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Old 19-04-2014, 08:22   #1
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Slow Internet in a Marina - Can it be Augmented?

Hi - Second season living aboard, and we're in a marina which has internet available, via a router in their office. Doesn't seem to be the best router, but I'm not in a position to change the equipment they are using. We are living aboard, and running our network marketing business (which we've had for 22 years) from the boat, easily, but the slow internet is driving me crazy. It's not anything crucial - videos load eventually, but with lots of pauses waiting for buffering. I feel like I'm back in the dial up days lol! Has anyone found a way to (safely) boost speed? Since it is primarily for our business, I have no issue with investing in something, but I don't think a repeater is going to be beneficial since it is the marina's router. I am also no opposed to buying a satellite service which we could take anywhere, if such a service exists. I'm not too technical, but wondered if something is out there that might speed things up? Thanks!
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Old 19-04-2014, 08:27   #2
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

You can get an external wifi antenna ($40) and put it higher in the boat, or if that doesn't help you can switch to a 4g cellular data service ($60/month).
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Old 19-04-2014, 08:34   #3
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

4g cellular is made for your application.
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Old 19-04-2014, 08:40   #4
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Ok, so this will reveal my level of technological skills (or lack thereof). I have an iphone 5 and a ipad, but the issue is that my laptop is connecting through the marina's wifi, and that's what is slow. No clue how to get my laptop connected to 4g, since it isn't a smartphone or tablet. I do as much as I can on my other devices, but I prefer working on my laptop for a bunch of things that need to be done. Am I missing something obvious? Thanks for the input!
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Old 19-04-2014, 08:48   #5
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

I don't know the specifics, but would you consider investing in a better access point for the marina? It sounds like they have a simple router. Setting up outdoor higher gain antennas with the coverage of the marina in mind, may improve things more than a repeater or other method on your end. If you're signal isn't a problem, it could just be heavy usage on a slow connection. Maybe you can complain to the marina staff and they might address it. Simple things like antenna orientation, vertical or horizontal, and height are very important.
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Old 19-04-2014, 08:59   #6
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Depending on your service provider, you can get a small device that receives cellular signals, and connect your computer(s) to that.

Less dependent on your marina.

See: mifi.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:07   #7
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Your choice is simple: try to grab more of the limited bandwidth that the marina is serving up through their router or find some alternate access method. The first option may provide some improvement but even if you get 100% of their access you will never do any better than what they are paying for. Only you can judge how much of their bandwidth you are currently accessing. Others have suggested some form of cellular connection - you could use a mifi device or tether a cell phone. Satellite is an option if you can see the sky and you can establish a hard mounting point for the dish. You may also have local wireless options - think of that as a really high end wifi solution provided over longer distances.

In terms of cost, increasing your share of the existing marina wifi is likely the least expensive option. It costs you nothing in ongoing monthly costs and the hardware to get started is relatively trivial - I suppose you could spend $200 if you really tried but under $100 is more likely. Next most expensive is likely the local wireless provider, if one exists and the most expensive will be the satellite service both in terms of initial capital cost and ongoing service fees. The satellite is also the most flexible - in theory it will work anywhere in the world.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:07   #8
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viturina View Post
Ok, so this will reveal my level of technological skills (or lack thereof). I have an iphone 5 and a ipad, but the issue is that my laptop is connecting through the marina's wifi, and that's what is slow. No clue how to get my laptop connected to 4g, since it isn't a smartphone or tablet. I do as much as I can on my other devices, but I prefer working on my laptop for a bunch of things that need to be done. Am I missing something obvious? Thanks for the input!
What you need is what is generally called a "MIFI" router. This is a WIFI access point with a 4g modem built in. You buy this together with a data plan. And then you have your own wifi network that you can connect your laptop, iPad etc.
If you have a data plan for your iPad you can ditch it, or you can maybe use the plan with the MIFI router. Over here that would just involve taking the sim out of the iPad and putting it in the router.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:17   #9
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

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Originally Posted by letsgetsailing3 View Post
Depending on your service provider, you can get a small device that receives cellular signals, and connect your computer(s) to that.

Less dependent on your marina.

See: mifi.
+1, also see: tethering

I was using a mifi device (in the UK) until a few weeks ago. Had it for 2 years, 15GB/month @ less than 20, connect up to 5 computers.

Now I'm tethering to my phone using the same (Three) network's unlimited data plan.

