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Old 20-01-2016, 16:27   #1
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What's your WiFi solution ?

It's come to the point where I need to install a better WiFi solution for my needs. Currently I am using ATT for internet, over my cellphone @ $10 USD per GB. I can easily go through this in a day, and $400 - $500/mo bills are things I have seen quite often.

I used to have one of these -

Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 – High Power Long Range 802.11 B G N Wireless > Antennas > WiFi Antennas | C. Crane

And it worked great until I destroyed it's dual plug USB cable. Now I want to install something a little better than zip-tying the above mentioned antenna to one of my VHF masts. I would like to get an antenna and an interior amp. I don't want something like the Bullet -

https://www.ubnt.com/airmax/bulletm/

I need something that goes inside. I live in the PNW and I have no faith in outdoor mounted electronics when the freezing/melting/snow/wind/rain is going on for 6 months straight.

What kind of solutions have you seen or deployed ?
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Old 20-01-2016, 16:53   #2
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

I'm going with a 4g device that can mount in the boat but take an external antenna. The external antenna type is important because the cell network transmits at multiple frequencies so the antenna needs to be able to rx and tx on as many as possible. Surprisingly a lot of external cell antennas don't cover all frequencies and are chosen to suit particular regions. The other thing is that it's best to limit the external antenna to a single 3g antenna because polarised 4g externals start to become a bit complicated on a boat.

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Old 20-01-2016, 17:21   #3
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert644 View Post
It's come to the point where I need to install a better WiFi solution for my needs. Currently I am using ATT for internet, over my cellphone @ $10 USD per GB. I can easily go through this in a day, and $400 - $500/mo bills are things I have seen quite often.

What kind of solutions have you seen or deployed ?
We moved our boat to the Med, and now pay around 1 euro per GB for cellular data in Italy. I expect it to cost even less next season.
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Old 20-01-2016, 19:48   #4
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Karma is a wifi device from LTE cell service. $150 one time fee for the box and 50 bucks a month for 15 GB. There is a pay as you go option as well but I don't have the specifics.
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Old 20-01-2016, 20:29   #5
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

In port at a private dock I use Exede satellite (Wild Blue). I get 15gb for $89/month. No usage charge between midnite and 5am local. Additional gbs are $10. On coastal water I use Verzion 4g for coastal waters within 25 miles of a tower (depends on tower height-ocean conditions). I haven't used it in about a year and don't know the current price, but saw an ad for about the same price/gbs as the satellite.
I used it from Oregon to Alaska via Canadian inland passage. No coverage in remote areas. Extra fee for Canada coverage. I have a Canadian cell phone I use when transiting. Most commercial fishing ports have free WIFI.
Commercial ship broadband with high usage is $10 or more grand a month.
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Old 20-01-2016, 20:46   #6
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
We moved our boat to the Med, and now pay around 1 euro per GB for cellular data in Italy. I expect it to cost even less next season.
I signed up to AT&T digital the first week they started service. Years ago. They offered an unlimited voice and data plan for $99.00 a month to attract new users at a time when they only had a few digital towers at the time in New York. I have been grandfathered into 3G and now 4G and to years later I'm paying only $10.00 a month more. I'm a heavy user. Voice all day long and my smartphone gets more use than any other computer I have.

I also live in Argentina and swap in a local chip when in town. Great plan and even less than the USA. I can even call the US for from Buenos Aires for the cost of a local call. Yes a full international call for the cost of a local BA call.

When I travel to Israel I also buy a local unlimited voice and data chip. I can also use this for unlimited calls to the USA.

I lucked out with my AT&T unlimited plan. I would be crying if I had to pay what others are paying for my level of usage.

Europe mobile costs are incredibly cheaper than the USA. Makes you wonder if the US uses are suffering from price fixing and anti trust law breaking.
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Old 21-01-2016, 01:47   #7
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Thinking of connectivity as well right now. Since we're not planning to leave Europe I'll continue using mobile operators. Currently in Finland I pay around 20 € for unlimited 4g data and a fixed amount of call minutes and sms (more than enough for my use). I use my phone as the wifi hotspot for multiple devices and it works like a dream.

Roaming charges in EU are around 2,50 €/Gb, but would go down if we would get a local SIM for each country we visit I assume (re: Kenomac's post). Roaming charges are on the way out in the EU anyway, but not sure if this will affect data roaming as well or just voice.

My take is, that for our (European coastal) needs, 3g/4g cannot be beat for price or convenience. Will probably get a dedicated 4g wifi dongle for the boat, possibly with external antenna if those increase range.

Edit: are those 10$ / gb prices for local service (i.e. within the US) or roaming charges? Seems bloody expensive!
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Old 21-01-2016, 02:20   #8
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert644 View Post
It's come to the point where I need to install a better WiFi solution for my needs. Currently I am using ATT for internet, over my cellphone @ $10 USD per GB. I can easily go through this in a day, and $400 - $500/mo bills are things I have seen quite often.

I used to have one of these -

Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 – High Power Long Range 802.11 B G N Wireless > Antennas > WiFi Antennas | C. Crane

And it worked great until I destroyed it's dual plug USB cable. Now I want to install something a little better than zip-tying the above mentioned antenna to one of my VHF masts. I would like to get an antenna and an interior amp. I don't want something like the Bullet -

https://www.ubnt.com/airmax/bulletm/

I need something that goes inside. I live in the PNW and I have no faith in outdoor mounted electronics when the freezing/melting/snow/wind/rain is going on for 6 months straight.

