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Old 12-05-2021, 14:04   #1
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WIFI - specifically in Europe

Hi All,

I've gone through a number of threads on this topic, but I was hoping for some EU specific advice.

I am picking up my boat from greece and sailing it back to Spain. We plan to be coastal, but it will be a big help to have some fairly reasonable 4g when we are semi close to the shore.

It seems like using the 4g from a sim, and pairing that with a router is the best bet. Does anyone have any advice on the best routers for use in Europe specifically, and whether adding a signal booster is worth the associated cost and installation? I'm happy to do this if anyone has any advice on the best way to go.

The boat will live its life around the med, and we will get a lot more use out of it if it is semi practical to get online and do the remote office thing without major panic about connectivity.

Thanks
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Old 12-05-2021, 14:38   #2
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pirate Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

If your coastal... in other words 10nm or less from the coast you will have no problems picking up WiFi on your phone..
In some places its a bit further, maybe 12-15nm.
What you might find is best results are getting each countries Sim as you go along.. Greece, Italy, France then Spain... they are pretty cheap. Use the phone as a hot spot.
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Old 12-05-2021, 14:52   #3
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

I just got myself the Teltonika RUT-360 ( https://teltonika-networks.com/product/rut360/ ) for LTE and I'm quite happy with it close to the shore. It's a little on the expensive side, but is geared more for industrial applications and runs of 12-30 V.

The performance is good enough for MS-Teams video-sessions and working on Citrix remote sessions day in and day out. Miro, Google Meeting, Zoom and WhatsApp / Signal video-call are good enough and no worse than ADSL.

In general my experience in Spain with the Movistar network (eg Digi) and the Orange network (Orange, Simyo) was ok, depending on the location one or the other was a little better. Vodafone was usually troublesome, but this might be bad luck on my side.I t also depends a little on your anchorage. The more isolated it is the worse the mobile coverage. If I have to work, I usually try to stay close to civilisation.

One big issue is the amount if GB used in a month. Here in Spain the best you get as prepaid are 40 GB for 20€ (digi), which lasts me when I'm a little careful for 2/3 of a Month. The unlimited GB contracts are only postpaid, for which you need to jump through a good collection of hoops to get them, starting with needing a NIE and a Spanish bank account.

The Router has standard antenna-jacks, so if you want to boost it, just get a set of external LTE-antennas and connect those. Up to now this wasn't necessary for me, the included antennas were sufficient.

I also have Ubiquiti Bullet wifi access point with a directional antenna. It works, but I stopped bothering messing with it because getting the passwords for available Wifi-networks is a pain and then many aren't really better than LTE to boot.


NB: Please don't post the same question in multiple boards. Once is enough.
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Old 12-05-2021, 15:14   #4
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

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Originally Posted by Joh.Ghurt View Post
I just got myself the Teltonika RUT-360 ( https://teltonika-networks.com/product/rut360/ ) for LTE and I'm quite happy with it close to the shore. It's a little on the expensive side, but is geared more for industrial applications and runs of 12-30 V.

The performance is good enough for MS-Teams video-sessions and working on Citrix remote sessions day in and day out. Miro, Google Meeting, Zoom and WhatsApp / Signal video-call are good enough and no worse than ADSL.

In general my experience in Spain with the Movistar network (eg Digi) and the Orange network (Orange, Simyo) was ok, depending on the location one or the other was a little better. Vodafone was usually troublesome, but this might be bad luck on my side.I t also depends a little on your anchorage. The more isolated it is the worse the mobile coverage. If I have to work, I usually try to stay close to civilisation.

One big issue is the amount if GB used in a month. Here in Spain the best you get as prepaid are 40 GB for 20€ (digi), which lasts me when I'm a little careful for 2/3 of a Month. The unlimited GB contracts are only postpaid, for which you need to jump through a good collection of hoops to get them, starting with needing a NIE and a Spanish bank account.

