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Old 06-01-2015, 07:08 AM   #21
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The ONLY benefit to a marina in having Wi Fi is they can advertise they have WI FI.

Why would they wish to spend big bucks for superior service and equipment ?

Cruising the best Wi Fi comes from unsecured folks or businesses that need to give away free WI FI to keep customers longer.

IF the marina had superior really first class WI FI would you pay an extra $5.00 per night as a transient , or $40-$60 a month as a liveaboard?

A marina might be interested in great service if it was at a profit , but as a costly free be , why bother?

I think your thinking is behind the times on this one. For better or worse reasonably fast to fast WiFi connectivity is what more and more cruisers are looking for. And I think they are willing to pay a bit more for it.

Although I think the smart marinas will build the cost in and offer fast "free" WiFi connection.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:26 AM   #22
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In the Caribbean $50 per month is the normal fee. And we are thankful when it is available.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:36 AM   #23
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We've been writing about marina WiFi directly to marinas for a few years. I've been involved with about a dozen new installations in the last 18 months at marinas wishing to upgrade their WiFi to something significantly better. It's an extremely complex and expensive upgrade. I'll give a little flavor of the issues.

It used to be that a boat would pull into a marina and they'd want access to email. Browsing websites and perhaps paying some bills were were occasionally done but many fewer hours were spent in front of a screen. Most boats had a single laptop.

Move forward just a handful of years and today, most boats arrive as a typical couple. They each have a laptop. And a smartphone. There's often a tablet in the mix along with a multitude of other devices that want to get online. Our off-the-shelf Samsung flat screen TV gets online when there's a WiFi connection - it grabs the TV Guide and other things. It will automatically stream from many sources.

Added to that is Facebook and other online access needs (like this forum). Consider the bandwidth difference between T&T (email) and TrawlerForum (web-based multimedia content). One thread of TrawlerForum requires more bandwidth than a month of T&T at it's highest use!

Then there's streaming video, movies, Skype, chart downloads, app downloads, and on and on.

These last few years haven't witnessed a doubling of bandwidth. The marinas have experienced a 10x increase. Maybe 20x.

So the WiFi infrastructure that the marina owner's brother-in-law installed in 2005 from pieces bought at Best Buy, just won't cut it. It has become a major IT issue in an extremely unfriendly (noise/interference-wise) environment.

The marina is also experiencing issues that they don't know how to deal with. Many boaters expect to bring their iPad deep into their stateroom to surf or watch video. But connecting that iPad through the boat, outside to the marina's antenna is a losing proposition. So the boater complains and the marina has no idea what to do.

We've been trying to help in two ways:

1. Explain the issue to marinas to help them realize that the digital world is a lot different today than just a couple of years ago. We've tried to align some marinas with companies capable of designing and installing higher-end WiFi for marinas. Like I said, about a dozen have gone in with great results although it has been expensive.

2. Explain the issue to boaters to help them realize that they need a better infrastructure on their own boat. Expecting their iPad to connect from the stateroom is unrealistic unless they upgrade their own equipment. Our WiFi newsletter segments have discussed the architecture, products, and suppliers of what's needed on a boat. I'd estimate that 25% of cruising boats have a network today appropriate for WiFi access.

To the marina, this is a very expensive endeavor. I can't give specific costs at specific marinas because that might violate some confidentiality so I'll have to be general about it. The typical marina can't upgrade their equipment for under $20,000 - and that's for a fairly small marina. Added to that is the additional monthly service fees which will add a few thousand dollars per year. Add some difficulties in the installation and the costs get much higher. Within the last 2 months, I was in the middle between a marina and an IT company helping the marina evaluate quotes received. The marina is a 60 slip marina. The installation is rather difficult. The quote for the hardware and installation was $52,000. Realistically, the hardware will be good for about 3-5 years.

All of that said, WiFi today is a utility that boaters expect. It's like water. Unless you're in the Bahamas where they produce each drop through expensive RO means, everyone expects it to be free. Charging extra for WiFi has never worked. Beacon pretty much went out of business trying that model at marinas. We believe that enhanced WiFi will bring more boaters into a marina just because of the WiFi. You might not realize it (because there are so few) but marinas with exceptional WiFi have a special icon in ActiveCaptain (spreading to all apps by the end of this year). Check out Atlantic Yacht Basin's icon where I'm at right now on the ActiveCaptain website:
https://activecaptain.com/X.php?lat=...33835&t=n&z=15

WiFi here is about 5-10 mbps for every boat. I routinely stream video while working on software all day here.

