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Old 03-12-2012, 09:52   #1
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Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

Friends,

Does anyone have a not-to-technical solution for obtaining wireless internet access through the Florida Keys when at anchor or on a mooring ball?

I have read about wireless internet "range extenders" that apparently electronically reach out to and pull in (to the boat) shore-based wireless signals? I know nothing more about them, except that they cost $350-$450? To use this technology, I assume the boat has to be fairly close to shore and fairly close to a (free) wireless access location, like a coffee shop, etc. in order to work? Anyone with experience?

I am also aware of some device used in land-based RV's for wireless internet access using an on board device and a monthly fee subscription? Anyone with experience using such a system in the keys?

We expect to be cruising the Keys for nearly three months beginning mid-December.

We will appreciate any help or suggestions anyone can offer.

Thank you.

JEdward
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:59   #2
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

JE... first welcome to CF! Secondly I recommend the system sold by Island Time PC Marine WiFi Systems

I have had it installed for two+ years now and am very happy. I have seen distances as much as 8 miles to a high site hot spot and as much as a mile across populated areas. I can't speak for the rest of the Keys, but in Key West there are MANY free hotspots as well as some paid ones.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:21   #3
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

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Friends,

Does anyone have a not-to-technical solution for obtaining wireless internet access through the Florida Keys when at anchor or on a mooring ball?
Here is a DIY explanation DIY Wi-Fi System
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:56   #4
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

The thing to remember is that nowadays more and more wifi signals are secured. Just because you can reach out 5 miles and pull in dozens of signals doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to be able to connect to any of them. It does increase your odds of finding an unsecured hot spot, of course, but it is no guarantee.

What you really need to find out is where the unsecured hot spots are in the Keys. Unfortunately, it has been some years since my last visit down there, so I can't help you with that.
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Old 04-12-2012, 16:13   #5
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

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Does anyone have a not-to-technical solution for obtaining wireless internet access through the Florida Keys when at anchor or on a mooring ball?

What you may think of as WiFi really has a couple different types of solutions.

One path can be as simple as going ashore and using a free hotspot with your laptop's onboard WiFi adapter... which is BTW actually just a radio. Or you can use an external adapter (radio) with a better antenna. The latter category can range from not very expensive and almost dead simple (e.g., see RadioLabs' Wave Magnum USB-driven adapter) and then some of the others can be a bit more complicated but also maybe more effective at "longer" distances, but YMMV for the distances. And too, how far out will you anchor?

A second path is to bypass all that and use a cellular data plan, with either an "aircard" (also a radio, but uses telephony frequencies and technology) or by tethering your laptop to your smartphone. Of these two, the aircard approach is slightly easier and less cluttered, but if you already have a good data plan and a smartphone, tethering is relatively easy.

There are pros and cons associated with data speeds for those two major paths, and I'm not current on what networks might be available in the Keys...

-Chris
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Old 08-12-2012, 14:05   #6
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

We love our Verizon MiFi. It works great everywhere we've been except the Bahamas. It supports up to 10 devices. We use it as our sole internet provider both at home on land or sea. The 4G is fast and reliable.

In the Bahamas we use a range extender that was easy and inexpensive to put together. It's similar to the one that Chuck from the Beach House made.
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Old 09-12-2012, 13:25   #7
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There are several issues with marine WiFi that you should consider.

The WiFi spectrum is made up of 12? Overlapping frequency bands. Think... Your at a party.. You are having a conversation.. But you can hear the other people as well - the noisier they are the harder it is to hear the person you want to.

For boat use your going to want a high gain external antenna. This takes the electrical signals and send them across the air. The higher the gain of the antenna the louder you will be heard, and the more you can hear.
This is your megaphone.. The bigger the gain the more you can hear. But higher gain means physically bigger too.
More radio waves have to hit it.. So it has to be bigger.
For most of us we want an omnidirectional antenna. ... So we don't have to turn it to point in the right direction.
I have 2 .. A 9dB and a 15dB... The later gets signals from my marina at 12nm heeled over. The mount was gimbaled with the radar.

The later you leave the network signals in digital form the less they will be degraded. So you want the Wi-Fi transmitter at the antennae. The network people do this a lot so they are used to sending power up the cable. However check your power inserter. I blew 2 before I worked out that the bat charger and it went playing nice.

Inside the boat you have to decide what you are using the network for. And if you need a firewall between u and the outside world. Thankfully most cheap products now include a firewall. However try and have your internal network on a different band than the external... Otherwise some one is trying to shout 2 conversations next to each other.
My internal net is on 5Ghz.. As not all devices support 5Ghz you need to be careful about buying your devices.

Lastly protect your net with a password. Just follow the instructions. Why.. Well you will likely gather loads of personal information on your net.. So keep it safe.

Hope this helps!

Mub

Please ask any questions...
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Old 09-12-2012, 14:45   #8
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Re: Wiresless Internet Access in the Florida Keys?

there are paid subscriptions to various wireless network hotspots in the south florida intracoastal area .. by the day or month .. you can connect to them and then proceed with the minimal payment. they work really well.
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