, 05:23   #1
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Sat Wifi

Hi all!

We're planning to move aboard a boat and telecommute. We want to begin cruising in the Caribbean for a few months, cross the Atlantic in May, and then cruise the Med for a while.

Can anyone recommend options for effective telecommuting? I will need about 5 hours of internet access per week (that's just for checking in, downloading emails, and sending emails).

When we're near land, obviously we'll head to shore and check in there. So, we're looking for an option that we can pay per use, but one that is not prohibitively expensive.

No idea where to start. We're new to this lifestyle so we value any advice you might have!

Thanks
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:53   #2
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Re: Sat Wifi

Take a look at the new Iridium Go. It's a portable satellite-connected wifi hotspot that allows up to 5 tablets/smartphones/PCs to connect.

Like all satellite systems, bandwidth is painfully slow!!! Web access is limited to text-only sites. Mail is text and low res images.

The box is around $900 to buy in the US; add a couple hundred more if you want a more permanent installation with an external connection. Service plans are around $150/month for unlimited data.



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Old 09-01-2015, 12:43   #3
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Re: Sat Wifi

You should check that your service provider will be able to link with euro satellites. Mobile phone data cards prepaid are OK and work close to land. You need to get a card for each country you visit Roaming fees can be very high if you use a US provider during your Euro stay. Have you read up about Shengen visas? Not much point getting a phone/data contract if you only stay in the EU for 3 out of 6 months.
Many cafes have WiFi and that's OK for occasional use. One hassle is that the obligatory cup of coffee costs more than if you had used a Sim card in your phone. That's not a problem in Italy because the coffee in heavenly. In France ask for weefee. Many ports have WiFi but not often free. Signal strength on the boat is rarely good. Too far from antenna, too many people online or just a crap service. Buy a good WiFiantenna for use in port. Either use your phone as a hot spot or better still get a data sim and a WiFi router (Mifi). Data Sims cost about the same or more but 4gig goes a very long way if you're just emailing.
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Old 20-01-2015, 02:41   #4
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Re: Sat Wifi

Thanks all for your help!
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Old 23-01-2015, 10:49   #5
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Re: Sat Wifi

I use a Ubiquiti Bullet and in most anchorages in the Caribbean I can find a free signal to use or a local provider with adequate speed and daily/weekly/monthly rates that won't break the bank. When staying in one location or island one can find better solutions as well (MiFi in the BVI and USVI or a similar system in St. Martin and the French islands going south).


A Broadband satellite connection with really high-speed connectivity from KVH is about $15K installation and then about $1/Mb but will give you broadband speeds in all regions of the world that one is likely to travel. The antenna dome is pretty ugly, though.


I only get around 2400 Baud on my Iridium and that costs $1 per minute - not a good solution for anything but emergency weather gribs or 100% compressible text files.
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Old 28-01-2015, 18:09   #6
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Re: Sat Wifi

I use Verizon 4g modem when traveling between Washington and Alaska. It works fine in Canada, but I have no idea about the Caribbean. I only saw 4g once, usually 3g, but could use it up to 25 miles offshore or within the inland passage. Most marinas have wifi, often free. Last bill was about $60/month for 6gb.
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Old 15-02-2015, 18:21   #7
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Re: Sat Wifi

I run a computer business from home - and the boat during the season. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of a telecommute job takes only five hours a week?



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Old 15-02-2015, 20:11   #8
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Re: Sat Wifi

Let me hijack this thread and ask if anyone knows if using Satfi or Iridium Go do you need a separate number or does your cell phone ring with same number? I know for email you gotta use their email which is not ideal when replying back to clients. Thanks in advance.
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Old 15-02-2015, 20:36   #9
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Re: Sat Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robertkwfl View Post
Take a look at the new Iridium Go. It's a portable satellite-connected wifi hotspot that allows up to 5 tablets/smartphones/PCs to connect.

Like all satellite systems, bandwidth is painfully slow!!! Web access is limited to text-only sites. Mail is text and low res images.

