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Old 03-23-2017, 07:57 AM   #1
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Wifi/ Internet

I recently purchased my trawler and work online mostly. I'm not sure what really works out there for Marine capabilities and such for either? My marina that I am in now has horrible wifi and was curious is this the case of most marinas and Wifi?

1. Do these wifi range finders really work? Like Shakespeare, Alfa WiFi and such? I've seem as low as 50 to 399 and all have promises, but no real reviews. If not could you recommend some?

2. Looking to not break the bank.

3. For now I'm inland in a lake , but once I master this baby, I intend on getting her coastal. Do the ICW and follow the coast. I'm new at this so my options are open.

4 looking to not break the bank, but I need a decent connection.

Any ideas and help would be appreciated..
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:04 AM   #2
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If you do a search there are lots of threads on this subject, with lots of good products.

That said, it's been my experience that with only a few exceptions, marina wifi is poor to completely unusable. When my cellular internet works better, which it almost always does, the wifi has a serious problem. I'd say it's at best 1 out of every 10 marinas where I find the wifi usable.

Historically a lot of people judge marinas based on the conditions of the bathrooms and the laundry. To me, the number one criteria aside from being a place to dock, is the quality of available internet service.
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:20 AM   #3
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I use the marina WiFi when it works and a Verizon hot spot when it doesn't. Verizon isn't the cheapest but it has the best coverage.


If you are working on-line, you are going to want something reliable and you may want something secure. Marina WiFi is not secure.
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:43 AM   #4
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The days of being able to find a non password protected wifi signal are mostly gone and as you note, marina wifi coverage isn't very good. But cell phone data has improved significantly over the years and as wifi has gotten less usable, cell service has gotten more so.

We anchor out or camp out about 30-40 days each summer. We use internet for web browsing, downloading of the NYT and books, email and to a limited degree my wife keeps tabs on her consulting business. We have found that with this activity we use on average 200 MB of data each day, so our 6 GB plan handles it fine.

Since we don't need to be connected every day, we haven't bothered with a cell signal booster as we can wait a day or so for a better location and signal and so far that has worked fine for us. We use Verizon.

If you need better coverage then look for a cell signal booster. Active Captain has an extensive discussion of options here- https://activecaptain.com/articles/m...ones/intro.php

So unless you need access to video streaming or other large data consumers, a cell phone with a decent data plan backed up by a cell signal booster can keep you and your business pretty well connected.

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Old 03-23-2017, 08:44 AM   #5
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Marina WiFi is not secure.
That's really not always true. There are cases where it is, but lots where it isn't.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:02 AM   #6
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Thank you everyone. Maybe cell signal booster is the way to go? I just need to be on long enough to conduct online classes then just check on papers to grade, updates, and postings. Every now and then a meeting. That is about it... I'll search more in depth next time. God bless and kindness wishes.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:17 AM   #7
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So unless you need access to video streaming or other large data consumers, a cell phone with a decent data plan backed up by a cell signal booster can keep you and your business pretty well connected.

David
That's what a lot of us want (need). Once you have a good source for streaming, the entertainment options are endless and dirt cheap. Any good answers on streaming capability?

Thx
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:45 AM   #8
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That's what a lot of us want (need). Once you have a good source for streaming, the entertainment options are endless and dirt cheap. Any good answers on streaming capability?

Thx
That is why marina wifi service is so lousy. Signal strength can be good, but with a dozens users streaming video over a 10 Mbps connection, usability drops significantly.

Good 4G cell service streams video ok. But you will use a lot of bytes to stream an HD movie, about 5GB.

Cell data is the only way I know where you can usually get good reasonable speed service. Wifi is often blocked or of poor quality, Hughes satellite service takes a big dish pointed accurately and KVH VSAT or similar satellite voice and data service is outrageously priced.

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Old 03-25-2017, 09:40 PM   #9
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That is why marina wifi service is so lousy. Signal strength can be good, but with a dozens users streaming video over a 10 Mbps connection, usability drops significantly.

Good 4G cell service streams video ok. But you will use a lot of bytes to stream an HD movie, about 5GB.

Cell data is the only way I know where you can usually get good reasonable speed service. Wifi is often blocked or of poor quality, Hughes satellite service takes a big dish pointed accurately and KVH VSAT or similar satellite voice and data service is outrageously priced.

David

David,

Good points, and my experience with wifi at marinas, motels and other places where you expect it has been horrible.

I don't really see a good option unless the personal wifi spot gets a lot cheaper.
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:27 PM   #10
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I would suggest streaming through AT&T's hotspot
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:02 PM   #11
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I will be setting up my next boat both for WiFi and multiple cellular hotspots (VZW & AT&T). With Wifi calling on cell phones, I don't see value in a cell repeater/amp. Really just need a decent router, hotspot that can connect to the router, and a wifi and cellular antenna mounted outside. AT&T has the Mobley which can be hacked to work on a boat for $20/month unlimited service. I must remain connected most of the time and have found times when there is no cell service and only wifi, other times where the wifi stinks and there is only cell service but one provider is overloaded (so I carry two cell providers equipment).
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:59 PM   #12
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This is the exact same setup that I have on my boat

Cradlepoint MBR1200 router, and USB modems from two different carriers.

The only addition is that on the boat we fall back to satellite service if the two cellular carriers both unavailable.
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:07 PM   #13
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This is the exact same setup that I have on my boat

Cradlepoint MBR1200 router, and USB modems from two different carriers.

The only addition is that on the boat we fall back to satellite service if the two cellular carriers both unavailable.
You just reminded me that I have one of those collecting dust somewhere. Stopped using it because it could only do one wifi band. I think they are EOL now anyways.