The Router has standard antenna-jacks, so if you want to boost it, just get a set of external LTE-antennas and connect those. Up to now this wasn't necessary for me, the included antennas were sufficient.

I also have Ubiquiti Bullet wifi access point with a directional antenna. It works, but I stopped bothering messing with it because getting the passwords for available Wifi-networks is a pain and then many aren't really better than LTE to boot.


NB: Please don't post the same question in multiple boards. Once is enough.

Thanks, this is great info. I'll look in to these options properly tomorrow, and I'm currently flapping around trying to delete the duplicate post, which is proving tougher than expected.
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Old 13-05-2021, 01:51   #5
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

Thanks Joh, thats great info. Being able to get on zoom video calls is the dream. We can make do with just regular calls if needs be, but it will deffo help to convince my business partner that I can work effectively from the boat if I don't have to bring up the quality of the internet connection on every call....

We both have data and Nie's, and it may be that 3 still offer EU roaming - I need to check that. Between our sims we have a few options with some data. My sim is on the Vodafone network, so fingers crossed there, but my UK one roams on Orange so hopefully thats a decent back up.

The RUT360 doesn't appear to be in stock in Spain, but the RUT240 is which seems like a slightly older version of the same unit, or the RUTX11 which is a more expensive but possibly quicker version. I'll try and work out the best option there or check if there is anything else available thats more similar to the RUT360.

Thanks for putting us on the right track!
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Old 13-05-2021, 07:27   #6
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

Colombo,

don't sweat about the router. I was working for a month using my iPhone as a hotspot clamped next to the companionway and running a power cable to it. Worked fine enough.

If you go LTE, it's worth going with the CAT-6. That's why I'd stay away from the RUT-240, which still suports CAT-4 only. The Teltonika is nice because it's made for being powered by battery, but it isn't the only option out there. It was just what I liked most after some research There are other perfectly fine options out there too and you might even consider getting a 5G router.

If you don't do much video-calls (and not much youtube / porn) the data consumption is a lot less. Just turn off all auto-update features on all computers and phones and do manual updates whenever you have wifi. With this, you're going probably going to be fine with 10-15 GB per month.

however remember what works for me or should work in theory doesn't help you. You better do what I did as try it out step by step on your own:
  • First try to do a little work with your phone as hotspot. Worst case try it from home. This should give you an idea whether the performance is good enough to actually do your work. I did this back when I was far away from my boat and it gave me the confidence to move onto the boat.
  • As a second step, if the previous one looked promising, try to work for a whole day or week from the boat. This should give you an idea of the needed data volume and how reception works. I was a little lucky here as I had a few fallback-options in case this didn't work out. But it allowed me - Corona be praised! - to become a liveaboard.
  • If that looks good too, you can start crunching number and ordering parts to improve everything. I set myself as a baseline that it needs to work in the marina with the phone. This way I'll always have a fallback. Better routers / antennas etc will only make it better and allow me to roam around more.
When my son visited me on the boat, he was able to join his classes on Zoom at school without trouble. We just had to make sure the background was neutral enough that his teachers didn't become suspicious and realise he's in a totally different country.
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Old 13-05-2021, 20:47   #7
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by colombo View Post
Hi All,

I've gone through a number of threads on this topic, but I was hoping for some EU specific advice.

I am picking up my boat from greece and sailing it back to Spain. We plan to be coastal, but it will be a big help to have some fairly reasonable 4g when we are semi close to the shore.

It seems like using the 4g from a sim, and pairing that with a router is the best bet. Does anyone have any advice on the best routers for use in Europe specifically, and whether adding a signal booster is worth the associated cost and installation? I'm happy to do this if anyone has any advice on the best way to go.

The boat will live its life around the med, and we will get a lot more use out of it if it is semi practical to get online and do the remote office thing without major panic about connectivity.

Thanks
Congratulations on the boat purchase - the Med is a place you can spend a lot of time!

Regarding data, to be clear, we are talking 3G/4G mobile data here, and you then will feed it into a Wi-Fi system onboard.