The box is around $900 to buy in the US; add a couple hundred more if you want a more permanent installation with an external connection. Service plans are around $150/month for unlimited data.



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Lets be very clear about this.. When they say painfully slow, they really mean painfully slow.. 2.4Kbps, yup 20 TIMES SLOWER than a dial-up modem.

Althought they say "Unlimited Data", thats not really true. Its a proprietary system and you can't really "surf" the Internet with it. E-mails must be keep very small as well (absolutely no pictures) if you want the sysytem to function well. A good metric for a system like this is about 15-25 TEXT based e-mails per day.

Another option when you are close to land, is 3G. Its still fairly limited at about $10/GB but its 1000s of times faster than any affordable satelite system (no not an exageration).
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:23   #10
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Re: Sat Wifi

Wow is the Iridium Go really that slow??


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Old 09-07-2015, 09:40   #11
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Re: Sat Wifi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pashenkova View Post
Hi all!

We're planning to move aboard a boat and telecommute. We want to begin cruising in the Caribbean for a few months, cross the Atlantic in May, and then cruise the Med for a while.

Can anyone recommend options for effective telecommuting? I will need about 5 hours of internet access per week (that's just for checking in, downloading emails, and sending emails).

When we're near land, obviously we'll head to shore and check in there. So, we're looking for an option that we can pay per use, but one that is not prohibitively expensive.

No idea where to start. We're new to this lifestyle so we value any advice you might have!

Thanks
For remote areas where only the sat phone gets a signal, we use UUplus email service with our Iridium Extreme (9575) phone. Stellar performance and great support and service (which you won't need...) They intelligently engineered the software and service to your advantage. For instance, we have it fetch grib and wx reports twice daily using either sat phone or internet via cell data or WiFi. If we skip a few days fetching, the next time we log-in it only fetches the most recent report(s) instead of downloading all the old [out-of-date] reports we didn't fetch prior- saving precious data minutes...

We also have UUplus send a [free incoming] text message to our sat phone so we are notified whenever a new email arrives [we don't waste time and $ checking an empty mailbox...]

To make a fully informed decision, one must read in depth and understand all the UUplus features... there are many. The service more than pays for itself with the sat phone minutes/cell data it saves [everything is compressed...]

For areas where we might get an open WiFi signal or need a local cell data SIM card, we installed a WiriePro combination Wifi and cell data 'booster' when in areas where either is available. Works great, and rounds out our communications capabilities.

We also carry cell phones and use them as mobile hot spots. To augment the reception of our cell phones for calls and hot-spot use, we use a Wilson Sleek 4G booster with a marine external antenna. [Read this article on Panbo for details...]

I'm ignoring HF radio and packet modem options [Choosing SailMail over WinLink since you are conducting business...] because I sounds like they would not suit your stated use case.

Of our choices, only our cell phones and the WiriePro provide web browsing capability [unless you consider the built-in UUplus web fetching capability using SailDocs as a static variation of web browsing- like someone giving you print-outs of web pages...]

The bottom line is there are many viable options available depending upon your needs, but staying in touch has an ongoing cost...

These are simply the choices we have made that suit our present needs based upon current service offerings... If we could afford [and justify] higher bandwidth satellite services then we would need to do much more research... Hopefully the new Iridium satellite constellation [which is supposed to start launching later this year and be operation by the end of 2016- last I read...] will improve the bandwidth and costs.

I should also mention that, as of this moment, the costs for our sat phone and plan [Limited to Canada and Alaska only for now] and UUplus are still are far less than an unlimited data plan [US$125/month] on an IridiumGo, and offer far more flexibility... for now...

Cheers!
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:14   #12
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Re: Sat Wifi

I think sat wifi is expensive enough to justify skipping over the price question and concentrating on the quality question.

I used Inmarsat Fleet broadband some time ago and it was good.

See if the service is still around.

If your work is be done with on/off e-commuting that can be served in batches, satphone based solutions (backed by proper hardware) will do the job for you. Look towards Iridium Open Port and the likes.

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