Within the last month, I met with an investor interested in creating a business in boating. The entire face-to-face meeting was about marina WiFi. It's a very large opportunity - I'd guess that at least 200 marinas have contacted us for guidance without even looking for potential customers. The market is easily a few thousand marinas at $20K creating a good $20-$50MM business. But neither of us could figure out a good model that would be affordable to marinas and acceptable to boaters in performance. There's even a fantastic funding capability right now at about 50% of marinas - cable TV. At a few of the marinas we've been involved with, we helped them realize that great WiFi would allow them to eliminate their cable TV hookups. One marina was paying $25,000 per year in cable charges. Their new WiFi system costs $20,000. They saved money in just the first year. They saved nearly the whole cost the second year. To them, it was a no brainer.

There's a very large marina we're talking to today. They pay - get ready for this - $60,000 per year for cable TV. Converting that to WiFi would pay for itself within 2 years. You'd think that would be a simple decision. And yet they sit there right now with no internet access at all. It's a municipal marina and their IT department doesn't like the idea of a high end network but they understand cable TV perfectly. So at $2/foot, there is no WiFi.

I recently thought that mesh networks would solve the entire problem inexpensively. Consider this...

Every boat at a marina is in proximity to the pedestal where they plug into and get water. In most marinas, it's a waterproof structure with power. Mesh networks automatically connect to each other. If one goes out, the others take its place and form the network. Check out this video - Wireless Networking Simplified:
http://www.open-mesh.com/

Mesh repeaters can be obtained for $79-$200 each. And you don't need one in every pedestal - even every 4th or 6th would probably do the job if the boat had a central router too. So that 60 slip marina with the $52,000 quote could expect to pay 60 * $100 = $6,000 for a complete solution. Now we're talking. Every marina would jump at that.

OK, so modeling it with the typical marina topology fails. Slips further out have to go through too many gateways to get to the central connection. All gateways along the path end up getting too swamped with data. The result is that the geometric progression of data flow kills it from working. That $6,000 will be thrown away.

And all of this is going to get worse. There is only more connectivity coming and more expectation of being always connected. I'm working on a new type of boat server that shares sensor/instrument data between boaters. If you consider that we help boaters share their experiences through reviews today, the next generation of that is sharing their real boating data. As you're approaching a shoaling area - you should be able to see the tracks of people earlier in the day or even last week. Want to know where people were actually anchored in an area? See their swing path, depths, and wind conditions they experienced - it's sort of like an automatic review. The Locations app I hope to release this week is an obvious first step - it shares GPS position between boaters and cuts the display in a variety of ways based on the relationship you have with the boats being viewed.

Anyway, my fear is that marinas will install an expensive system only to find it failing in a couple of years.

At the same time, cellular networks are picking up the slack very nicely. Speed is acceptable and access has become pretty great along the east coast and even Bahamas. We just jumped from the Florida border to Beaufort, NC in a 2 night passage and except for about 6 hours after Frying Pan Shoals, we had cellular internet access the entire time. 15 miles off West End at Grand Bahama, we had high speed cellular internet. The problem is that it's expensive. I sadly pay more per month for cellular internet than the monthly rent for my first apartment in 1978. And we often blow away those plans without doing any streaming video.

There are also some access issues in other areas. The west coast of the US has difficult cellular access in the remote cruising areas. Cellular costs through the rest of the world are quite expensive. BTC/Bahamas charged us $30/2GB of use. We can drink that in a good afternoon (without streaming video).

I hope that gives a little flavor into the problems. It's a really difficult one to solve. I know it seems like it should be simple and I'd certainly love to bounce around ideas to come with something that no one has thought about. Marinas all know the problems and would love to buy something to solve it.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:11 AM   #24
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"WiFi today is a utility that boaters expect. It's like water"

In CA the water meter may soon be on the power pole along with the electric meter..
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:31 AM   #25
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Amazing!!!! Just amazing!!!

I cannot believe the audacity of those free wifi providers not providing FREE premium service!

Are we really complaining about something that is FREE!

So how about this...

How about we start paying for our premium service! Did you know your cell phone provider has right now a system in place that they spent millions of dollars on, that will provide you with fast internet.