It is now legislated that mobile roaming within the EU must be free, so if you get for example a Vodafone data SIM in Greece, you should be able to have data within any EU country without further cost or issues.

The easiest is just to get a small, decent 4G/5G modem (pocket-sized, such as you can pick up in any mobile phone shop - or bring your own). Most of them allow at least 5, but more often 10-20 Wi-Fi connections at once, so that will serve everyone on board, unless you are running a cruise liner.

As for external antennas, I am yet to find a passive (omini-directional - excludes yagi's etc) one that makes any difference at all. An active antenna would be a different matter, but at the microwave frequencies mobile data runs on, the losses in any practical cable size can quickly negate the gain of the antenna and its amplifier, so siting the modem just under the antenna would be a good move.

If the antenna was mounted on an arch, then in a WP box with power feed, or else just under the deck would be where I would locate the modem.

If you really wanted good coverage (bearing in mind the nature of the digital mode, limits range due to timing issues), then atop the mast with either the Wi-Fi linking down to you, or an Ethernet cable down the mast, would be optimal.

If you are wanting to run your business from the boat, you may also want to consider a VOIP phone, so that your contacts can call you as if you were in your home-state. Alternatively, you could just run a VOIP app on your mobile phone.

Hope that helps,

David
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Old 14-05-2021, 00:22   #8
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

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It is now legislated that mobile roaming within the EU must be free, so if you get for example a Vodafone data SIM in Greece, you should be able to have data within any EU country without further cost or issues.
Better be careful to read the fine print on "free". Usually you only can use 50% of your data volume while roaming - for unlimited some number like 40GB is stipulated - and you have to return every 90 days (I think) into your home country. Otherwise you fall out of the free roaming and you get charged again.

For tourism and business-travel these limitations are of no concerns and "Roaming is Free Inside the EU" is pretty true. However for cruisers and expats the details become very relevant. I know of some expats who send their SIM back to friends or family to have them log into the network every quarter.
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Old 14-05-2021, 02:04   #9
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

Thanks all - hopefully I'm pretty set now between the 2 sims we have with decent data supply and the teltonika modem we picked up yesterday (thanks Joh for the tip there).

Hopefully that will be more than enough for our largely coastal hugging needs!

Thanks again.
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Old 14-05-2021, 02:28   #10
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

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Originally Posted by Joh.Ghurt View Post
Better be careful to read the fine print on "free". Usually you only can use 50% of your data volume while roaming - for unlimited some number like 40GB is stipulated - and you have to return every 90 days (I think) into your home country. Otherwise you fall out of the free roaming and you get charged again.

For tourism and business-travel these limitations are of no concerns and "Roaming is Free Inside the EU" is pretty true. However for cruisers and expats the details become very relevant. I know of some expats who send their SIM back to friends or family to have them log into the network every quarter.
Mine has 12GB EU roaming and some has none at all. Nothing stops you from having multiple PAYGO SIM cards but they often have to be activated before leaving the home country.
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Old 14-05-2021, 02:55   #11
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

I use Vodafone Red unlimited and my data plan domestically is unlimited it’s also unlimited under EU roaming , i specifically queried and had this confirmed and have verified it in practice

In “ theory “ you are allowed 90 days ( because in practice EU residency rules kick in ) but in practice Vodafone confirmed they are not enforcing that situation at present.
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Old 14-05-2021, 10:08   #12
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

Many UK operators states prominently on the homepage that you can use all of your data when roaming in Europe and then they have a fair usage policy that says something different!
It's also worth checking if you can tether and particularly if you can tether while roaming in the EU.
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Old 14-05-2021, 14:38   #13
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Re: WIFI - specifically in Europe

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It's also worth checking if you can tether and particularly if you can tether while roaming in the EU.
That's a good point, Anders, and I've seen a few mobile providers who don't allow personal hotspots. But this is where the beauty of the Router comes in: I doesn't care about what the provider allows you to do, it just send the traffic out.
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