Works just as well as the dedicated mifi but since I bought the plan they tell me they're now limiting tethered data for new customers - can't remember the limit.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:20   #10
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viturina View Post
Ok, so this will reveal my level of technological skills (or lack thereof). I have an iphone 5 and a ipad, but the issue is that my laptop is connecting through the marina's wifi, and that's what is slow. No clue how to get my laptop connected to 4g, since it isn't a smartphone or tablet. I do as much as I can on my other devices, but I prefer working on my laptop for a bunch of things that need to be done. Am I missing something obvious? Thanks for the input!
If you have an iPhone 5, you already have the equivalent of a mifi device. Apple calls it a personal hotspot. Go to settings>general>cellular. You should see the hotspot setup. Once it is set up, you can turn it on at the top settings menu. You can connect the phone either wirelessly or using a USB cable. If you're connecting multiple devices, you'll need to do it wirelessly. You should check with your cell provider to find out what the data plan will cost. If you're moving a lot of photos and video, you'll be using up data allotments quickly. I find that the wifi in our harbor is faster in off hours for obvious reasons. I will sometimes wait to move big files on the wifi, but use the iPhone connection for routine business during the day.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:26   #11
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

This is such a recurring issue/question, that I'm surprised someone has written a "wifi for Dummies" book yet. I guess by the time they'd have it published it would be out of date. There have, however, been tons of discussions about this right here on this forum. Since that's the case, I'm sure the internet has it covered, comin' and goin'.

From everything I've read, mifi is the way to go. When we were on a cruise last year one of our skippers had his along and it was great for us from three slips away. Darned, though, he forgot the charger for it, so we only got to use it for one or two days.

Good luck.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:40   #12
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

If you are in the US, go talk to Verizon and get a MiFi. It acts as a router inside the boat and if you are on 4G LTE, then you have fast speeds and they will connect up to 10 devices - IPhione, IPad, WIndowsPC, wireless printer , etc. If you are in a 3G area, it will only connect 5. I have one with a plug in antenna inside the boat and just got through a 6 month cruise and it was used extensively and worked very well. Your PC must be able to pick up wifi to use the marina system, if not buy a usb wifi receiver for your PC.

I too had some business to take care of and it did the job. I don't know how much good the plug in antenna did as it is just a couple of feet above the waterline and inside the salon. One mounted high in the mast would offer a lot more range. I keep it plugged into power all the time. It is also safer than using a public marina wifi as it is more secure I think, and password protected. You can also run Netflix and other tv apps with it to watch movies too.

We did a blog with lots of photos and used Dropbox to sync all of our photos to all our devices. I ran 2 IPads, 2 IPhones, two Windows based PC's, a Roku TV box and an HP wireless printer while we were onboard. I have a tracking KVH antenna with Dish but we did watch an occasional movie on Netflix through the Roku. We averaged about 1 GB of data a day with our max usage 34 GB one month. My data plan gives me a base of 30 GB per month and it was $16 per GB over that base, so I spent another $60 one month. The other months I was below my base usage.
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Old 19-04-2014, 13:30   #13
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Think of it like a series of hoses:
- The marina has a hose feeding water to it and several taps that boats can hook up to.
- When you connect, it is the equivalent of connecting a hose from the taps to your boat.
- If the marina is being fed with a 1/2" hose, hooking up a fire hose from the marina to your boat will not get you more water.
- If there are a dozen other boats connected, there will be a limited amount reaching each boat.
- If one boat is a few feet from the tap and another is 1000ft away at the end of a dock, the one far away will see much lower water pressure and flow rates.

MiFi, HotSpot or cellular service (basically the same thing) is a separate connection from the cell tower and bypasses the marina system. Of course in urban areas it's not uncommon for the hose feeding a cell tower to be overwhelmed by heavy usage.

Upgrading the marinas service might be an option but has complications and you are unlikely to get dedicated service quality. A cell plan while still variable in quality is less likely to degrade but comes at a significantly higher cost (there are data download limits and since you mention video, this is a significant issue.)
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Old 19-04-2014, 14:01   #14
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Here is my 2 cents

I would make sure your laptop is running smoothly - no male-ware, worm, etc. Check how many processes are running (assuming your on a windows machine) press ctrl+alt+delete, start task manager and look at the bottom corner for processes. If there are over 40 then you may want to clean up the PC. [ If you need to clean up the PC let me know and I can demonstrate a few easy tricks. ]

If that is okay or you feel your computer is running great then check your wireless signal strength if its anything but low then the problem is the marina access point. Often the marina will limit internet speeds and other than a few hacking techniques (most can get you into trouble) there will be nothing you can do unless you start paying for internet via many options - some listed above.
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Old 19-04-2014, 14:19   #15
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Re: Slow internet in a marina - can it be augmented?

Is that your boat in your avatar? That is some piece of gorgeosity.

I have never experienced decent Internet via marina wifi. In my opinion it is hopeless. If you need a good connection then by all means, as others have suggested, go for 4G mobile telephone internet, via a mifi device.
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