Yes, you have to pay for it. But then again it works!
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:50 AM   #26
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What is the best wifi booster to boost the signal from a marina? From the bridge I get the signal but not from the salon.
Thanks

Can't say "best" but we use a simple Wave Magnum external USB Wi-Fi adapter from Radio Labs. Inexpensive, no mounting issues, no power issues, simple driver installation.

Ours is old, now; there may be newer/better versions available...

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Old 06-01-2015, 12:35 PM   #27
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I get that most people boating don't care "yet".....but more and more everyday ask about it as they wasn't continuous connectivity in their lives...even if only for the ....restless kids
That is just it though...for many, most probably, being continuous connectivity is what we do NOT want on the boat! My GF kids think the Internet should be like air, never ending and always around. Of course explaining the COST of all of that to them is fun times.
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Old 06-01-2015, 01:58 PM   #28
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That is just it though...for many, most probably, being continuous connectivity is what we do NOT want on the boat! My GF kids think the Internet should be like air, never ending and always around. Of course explaining the COST of all of that to them is fun times.
Do you liveaboard? .....or cruise multiple months out of the year?
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Old 06-01-2015, 02:05 PM   #29
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Amazing!!!! Just amazing!!!

I cannot believe the audacity of those free wifi providers not providing FREE premium service!

Are we really complaining about something that is FREE!

So how about this...

How about we start paying for our premium service! Did you know your cell phone provider has right now a system in place that they spent millions of dollars on, that will provide you with fast internet.

Yes, you have to pay for it. But then again it works!
I posted that I would pay for it.....

But marinas better figure out their pricing then. Charging $15 a night for electricity for 10 hours could certainly be adjusted or metered....especially for smaller vessels.

I don't care about the charge as much as them promoting it as a big deal and then it's unusable for 50 to 100 percent of your stay.

Like charging in season rates as the same as out of season. If the pool, captains lounge, laundry, water and a few other things are unavailable...Charging the same in winter and summer does little to help with customer service. Especially if they don't offer premier slips or ice or more available amenities or at least something to make up for all the advertised things that are closed/unavailable.
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Old 06-01-2015, 03:18 PM   #30
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The likelyhood of "free" internet being truly free, premium or not, is pretty slim in my option. You may not see the cost broken out, but it's in there.
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Old 06-01-2015, 03:50 PM   #31
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I've traveled quite a bit and even at the largest hotel/convention complexes never go without wifi.

There's got to be a better way!
Through work I understand what you are referring to, but the reality is that the equipment used for commercial applications like these is a far cry from the consumer/business products every marina uses.
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Old 06-01-2015, 03:51 PM   #32
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The likelyhood of "free" internet being truly free, premium or not, is pretty slim in my option. You may not see the cost broken out, but it's in there.
It gets even more complicated at a "Public" facility where I am.
While Wifi is "provided", it strains to make it the 300 feet to my boat. A rubber ducky antenna router, a building and trees make it essentially a non event for me. The dockmaster says $20K will get the system up and operational all up and down the dock. Being controlled by the City Council, they are reluctant to provide this "free" service to some, when the rest of the small town will clamor for it as well.. I get it, even though the 20 or so boaters on the waterfront are paying rent.

My Wirie now connects to the Town dock Link with 4 out of 5 bars and an average through-put of 36 mbit/s. There are 18 other signals within range of my on-board set-up. I solved my own problem, though it certainly was not Free to me!

The "WiFi" originates from the building on the right. My boat is behind the last tree on the left. The Waterfront continues another 1/2 mile past that point so you can see the coverage problem

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Old 06-01-2015, 04:10 PM   #33
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Wifi/internet is part of daily life, for us anyway. When a marina or motel/hotel advertises free wifi, which most do, you expect it to work. We're headed to Ortega Landing Marina in JAX next week. They have internet, that's free or at no additional cost. It is built into the rent. They market it as "reliable" internet, which it is. We have been there and you can expect to live stream Netflix. Last year they updated the service as a way to attract more customers. These guys are ahead of the curve and it shows with their vacancy rates which are becoming smaller. Talk to any cruiser, who's looking at a marina to park themselves for a while and good, reliable internet is in the top 5 if not number one of their selection criteria.
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Old 06-01-2015, 04:13 PM   #34
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By far, the two biggest reasons for a poor marina review:

1. Dirty bathrooms/showers. Averages an estimated drop of 2 stars from the review.

2. Poor WiFi. Averages an estimated drop of 1 star from the review.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:33 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
Amazing!!!! Just amazing!!!

