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Old 15-08-2012, 09:46   #1
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Communication in the Med and Beyond

Hi Every one, My wife and I are leaving our jobs renting the house in the UK next year and heading for warmer climes, I have been wondering what way of communication would be best to use with friends and loved ones, we have an Ipad/ iphones but as we will be on a budget with roaming costs etc we feel this could cost a small fortune as we will be trying to avoid marinas as best we can so the free wi-fi (that is if its still free) will not be of any use, our destination from the UK will be the Med then to the canaries and beyond, any ideas or thoughts, I have been looking a Pay as you go Sat phones and it looks scary!
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Old 23-09-2012, 03:38   #2
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

A lot of bars and restaurants/fast food joints (like McDonald's) have free wifi but not usually of good enough quality to Skype. For that you will need an internet cafe. Have seen a few of those here in Lisbon mostly near train stations and airports. You might consider getting an unlocked phone and buying local sim cards but this can be pricey as well (we tried it in the Caribbean). I have seen advertisements for something called a World Sim card on SkyMall and cosidering getting one of those.
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Old 23-09-2012, 04:42   #3
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

For calling within the EU, a cellphone (Mobile) using a pay-as-you-go local Sim card works best. We tend to only top it up with 20 pounds or 20 euros at a time until we get a feel for the local phone charges, this way there's no surprises. One time, my wife burned through 30 pounds (almost $50) making a 20 minute Sim mobile call... a call which would have been free if she had waited 10 minutes and used our internet Magicjack. On the boat, you'll need to install an amplifier antenna to strengthen local internet signals. We plan to install the Digital yacht 510, as some of my friends have reported success using the unit. Otherwise, I use internet hot spots as I locate them. For unlimited free calls to the USA, we use a "MagicJack" plugged into our ships computer; however, with the MagicJack you'll need a relatively strong internet signal. Worldwide calling can also be done on the MagicJack for under 20 cents per minute. Skype and Ipad to Ipad communications work well... but not everyone we intend to call has the capability to receive. For crossing oceans, you're better off just renting a SAT phone for the time you'll be needing it.
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Old 23-09-2012, 05:36   #4
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

Skype has a few different options that you could look at. We have a UK based number linked to our Skype Id. It has voice mail for folk to leave messages when we're not online. Free calls to UK land lines, plus using Skype credit we can also call premium numbers if we so wish as well as calls to other countries. It also allows the Parents-In-Law to simply pick up the phone and call whenever they wish.

We simply pick up a 3G Pay As You Go SIM card wherever we're travelling through (Greece, Turkey (it's a bit complicated getting this set up), Fiji, Australia, Saudi, Kuwait and Bahrain so far without problems).

There are similar services available also but Skype has worked well so far (my sister in law even used it to book her A2B pickup via the UK for Gocek to Dalaman as it was cheapier than using Turkcell to make the same call!).

We have another number for NZ as well, and everything is linked to the same account running on my mobile phone, so we can happily make use of free wifi when we find it and make and take calls whilst we are out and about.

Both the mother and father-in-law now have 3G Smartphones so we use WhatsApp for texting and instant pic sharing more than Skype.

Also Facebook is handy for sharing pictures etc.... with the wider family and friends.

We don't blog but have considered setting one up.

If your question was about keeping touch whilst doing the transatlantic etc... we found that the "Yellowbrick" was a great tool for following my brother-in-law as he was doing the WARC and a delivery skipper we used a few years ago had a similar device from "Skymate" that he could send out basic position reports etc... with.

Hope this helps.

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Old 23-09-2012, 07:00   #5
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

I access my internet with a sim card dongle and find that skype is very data hungry. I can burn through my 5gb months allowance in a few days use so ive gone over to google chat and find it uses less data and sound quality is much better
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Old 16-10-2012, 17:06   #6
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

if you are on Facebook there is a very effective solution to keeping friends and family abreast of your whereabouts. That will save you a lot of time and money in communications costs! There are apps (iPhone, iPad, Android) that will send your current coordinates with a brief status update and will post them to Facebook automatically. If you have a sat phone on board (Iridium, Globalstar, Inmarsat) you can send a so-called geo-tagged SMS (an SMS containing your coordinates with the geo: identifier) where you have no cell coverage. I have used Squidd.io and it seems to do the job (and it's free!). You can check in and out of marinas and the system will also show what cruising friends you have at specific marinas.
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Old 16-10-2012, 18:26   #7
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

I'm not on a boat, and did not travel everywhere in the med, but my experience in Barcelona and other towns around that coast is suggesting that wifi services are highly fragmented.

