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Old 08-02-2013, 02:46 PM   #1
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Options for wifi/mfi- San Juans and north to the Broughtons

Just wondering- what options are available when traveling north from the San Juans to Desolation Sound??
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Old 08-02-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
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I have a Bell hotspot USB Stick that I got from a friend in Vancouver. It works great anywhere you can get a signal, including Telus.

If you can't get one of these, a 2nd option is beaconwifi.com, formerly BBX. It works good, but isn't available in Desolation Sound itself. It's only available at marinas, and I think the most northern marinas that have it are Pender Harbor and Campbell River. Check their website for locations.

There may be others, but I'm not familiar with them.

I'm headed there next week myself!
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:32 AM   #3
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Hi Peter,

My choice for our trip through BC to AK this summer was to go with Verizon MiFi. IF you go this route, my suggestion is you selected an international data plan, and ACTIVATE IT before you cross the Canadian border. Otherwise, the roaming and data charges will bring you to your knees while in Canada. Judicious use of data, such as Environmental Canada for weather, and minimal web searching for phone numbers as needed while in Canada, let us get by with $25/100Mb of data without breaking the bank. No downloads of video's to a smart phone, no uploads of huge picture files to/from friends via facebook, no perusing various blog sites while underway, and use of the WWW essentially restricted to text emails as necessary.

But coverage was fairly good throughout Desolation Sound and the Broughtons, especially when near major metro areas such as Nanaimo, Campbell River, Port McNeill, etc. FYI, nothingfurther north than Port Hardy until Prince Rupert, however. Tiny bit in Shearwater, but despite Verizon's claim of coverage in that area, throughput was lousy.

IMHO, RUN, don't walk, away from anything associated with BBX. Tried it for years, and finally gave up, even in my home port of Everett. Simply a POS, even with direct line of sight to the marina transmit antenna, about 1/4 mile away.

Some marinas in the vicinity of Vancouver Island have subscription WiFi, but it's usually VERY slow, and spendy for what you get. There are a few "free" WiFi hot spots around, but they are again in major metro areas, and you usually have to hike around to find them.

Hope this helps.

Pete
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jungpeter View Post
Hi Peter,

My choice for our trip through BC to AK this summer was to go with Verizon MiFi. IF you go this route, my suggestion is you selected an international data plan, and ACTIVATE IT before you cross the Canadian border. Otherwise, the roaming and data charges will bring you to your knees while in Canada. Judicious use of data, such as Environmental Canada for weather, and minimal web searching for phone numbers as needed while in Canada, let us get by with $25/100Mb of data without breaking the bank. No downloads of video's to a smart phone, no uploads of huge picture files to/from friends via facebook, no perusing various blog sites while underway, and use of the WWW essentially restricted to text emails as necessary.

But coverage was fairly good throughout Desolation Sound and the Broughtons, especially when near major metro areas such as Nanaimo, Campbell River, Port McNeill, etc. FYI, nothingfurther north than Port Hardy until Prince Rupert, however. Tiny bit in Shearwater, but despite Verizon's claim of coverage in that area, throughput was lousy.

IMHO, RUN, don't walk, away from anything associated with BBX. Tried it for years, and finally gave up, even in my home port of Everett. Simply a POS, even with direct line of sight to the marina transmit antenna, about 1/4 mile away.

Some marinas in the vicinity of Vancouver Island have subscription WiFi, but it's usually VERY slow, and spendy for what you get. There are a few "free" WiFi hot spots around, but they are again in major metro areas, and you usually have to hike around to find them.

Hope this helps.

Pete
This is exactly the info I am looking for. I'm on AT&T, and the better half is on Verizon. We're going to look at at MiFi today, and also explore the option of using her iPhone as a hotspot.

Mucho Gracias, Pete!
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:39 PM   #5
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Option #79.

Leave all your non boating electronic stuff at home and have a real vacation.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:08 PM   #6
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A few comments. I am in the software business, and I (sadly) have to keep connected when I am out on the boat.

1) WiFi and BBX: I have actually had pretty good luck with BBX in the Gulf Islands. Also, there are a fair number of locations that have other WiFi services. I had a three-year-old TP-Link high-powered wireless card, but next year I think I will get a really good WiFi adapter and mount it up on the mast for maximum range. Probably a Rogue: Rogue Wave | Wave Wifi, the #1 Name in Marine Wifi, Yacht Wifi, Marina Wifi & Wireless Internet

The other thing you should do is to understand how Internet Connection Sharing works. With ICS, you can take your BBX or other WiFi connection and then share it with other users on your boat. What I do is use my dedicated nav computer for the WiFi connection and then share that to a regular WiFi router, then all of the other laptops/iPods/iPads etc. on boat have a connection.

WiFi has the great advantage that in most cases there are no bandwidth charges. In other words, you can upload and download all you want. The big downside is that the range is limited to about a mile at the absolute max, and also all of the users are sharing the same connection at the base station.

2) Cellular: I've been using cellular data connections onboard for about 7 years now. This started with Edge (about 1 megabit/second), then 3G (5 meg) and finally LTE (20 meg). These are really great solutions, because they have a much longer range (10 or 20 miles from the tower). You really have three choices: you can use your phone, you can use a card in your computer, or you can use a simple device that connects to the cell networks and then rebroadcasts on WiFi (this is what the MiFi is). I've used all three. I use a MiFi device now because it's the easiest to use.

The major problem with cell data is cost. First, all of the data plans cost real money, and the bandwidth caps are pretty low. However, here's a hint: most of the data-only plans are pay-as-you-go, and many have a "teaser" rate for the first month or two. A few years ago I signed up with Telus for the summer and got unlimited data for two months, which covered my whole summer.

Now, last but not least, roaming. Leaving the country is EXPENSIVE!!!! Trust me, I travel between the US and Canada for business. If you are doing anything but the shortest of trips, BY FAR the best solution is to buy a device and sign up for a plan in both countries. For you US citizens, buy a Telus wireless stick and sign up for a Telus plan. It's by far the best option.

Scott Welch
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:24 PM   #7
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BBX has improved dramatically since Beacon took over.
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