I cannot believe the audacity of those free wifi providers not providing FREE premium service!

Are we really complaining about something that is FREE!

So how about this...

How about we start paying for our premium service! Did you know your cell phone provider has right now a system in place that they spent millions of dollars on, that will provide you with fast internet.

Yes, you have to pay for it. But then again it works!
Thanks Kevin and Jeffrey,

I think you both hit the nail on the head.

Marinas are reluctant to spend a lot of money for something that could be obsolete in a few years.

yes, free Wifi attracts customers, but the reality is how many boaters are not going to a particular marina because their free Wifi sucks?

It's more likely marinas will do it the way many places do in Europe, advertize free Wifi, broadcast a strong signal and then never connect the router to the Internet.

I think the real threat though are the cellular companies. As I steamed up and down the east coast, trying to use "free" wifi it soon became apparent at least to me, that for the extra $40/month I needed to pay Verizon, i got a much better connection that gave all my devices all the data they could use for the month.

SO that extra 40 bucks was a dollar a day, even at two dollars a day, I dont see how a marina can invest $20k+ and hope to do better than just breaking even.

I got a wifi extender jsut this past summer for europe. It works well, but that only means sometimes I get a 1G connection, 4G

I really miss Verizon.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:43 PM   #36
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Greetings,
We got a much better deal with AT&T than Verizon for our onboard Internet. Twice the amount for 1/2 the price. Our marina suffered from overuse at peak hours and was impossible to access at times so we started out with Verizon and then went to AT&T.
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:23 PM   #37
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We've been writing about marina WiFi directly to marinas for a few years. I've been involved with about a dozen new installations in the last 18 months at marinas wishing to upgrade their WiFi to something significantly better. It's an extremely complex and expensive upgrade. I'll give a little flavor of the issues...
Jeff, thank you for sharing your experience! I think you hit a number of nails right on the head.

Here's my take: This whole mess may just resolve itself.

My marina shares it's consumer-grade cable-modem Internet connection over a high-power wireless router with a high-gain external antenna. It's actually quite usable on most of the docks.

It doesn't work down in the cabin of many boats. It slows badly if too many members try to watch streaming video.

But everyone now uses cell phones with data plans. The complaints have died way down over the past year or so. I suspect this trend will continue, as people start to give up on the whole idea of local Wi-Fi.

There's no way our member-owned marina would approve a $20,000 expenditure just so a few boaters could stream video, especially knowing it'll be obsolete in 3 years. I think wired Internet providers have priced themselves out of the market.

Far better to let those who need the high speed pay for it from their cellular provider, and the rest of us who just check e-mail, look up parts on the web or use forums like this will use the slow Wi-Fi when we can, and tether our smart phones when we have to.

That said, I agree a marina with a quality signal is a good find. I just don't see a lot of the marinas I stay being able to cost-justify it.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:03 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
Amazing!!!! Just amazing!!!

I cannot believe the audacity of those free wifi providers not providing FREE premium service!

Are we really complaining about something that is FREE!

So how about this...

How about we start paying for our premium service! Did you know your cell phone provider has right now a system in place that they spent millions of dollars on, that will provide you with fast internet.

Yes, you have to pay for it. But then again it works!
The reference to "free" is only the Marina's excuse for the poor service - suggesting just accept what it is. There is nothing free about it from what they are paying this vendor for the poor level of service, AND I guarantee that I AM paying for it as a part of my slip fee. Additionally, this wifi/internet access vendor goes to great lengths to discuss the difficulties of access in marinas and how they overcome and provide the expected levels of access and bandwidth.

I get it. I COULD pay for cellular. However, as long as they tell me as a tenant that I have access to wifi, garsh darn it, I'd like it to have some semblance of functioning wifi. I'd even spend a couple hundred dollars for additional equipment to reach their equipment LOCATED 50 AND 100 FEET from my boat - if I had any confidence it would work. I'm not sure they even legitimately are providing any acceptable bandwidth pipeline.

I'm learning what I can here. I appreciate every informative response. As well as some of the other comment.
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Old 06-02-2015, 06:25 AM   #39
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Our home phone is a Verizon , $19,95 a month plus of course 25% in taxes.

Works great for snowbirds , just take it along. North or South

We take it on out motor coach and aboard the boat , same good results with an inverter powering it.

Wont download Gone With The Wind , but works as a communication device.
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