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Old 14-06-2018, 09:39   #1
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Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Hey folks,

Does this exist:

1. A rugged little LTE antenna I can stick on my mizzen mast

2. A little box that gets wired to the the antenna, has a slot for a prepaid sim card, and has an ethernet jack.

??
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:44   #2
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Netgear makes an LTE router with TS-9 antenna connectors. Model LB1120. Would that meet your needs?
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:51   #3
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

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Originally Posted by indimini View Post
Netgear makes an LTE router with TS-9 antenna connectors. Model LB1120. Would that meet your needs?
Not sure, would it?

I don't know much about this - Where does one find antennas for these routers? How do you know if the antenna is compatible with the box? And what cable to use to connect them, and how long it can be, ...

I'm also curious if you can get a setup with, I dont know, fancy antennas that do better than a cellphone. Getting internet access by tethering to my phone is _ok_ onboard, but there were times I wish I had just a little bit better performance.
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Old 14-06-2018, 10:27   #4
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

This router uses a SIM from a provider (not sure who you plan on using). Simply plug it into your network via the ethernet cable. I do know that the Netgear router is a good option for adding an LTE connection to be shared on your network, but you need to verify that the plan you purchase supports 4G data - I've heard of some cases where the modem is throttled to 3G speeds because of the SIM wasn't authorized for 4G data.

The bigger challenge is going to be your antenna selection. To get LTE speeds you need two antennas (hence the two TS9 ports on the router). Some manufacturers make LTE antennas with the two built in. You also need to look at the provider you will be choosing and find out what frequencies they use. You'll want to find an antenna that works for the bands you care about. Here's an example of an outdoor LTE antenna.

I honestly only know enough about antennas to be dangerous, so hopefully somebody with more expertise can chime in.
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Old 14-06-2018, 14:21   #5
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Mikrotik has a hand full of outdoor cellular routers with the antenna built-in. You can find them on the Mikrotik.com website under Hardware. They will have LTE in the product name.

There are usually 3 models of any particular version; 2 with the modem built-in and one that lets you put plug in any mini-PCIe cellular modem that provides the bands you need. The 2 models with a modem included will be a US version and an international version. The US version will cover most North American carriers except for Verizon.

There are also bare boards that can be installed in your own waterproof box.
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Old 14-06-2018, 15:05   #6
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

"I've heard of some cases where the modem is throttled to 3G speeds because of the SIM wasn't authorized for 4G data."
With the US formal end to "net neutrality" we can expect more of that.
And, there's a curious case of Comcast (trying to hide under the new name XFinity). They will only provide cellular service to a phone that has been purchased from them--even if the "same" model is sold unlocked by the maker. There are references online that Xfinity has locked their Galaxy9 phones down to HALF of the max 4G-LTE speed of the normal model.
Carriers can do all sorts of things. And if a router, or any piece of equipment, is not on the carrier's authorized equipment list? Their system will not connect to it for anything except 911 calls. So you either have to start by picking a carrier, or start by picking the equipment, and then see what's going to be allowed.
Overseas, carriers may be a bit more rational about playing nicely.
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Old 14-06-2018, 15:49   #7
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris95040 View Post
Hey folks,

Does this exist:

1. A rugged little LTE antenna I can stick on my mizzen mast

2. A little box that gets wired to the the antenna, has a slot for a prepaid sim card, and has an ethernet jack.

??
The losses between the antenna and the little box would be so large as to negate any advantage of the antenna.

We have a Huawei MIFI device that we plug an antenna into. The whole thing sits on our nav station. Fiberglass is transparent to the cellular frequencies. Works well for us.
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Old 14-06-2018, 15:54   #8
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
T Fiberglass is transparent to the cellular frequencies. Works well for us.
My understanding is that the higher the frequency, the more likely it is to bounce off of structure, so I'd be really surprised if "fiberglass is transparent to the cellular frequencies"

But thanks for the product tip, I'll check it out. And thanks everyone else who has replied, too. Sounds like its a bit of a mess with regard to making sure everything is compatible. Weird.
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Old 14-06-2018, 18:04   #9
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Maybe more technical than you want, but this is an interesting article:
https://sailbits.com/modular-cheaper...-and-mikrotik/
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Old 15-06-2018, 09:09   #10
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

Yes, the Wirie or the Wirie Pro are exactly what you are looking for (plus WiFi).

However, I have a Wirie Pro on my boat with its antenna mounted on the radar mast, and I must say that with recent advances in smartphones and service provider contracts, LTE small cells or LTE hotspots do not make sense anymore, for two reasons:

1. Most recent smartphones offer a personal WiFi hotspot feature, with LTE uplink.

2. If you use a separate LTE small cell on the boat, you need to purchase a separate SIM card for it. With most providers, LTE data cards are comparatively expensive (e.g., last time I checked, T-Mobile data card was $25/month for only 2Gb of data).

It does not make economical sense to have a separate data card, when you can simply place your smartphone somewhere safe on deck and use the personal hotspot from it. The advantage of a separate LTE small cell with an antenna mounted high over a smartphone on a cradle on deck in terms of downlink and uplink speeds is fairly small and does not justify the cost.
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Old 15-06-2018, 16:25   #11
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

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Originally Posted by FabioC View Post
The advantage of a separate LTE small cell with an antenna mounted high over a smartphone on a cradle on deck in terms of downlink and uplink speeds is fairly small and does not justify the cost.

I disagree - with the boat's own LTE connection, it's pretty trivial to set things up to:

-email me when the bilge pump comes on

-email me if the anchor is dragging

etc

Pretty neat stuff!

Thanks for pointing me toward the Wirie, might be the closest thing to what I'm looking for.
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Old 15-06-2018, 19:17   #12
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Re: Help finding simple marine LTE solution

I believe there is some misleading and incorrect information in some of the responses. Yes, there are marine 4G LTE antennas called MIMO omnidirectional antennas. Google it to read up on it. I installed one on my stern rail and ran low loss coax to my nav station (two cables needed) and hooked them to a netgear 4GLTE modem with a sim card. I have google Fi and they give you a second sim card on the same account to use for data. It works really well and I get much better data reception than I would with the tiny antenna in a cellphone. I plug the modem into a router so any device logged into the router has internet access. I also have a Bullet that I plug into the same router via a switch and can switch to WiFi if desired, in my marina for example. I have posted more detail in this thread:
Wifi Extender


I also have a detailed write-up on how to configure the system and will send it to you if you give me your email in a pm. Better and cheaper than the WiRe IMHO.
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