1) There does not seem to be a universal wifi provider like Boingo
2) This means you're constantly registering and giving credit cards to unknown, unbranded wifi services that are only available in that one spot where you are connecting
3) There are RARE open nodes, extremely hard to find and of very limited range due to the medevial stone construction common in the med
4) Most wifi nodes seem to have BAD data rates

My last visit is showing signs of change - McDonald's are offering a service, and Barcelona has some kind of city-wide service. However, I could not connect to the Barcelona city service with my Macbook, no idea why. I encountered a few restaurants that provided free service to patrons, you only have to ask for the password.

I think it will improve, but for now - not good. I did not try using data services. If you will be in a single region for a reasonable period of time, there are cellular data plans offered. I have no idea of their service rates or quality. I'm fairly certain that they will all be limited plans.
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Old 16-10-2012, 20:08   #8
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

Been quite a few years since Connie and I were there, but Im sure that SSB and a fax modem would still give ya communications!! At least my SSB on our new to us boat, still works just like what I had In the med, and we were never out of contact with our family and friends!! I know it's old fashion, but it works most anywhere !! Just our 2 cents
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Old 16-10-2012, 20:38   #9
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

I agree things are getting better, but the only way to dramatically improve wifi service at marinas and other facilities (including getting all marinas to support Boingo or similar) is for users like us to rate the quality of wifi service we receive, and let boaters choose where to go based on these ratings. I think organizations like sQuidd.io, which allows cruisers to vote wifi quality at each marina will go a long way in getting us better service.
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Old 17-10-2012, 02:51   #10
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobconnie View Post
Been quite a few years since Connie and I were there, but Im sure that SSB and a fax modem would still give ya communications!! At least my SSB on our new to us boat, still works just like what I had In the med, and we were never out of contact with our family and friends!! I know it's old fashion, but it works most anywhere !! Just our 2 cents
For those who know how to do that and have the equipment ready this is the cheapest solution.

For the others: There are few really free WiFi signals - if you buy a wifi amplifier with the intention of getting online for free: forget it, this won't pay off! Sometimes you can get free signals, like several miles off of Mustique where they obviously have some excellent equipment. But its really rare.
Often local bars have a free WiFi for their customers. Just drink a beer and use the wifi key on your boat with your amplifier. The amplifier also helps with improving the Marina's wifi connectivity.

For Spain, France, Italy you can just go and buy a local prepaid SIM. We used different ones for our netbook data access and our phone. The phone SIM (Happymovil) allowed calls home for 4ct per minute. The data SIM (Carrefour) had a 1 EUR per day of usage, including 300MB. There are others like Yoigo that offer a prepaid SIM for smartphones, which have reasonable data plans (like 6 EUR / month incl 500MB) and airtime minutes.

As you go to Morocco or Tunisia I bet things will be quite different.
Even an iSatPhone can be a cheaper alternative compared to roaming. It's around 70ct per minute prepaid so not too bad.
For doing just the daily status email without any photos and internet access it's also OK.
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Old 17-10-2012, 03:19   #11
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

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Originally Posted by coupdemistral View Post
I agree things are getting better, but the only way to dramatically improve wifi service at marinas and other facilities (including getting all marinas to support Boingo or similar) is for users like us to rate the quality of wifi service we receive, and let boaters choose where to go based on these ratings. I think organizations like sQuidd.io, which allows cruisers to vote wifi quality at each marina will go a long way in getting us better service.
6 posts so far, and every single one with a link to squiddio.

You must really like it there.......

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Old 17-10-2012, 03:26   #12
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Re: Communication in the Med and Beyond

Hi
I believe that the cheapest way for phone calls is local SIMs but for convenience look at GymSim which gives you reasonably cheap call rates, a UK number and is free to receive calls- worth a look
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