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Old 04-12-2015, 23:04   #1
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Question WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

Phones and data plans have come a LONG WAY, I actually get 7GB of tethered ("mobile hotspot") data for free already. Important point, I liveaboard at a marina in the middle of Seattle - not a problem for cellphone coverage... so;

Should I just skip the whole $500 WiFi antenna altogether?

I figure its a major pain to rely on the marina's wifi, when my phone's data speed is much faster anyway...
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Old 05-12-2015, 00:35   #2
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

We use a combination. Wifi where it's decent and cell where it's not.

Not sure where you are getting 7gig for free but even with that, watch a few movies and it will be gone long before the month is up.

No $500 antenna. We are thinking of upgrading the antenna but looking at something more on the order of $50-100 as the idea of anchoring out and stealing wifi from open sources really doesn't work like it did 5-10yrs ago.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:04   #3
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

I suspect that technology is moving beyond local WiFi hot spots. As valhalla360 said, it's getting harder to find random signals to steal. Marina networks are overrun by folks streaming video over them.

I happen to have a high-power WiFi extender that works great. I never even installed it because it's so rare to find a network that's just out of range, but isn't saturated by other users. We rely mostly on cell data. Coverage and rates are getting better all the time. A marina with a good, strong and fast connection is still a great find, but far from a necessity anymore.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:17   #4
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

I've not visited many, but I have never found a Marina with a good, strong, and fast connection.
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Old 05-12-2015, 08:05   #5
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

Whether they realize it or not, every Comcast Xfinity subscriber has a virtual access point that acts as a WiFi hotspot for other Xfinity subscribers. This virtual access point has a separate SSID (wifi network name) from their home network.

This means that if you have Xfinity service, or have a friend or relative willing to share their account login, there are thousands of WiFi hotspots in the US that you can connect to at no cost.






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Old 05-12-2015, 08:22   #6
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

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Originally Posted by jibstay View Post
Whether they realize it or not, every Comcast Xfinity subscriber has a virtual access point that acts as a WiFi hotspot for other Xfinity subscribers. This virtual access point has a separate SSID (wifi network name) from their home network.

This means that if you have Xfinity service, or have a friend or relative willing to share their account login, there are thousands of WiFi hotspots in the US that you can connect to at no cost.






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This is true, not to mention Xfinity also has an app that allows you to stream cable TV from the Xfinity account. Especially on a cell phone with a small screen you can watch TV from these hot spots. Problem is as others have noted even the Xfinity hot spots can attract so many folks all the electrons are used.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:10   #7
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

1) 7G free is insane. Who and how do you sign up?

I used my Batelco hotspot-only phone in the Bahamas and never exceeded my 5G allowance - but I never streamed anything - with my and the admiral's computers. But I paid $40/mo; extra gigs were $10 up to 5 - and a 15G was 70/mo, on 4G or LTE bandwidth, where available (some areas, not, but at least, if you can see a cell signal, you're on the air).

That failure to exceed my limit in the Bahams has led me to ignore my ...

2) If you're a geek (most aren't) you can put this together cheaply, and then program it to work for you, or, if you're not, and want the very best customer service you could possibly ask for, instead, you could buy for under a quarter-boatbuck, the islandtimepc.com WiFi setup. I have mine atop my mast (my installation is one of several shown; different strokes, etc.), and routinely would connect, under way, as much as 7 miles out, and my preferred stations in the Marsh Harbour area were 6, 8 and 12 miles away, respectively. But that goes back for 10 or more years; open spots are becoming more challenging to find. However, see Xfinity...

So, WiFi high-powered adapter and antenna rigs (over POE, so just a single ethernet cable) work, and still work. But, as noted, open sites are less frequently found.

Except... I'm now in a marina, on a ball, along with all the other triple-rafted folk, and the marina WiFi is trampled. But I use the strongest visible Xfinity signal, as my MIL, who lives 3 miles from here, is a Comcast sub, and I thus have her login. Works up and down the east coast, or wherever Comcast/Xfinity is found.

That said, and I won't go into it here, because that's not the question asked, I'm working on a data plan-based free (if you ignore the data plan) cell phone involving Google's hangouts, previously Google Talk. So, it goes both ways; I can get WiFi signals into the boat, and log my phone on, and call out over Hangouts; I expect I can use my phone, as I do in the Bahamas (data only phone, but hangouts are data, not cell calls), for WiFi and phone calls...

So, I use my WiFi nearly exclusively here in the US, but my data phone in the Bahamas.

YMMV.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:13   #8
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

I find the comments so far about the general poor quality of Wifi in marinas both good news and bad news.
It was good to hear that my marina isn't the only one with lousy reception. It was bad news to hear that it seems marinas in general have lousy Wifi.
So I also use a combination of 3G which is getting better and cheaper all the time and marina wifi when it is not having a bad hair day.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:20   #9
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

We have had a very different experience than others have reported. Most marina wifi is very usable for us, we do NOT do any video streaming. There are some with poor service, but for the most part we find it works well. Perhaps that is because we use a combination of our own wifi external antenna, see our blog posts, and our Verizon phone as a hotspot when needed. It seems to be about a 50/50 mix, but we travel a lot and are seldom in one spot for a long period of time. There is absolutely no need to spend $500.00 for a wifi set up. Here is our wifi progression. Like most blogs, the posts are from most recent to oldest, so try reading them from the last one first. Chuck
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:37   #10
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

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clip...

There is absolutely no need to spend $500.00 for a wifi set up.


clip...
Agreed. The one I cited is well under 250, and if you have the chops, you can buy the same parts for less and do it yourself.

WiFi definitely still has a place in our arsenal; it's what we use all the time in the US...

So, I don't know where the $500 came from, but some form of enhanced WiFi may well be of use to the OP or others looking on.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:47   #11
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

And I still want to know how to get a free 7G data plan, as a data plan is how I expect to convert my Bahamas phone to the US without using a cell voice plan...
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:08   #12
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

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And I still want to know how to get a free 7G data plan, as a data plan is how I expect to convert my Bahamas phone to the US without using a cell voice plan...
Wow it seems like I'm holding off on a huge secret!

I'm on T-Mobile, unlimited everything for $50, with an included 7gb of tethering.

They have unbelievable deals right now, by far the best carrier in North America. Everyone else is trying to catch up, which is why you are seeing great deals from att and others - competition is finally here!
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:17   #13
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

Ah. Free...

Actually a package which is $50.

It's like saying my Comcast bundle includes free HBO and whatever the other one is which I forget at the moment.

Still, 7G in a package (is it throttled after a certain number?) is nice.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:41   #14
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

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Ah. Free...

Actually a package which is $50.

It's like saying my Comcast bundle includes free HBO and whatever the other one is which I forget at the moment.

Still, 7G in a package (is it throttled after a certain number?) is nice.
Haha your right, but it IS "free" to me since I need to have a cellphone anyway.
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:30   #15
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Re: WiFi Antenna vs ... my Phone?

I built a wifi extender one time worked great for then I'm sure it has come a long way sense then. I used this guide:

How to Supercharge Your Router with DD-WRT
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