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Old 30-07-2008, 10:40   #1
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Question Internet Costs and Availability

Hi all! I hope I haven't missed this in some thread, but my search didn't pull anything up.

Once we get off the ground, no pun intended , we hope to sustain our income with online work. I have to figure out which field will be the most conducive to cruising, but in order to figure out what work I should focus on, I was wondering if anyone that cruise from Florida to say, Jamaica could give me some insight on these particulars. We would probably stay mostly in the Caribbean, but it never hurts to ask!

1. Is the Internet broadly available, or do you need to anchor near land?

2. What types and costs are the connections?

3. If you have an Internet-based* business that brings in a sufficient income for frugal to comfy cruising, would you mind sharing your experiences?

I'm so new to this, and really would like to have this lifestyle for our family and make it work without starving...

*By Internet -based business, I mean anything that you do that the only correspondence requirement with the Co. you contract for or work for is an Internet connection.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 30-07-2008, 10:56   #2
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There are satellite based internet connections which are fine for offshore use, but are very expensive.

There are cellular based internet connections off of land maybe a mile or two or a little more if you are lucky. Those cost much less than satellite.

There are WiFi connections found around most harbors now in more advanced countries. Some are subscription based and some are free.

Some marinas offer cable or DSL connections at the dock.

Life begins where land ends.
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Old 30-07-2008, 11:13   #3

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A lot will depend on what "the internet" means to you. Searching on "internet" or "internet connections" should give you many hits on this forum and elsewhere, it is a common topic.

WiFi is the cheapest, sometimes free, with generally good bandwidth. But folks are complaining that Skype users running video are crowding bandwidth, and as a result some applications are getting locked out and some locations are allocating services.

Satellite internet is global--but pricey. Expect 2400-9600bps speeds and to use it pretty much for essential email or wx charts only at that price.

Cellular internet requires local (national) cellular service. You wouldn't want to use a US-domestic account in the BVI and get charged international roaming rates for the data connection. Now, multiply that by the need for a local (national) account in whatever nations you are in. If you are moving about, that could get pricey. In the US, unlimited data service is about $50/month IF you have an existing voice line, and "unlimited" still is usually capped at 5GB/month. Speeds are like modems not high end broadband.

And then there are private systems like Inmarsat, pricey equipment, pricey airtime, search the web for "satellite internet" and you'll find them. The "DishPC" and similar services are not suitable for marine users, the dishes have to be mounted on solid gorund, and aligned manually at each installation site.

A combination of cellular (if you're within one national system) and WiFi (moving around) would probably give you the most bang for the buck, if you are island-hopping and moving in/ou of US coverage.
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Old 30-07-2008, 11:14   #4
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Here are a few links to previous discussions on Internet availability and working while cruising. Hope they're helpful!
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Old 30-07-2008, 11:17   #5
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Wow. You guys are fast! Thank you all! I will look up those links Hud, thank you!
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Old 30-07-2008, 21:04   #6
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A 100% full time at sea internet connection is way to expensive for any practical use beyond quick emails but if you are island hopping in the Caribbean you are almost always within 36 hours of a connection. Especially around islands with a number of vacation/rental villas. You would be amazed how many people put wifi routers in their villas and never bother to lock them down.

This spring I rigged an Engenius 3220 wifi router with an 8db antenna at the top of his mast. We found more open signals than we could count in the BVI. So far he hasn't gotten south of Nevis but found several usable connections at most anchorages with near by villas out to a range of about 2 miles. He is heading north now and reports good signals around Provo and in Georgetown. A few commercial operators charge a fee of $5 to $10/day but usually you can find 2 or 3 signals that are free.

Skype is almost impossible for an ISP to block so VOIP usually works well. Heavy load sites like You Tube don't.
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Old 31-07-2008, 04:07   #7
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Almost all Caribbean harbors have a subscription wifi service. The cost is 30 to 40 US per month.
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Old 31-07-2008, 08:13   #8

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"Skype is almost impossible for an ISP to block so" As I said, USERS are blocking it, not ISPs. The guys at a marina or YC who own the router you are connecting to? Some of them have reported that they are blocking Skype in their firewalls, which is Real Damn Easy, because boaters using video calls have hogged too much bandwidth.
Skype and firewalls Skype help on how to get past some firewalls and some blocks.

It would be politically inadvisable, but equally simple, for any ISP to block Skype. ISPs have more options to control connections.

You'll also find that many ISPs (including BellSouth and Hughes/DirectPC in the US) block access to "port 25" on residential-grade service in order to force customers to business-grade service. Port 25 access is necessary for some folks to send email from their own host services. So the traveler also needs to be able to use webmail (a web interface rather than an offline POP or IMAP email server) or alternate port addresses in order to get past that, in case the WiFi service you are tapping into is a filtered residential-grade connection.

Like using spring lines, heaving to, or sailing easy it is depends on how experienced the user is. For the novice computer user without any tech help on board--it can be a stopper.
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