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Old 08-25-2011, 12:22 PM   #1
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Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

In anticipation of next summer's cruising I am looking for*affordable cellular internet access in British Columbia.* My current US carrier (Consumer Cellular) does not have a roaming plan for Canada nor do they have USB web access sticks.* My thought is to buy a USB stick in BC with pre-paid access or pay-as-you-go.* We do not need voice nor do I want to change carriers.* Area of operation would be from the Washington/BC border up to Prince Rupert.* When we get to Alaska we can use our current carrier.

Any advice from the gang would be appreciated.*
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:06 PM   #2
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

I use my Verizon plan and just add on Canada to the US plan for the month I'm in BC. It's a pricey add on, $20 extra for the phones and $100 for the data, limited to 200 MB. The Verizon US data plan is $50, for 5 GB. I looked several years ago for a month to month data plan in CA but did not find one at the time.

Verizon is said to have the best coverage on the inside passage. You will still find many spots with no coverage. If you really need coverage for as much of the time as you can get, be sure to get a data stick/modem that can utilize an outside antenna, and an antenna and booster as needed.

Ken
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:03 PM   #3
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Thanks, as I said I really don't want to change carriers plus Consumer Cellular doesn't have an option to add Canadian service.* Roaming on Rogers or Telus is very expensive.*
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:24 PM   #4
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Try searching Rogers Communications or Telus. *They both offer Wireless internet throughout B.C. *I know Rogers has a USB thumbdrive wireless adapter. *But I think you are going to find they are not cheap if you just want to use their service for a couple of weeks. *Generally they want a two year contract or buy the adapter outright.

*

Larry B*
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Old 08-25-2011, 05:50 PM   #5
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Even though we have Verizon, we use BBX for internet in BC. We pick up e-mails on Verizon phone. We chose Verizon 5 years ago after looking at other PNW options. At that time they offered a North Anerica plan, not sure if that is still the case. Right now we are in Coal Harbour using BBX. Many marinas have there own wireless too. We are also members of Vancouver Is libraries - they have computers. In Alaska, library use or marina wifi (quite common)*is a good way to stay in touch
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:37 PM   #6
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Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Here's another vote for BBX.* It is important to use a remote antenna placed as high as possible in the boat to have good coverage in the marinas.* We plugged an ordinary home wi-fi box into a mid line antenna and kept it on the flybridge.* As a result, we had wi-fi all over the boat and could use multiple computers.* We used this extensively for Skype.* Even though you are not looking for phone service, it's nice to have unlimited phone service for pennies once you are connected.

We also used the antenna to tap into various open wi-fi networks along the way.* Most of these were harbor systems that were independent.* The antenna was much better that just using the PC.

cheers


-- Edited by Penny Lane on Thursday 25th of August 2011 07:16:34 PM
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:50 PM   #7
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Even with Telus access you are not going to have very much in the way of coverage north of Vancouver Island. There is a small area around Bella Bella and again around Prince Rupert and the eastern Queen Charlotte area but other than those there is nothing north of the Port Hardy area.
By the looks of the various system coverage maps there is not much available up the southern Alaska coast either unless you are close to a major town.
I don't know what the answer is as we are very happy being "out of touch" when cruising up north and rely on the land-line service at coastal communities to contact home base for messages.
Welcome to "undeveloped Coastal BC" and lets hope it stays this way!
John Tones "MV Penta"
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:26 PM   #8
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Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

If you look at this link:

http://www.geckobeach.com/cellular/maps/

*

look at Marine coverage


It will show the different carriers in BC and who's towers cover what areas.

good luck


-- Edited by bshanafelt on Thursday 25th of August 2011 09:27:06 PM
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:24 PM   #9
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Thanks for the responses guys.* The Gecko site shows good coverage by Telus all the way to Bella Bella and then in Prince Rupert.* I'll look around for a Telus flash drive type adapter and maybe a pre-paid plan.

We used wifi on our first trip to Alaska in 2005 and each year since.* BBX is viable for Puget Sound and the Gulf Islands but they don't have northern service in BC beyond Port McNeil.* Open (unsecured) wifi is getting harder to find going north thus the quest for a 3G or 4G data plan.

Good tips all.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:52 PM   #10
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Steppen - despite what the Geco site shows the coverage from the Bella Bella (Telus) site is NO where near that wide. I was in the area last year doing surveys for a pending extension to the coastal 911 system and in most cases if you could not see the top of Denny Island you had no coverage. If you know the topography of the area the multitude of islands are all fairly high and cellular coverage must have "line of sight" to work.
As far as I can determine from industry contacts Telus has not improved the site in the last year and has no plans to do so. Lets face it there is not much of a population base outside of Bella Bella / Shearwater to base a business plan on.
The Prince Rupert "City Telephone' site in Prince Rupert has good coverage inland however the coverage over the water leaves a lot to be desired. Last time I was at the Prince Rupert Airport (Digby Island) the coverage was spotty if you were inside or on the west side of a building so I don't think it goes very far "to sea".
Not trying to be negative but rather I just want people to know that our coast is vast and little populated leaving little cause for the network suppliers to expand their systems further afield.

Good luck
John
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:04 PM   #11
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Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

Step

Also if you do go with the Telus USB thumbdrive, buy a 10' or 12' USB 2.0 Extension cable. *Such as a Belkin*F3U153-10 or similar brand. Just make sure it has the full size male/female*USB ends on it, *Plug the thumbdrive into the cables female end and set it outside the boat cabin*(but not in the rain!)*as high and clear of objects as possible. Plug the male end into your PC's USB port. *It will extend your range considerably in fringe areas.. (but it wont create signal where none exists.)

Also it's a lot easier to see and use your laptop in the cabin than sitting in the sunlight on the deck squinting at an LCD screen.*

Good luck and happy boating

Larry B*


-- Edited by Edelweiss on Thursday 25th of August 2011 11:39:20 PM
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Old 08-26-2011, 05:52 PM   #12
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RE: Cellular Internet Access in British Columbia

We haven't travelled past the top end of Vancouver Isl. but know that once you are away from major centres such as Port McNeil that cell phone coverage is at best a fluke.
There are no antennas where there are no major centres and those are far apart. Between islands no service at all. Past Vacnouver Isl will be even more so no matter what the internet says.

All the marinas that are away from major centres use a satellite dish setup to get their tel. use.

Enjoy your trip.
Clark
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