Cheap solution is an asus 68u t-mobile router ($50) and a usb modem/tether.
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:25 PM   #14
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You just reminded me that I have one of those collecting dust somewhere. Stopped using it because it could only do one wifi band. I think they are EOL now anyways.

Cheap solution is an asus 68u t-mobile router ($50) and a usb modem/tether.
Actually they are current production

The thing you get out of the third party (pick your brand but I prefer cradlepoint) ruter is that it can utilize more than one WAN connection and either prioritize between them, with automattic failover and failback.

For example you can use WAN over WIFI as your primary connection (using your marinas wifi), then fail over to cellular if that is unavailable.

On mine I have two cell carriers, and a satellite so it prioritizes them in order of cost. Then on the satellite link it blocks things that stream video like camers and my apple TV, to reduce bandwith costs.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:31 PM   #15
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Actually they are current production

The thing you get out of the third party (pick your brand but I prefer cradlepoint) ruter is that it can utilize more than one WAN connection and either prioritize between them, with automattic failover and failback.

For example you can use WAN over WIFI as your primary connection (using your marinas wifi), then fail over to cellular if that is unavailable.

On mine I have two cell carriers, and a satellite so it prioritizes them in order of cost. Then on the satellite link it blocks things that stream video like camers and my apple TV, to reduce bandwith costs.


Kevin, how well does your Apple TV perform when the data feed is from one of the cell sources?
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:40 AM   #16
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Kevin, how well does your Apple TV perform when the data feed is from one of the cell sources?
I'm not Kevin but I'll chime in anyway. I have a Peplink MAX Mini router with T-Mobile unlimited (for Puget Sound and Canada) and AT&T (for Alaska) SIM cards. Also a Ubiquiti Bullet for WiFi-as-WAN. No satellite.

Apple TV works great on LTE. We're at Blake Island right now and streamed TV for hours yesterday evening. No hiccups, great quality, about 7gb of data used.

I'm routinely using over 100gb in a billing cycle and haven't noticed any "deprioritization" or throttling yet. The T-Mobile SIM card is a tablet line with "One Plus International." Cost is $45 per month when added to my existing T-Mobile account. Coverage is really good from Seattle through the San Juans and it roams for free on Telus and Bell and Rogers in Canada.

I almost never connect to WiFi-as-WAN. The vast majority of the time marina WiFi is wayyyy slower than LTE and most 3G, but occasionally there's a slow WiFi signal and no LTE or 3G.
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:27 AM   #17
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Like Retreiver posted above our apple TV works great over a cellular connection.

We have accounts with two cell carriers because when the cruise ships come to our home port the AT&T system gets overloaded and is almost unusable. During those times we can always get 10mbps from the other carrier. I also like the redundancy since the boats alarm system needs a connection to communicate with us if there is a problem on the boat.

The trick to cellular data is to have a large data allocation, at a cheap rate, or a unlimited plan. Moves take several gig of data so if you are stuck on a old plan, a movie can get expensive.

We also do not use wifi as a wan source.

We have a 60 gig plan with AT&T and rarely go over.
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:12 AM   #18
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Like Retreiver posted above our apple TV works great over a cellular connection.

We have accounts with two cell carriers because when the cruise ships come to our home port the AT&T system gets overloaded and is almost unusable. During those times we can always get 10mbps from the other carrier. I also like the redundancy since the boats alarm system needs a connection to communicate with us if there is a problem on the boat.

The trick to cellular data is to have a large data allocation, at a cheap rate, or a unlimited plan. Moves take several gig of data so if you are stuck on a old plan, a movie can get expensive.

We also do not use wifi as a wan source.

We have a 60 gig plan with AT&T and rarely go over.
what alarm do you use? does anyone have a whole boat monitoring system that connects to the internet and can send them SMS/email/app notifications for things like low battery, loss of AC power, high water alarm, temperatures, smoke, CO, security, etc?
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:31 PM   #19
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Thank you Retriever and Kevin. My wife wants me to figure out and setup the Sat TV system. She gets what she wants (eventually). When I do that I am also thinking of upgrading the TV to a smart TV of some kind to make Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube available. It sounds like my hotspot tether may work OK for that. I just might test it at home.
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:32 PM   #20
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what alarm do you use? does anyone have a whole boat monitoring system that connects to the internet and can send them SMS/email/app notifications for things like low battery, loss of AC power, high water alarm, temperatures, smoke, CO, security, etc?
I use a Lowes IRIS home alarm system.

We monitor

Bilge water (two places)
Smoke and CO (several places)
Temperature (several places)
Shore power
Inverter power
Battery voltage
Intrusion

Admittidly the shore power, and inverter power, and battery voltage are not factory supported functions. This required me to modify a door contact sensor to accept the contact closures. The great thing is that the sensors are battery operated and wireless, making installation easy. Batteries in each sensor last a long time (I have only replaced one battery in a single device)

This system has been in place for over a year and is fantastic in that I have an app on my phone that communicates with the system providing real time status and alarm notification.

I also have another system made by a company called sensaphone. This one from the factory supported the contact closures for battery, shore power, and inverter power, but everything is hardwired and there is no way to check on the system remotely. It does provide email notifications of alarm events, but my concern is that I have no way to know if the system is operating while I am away short of leaving a laptop on the boat and accessing it remotely (which is actually not such a bad idea).

Sensaphone has a new system out that is accessable remotely, but I really like the Iris system, and am happy with the contact closures I am using. I think that as time goes on they will end up adding those functions as a factory supported option.
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