What kind of solutions have you seen or deployed ?
The Bullet is still the best solution AFAIK. The new one ("TItanium"?) is much better weatherproofed than the old one was. This will give far better range and far more robust links than other WiFi devices. A key advantage also is that you can mount the Bullet on a radar pole or on a spreader, and get antenna height.

That being said, the Bullet is overkill for 90% of the time (oh, but that 10% . . . ). I mostly use a simple USB wifi device which I hang in a coachroof window, connected with a USB extension. This increases range by probably 10x compared to the built in wifi device in my laptop.


On a boat, I don't personally think there is much point to solutions in between that, and the Bullet. I doubt that the improvements in power and/or antenna efficiency, compared to the simple USB device, will make much difference, without any improvement in antenna height. You will just be blasting your signal even stronger into whatever obstruction is preventing you from having a good connection. To get antenna height, you have to bite the bullet (so to speak) and do some installation and pull some cables, and if you're going to go to all that trouble, then you might as well go whole hog.


Another key advantage of the Bullet is that it is mounted directly onto the antenna, with no coax. You control it remotely via Ethernet, so you don't need physical access to it, so it can be mounted up the mast. At the frequencies used for WiFi, the attenuation in coax antenna cables is enormous, so it is really not a good solution to use a long antenna cable and remote antenna. An amplifier helps but does not solve this problem. With the Bullet, you have zero signal losses due to cabling.
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Old 21-01-2016, 02:28   #9
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandibar View Post
Thinking of connectivity as well right now. Since we're not planning to leave Europe I'll continue using mobile operators. Currently in Finland I pay around 20 € for unlimited 4g data and a fixed amount of call minutes and sms (more than enough for my use). I use my phone as the wifi hotspot for multiple devices and it works like a dream.

Roaming charges in EU are around 2,50 €/Gb, but would go down if we would get a local SIM for each country we visit I assume (re: Kenomac's post). Roaming charges are on the way out in the EU anyway, but not sure if this will affect data roaming as well or just voice.

My take is, that for our (European coastal) needs, 3g/4g cannot be beat for price or convenience. Will probably get a dedicated 4g wifi dongle for the boat, possibly with external antenna if those increase range.

Edit: are those 10$ / gb prices for local service (i.e. within the US) or roaming charges? Seems bloody expensive!
The OP asked about WiFi, not mobile phone data.

I presume he has a good WiFi service he can connect to.

Like most cruisers, I also use mobile phone data as my primary connection. I pay 1 euro per gigabyte of LTE data in most places, and the bandwidth and reliability of the connection is far better than any WiFi connection I've ever had from my boat. So I don't use WiFi for more than maybe 10% of my data.

But the OP may have a different situation, if he has a good WiFi provider, and mobile phone data is so expensive where he is.
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Old 21-01-2016, 04:59   #10
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
The OP asked about WiFi, not mobile phone data.

I presume he has a good WiFi service he can connect to.

Like most cruisers, I also use mobile phone data as my primary connection. I pay 1 euro per gigabyte of LTE data in most places, and the bandwidth and reliability of the connection is far better than any WiFi connection I've ever had from my boat. So I don't use WiFi for more than maybe 10% of my data.

But the OP may have a different situation, if he has a good WiFi provider, and mobile phone data is so expensive where he is.
Yep, as usual read the original post in a hurry and got all excited about the high cost of mobile data abroad
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Old 21-01-2016, 05:09   #11
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

In this case, there are no end of external wifi antennas available. Everything from paired systems to omni directional whips. I'd connect the antenna to a range extender that accepts an external antenna and then pick an antenna to suit the location.

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Old 21-01-2016, 05:26   #12
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

I have the Wirie, type setup and it works OK.

Main issue is it doesn't want to connect to Xfinity networks that are common in FL. If the signal is good enough Incan connect direct to my tablet, but not via the antenna.

Any ideas?
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Old 21-01-2016, 06:31   #13
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

For Wifi, call this guy

Marine WiFi Systems
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Old 21-01-2016, 11:52   #14
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

Thanks for all the responses.

I think I'm going to try and get my Ubiquiti Picostation working first. It seems to me to be basically the same thing as the Bullet, coming from the same company. I have 10' whip extenders on my boat, and I'll just zip tie it to one of those for the time being. When it comes time to sell, I'd like to have a more 'professional' solution, other than some little plastic doodad in a plastic bag ziptied to the end of an old VHF antenna.

I post in another forum, populated by the under 25 crowd, who are know it all experts, and one of them brought up the ATT unlimited wireless plans that a person can buy on ebay for a grand or so.

I have known about these for a long time, and I'm not really taken. Of course the young ones say, 'oh these are good forever and if ATT ever tries to change the unlimited contract you can sue ATT and put them out of business and their friend knows a friend who - - -

But does anyone here have any experience or knowledge about those plans. If I am giving ATT $300-$400 a month anyways, and I pay a grand for one of these plans, after 3 months I'm coming out ahead regardless of what ATT does in the long run.
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Old 21-01-2016, 11:59   #15
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Re: What's your WiFi solution ?

not live aboard, but when I was for a while ... McDonalds McCafe's.
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