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Old 10-20-2016, 10:31 PM   #21
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"stuck at the office"?

Why not open the door and walk out?

I have my own addiction ... my car .. or cars. I'm like Wifey B w/o internet when I'm carless. Sorta ... only sorta because I go out in the boat for a week and actually don't miss it. That's close to being true. Maybe the boat is a vehicle substitute. However when the car is there I'm ready to go almost always.

I remember when I went out to Western Alaska in 1959 to work on a gold dredge. No phones, no car, basically nothing but working 12 hours a day .. for $1.67 hr. Basically life as I knew it disapeared when I went up there for seven months. And But I think changes in life are good for us. New things, new people and new life structure. Everything is stimulating. In my experience mostly positive even from 4 years in the Navy. Haha I sound like I'm talking myself into becoming a computer and vouge device nerd. Nawwww
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:05 AM   #22
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Detailed weather forecasting from the internet is enough reason to want it onboard.The deep sided valleys where we boat make cell phone reception hit and miss, I`m often on the FB, arm aloft, trying to get signal.
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:19 AM   #23
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Pete

Define what you mean by "boonies"

Where we go, here is no cell service whatsoever, so that is "boonies". To get internet there you will need satellite service. Everywhere else, you will need to pack along your coverage map to know how far you can travel tomorrow, so as to remain within the coverage of your cell provider, or roaming partner.
This is the coverage map currently promoted by Telus: Coverage map | 4G HSPA & LTE network in Canada | Mobility | TELUS.com

I can tell you that it is not accurate near the edges of the areas of coverage in Desolation sound. For example, in Waddington channel, there is simply no coverage until you can actually see the towers at Sarah Point, though the map shows coverage extending almost to the entrance to Pendrell sound.

On a broader scale, should you go around Cape Caution, you will find little coverage and will be without cell coverage for days at a time, if not weeks.
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:33 AM   #24
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Internet in the boonies

I was astounded how well t-mobile worked n BC this summer. Really fast, often coverage and speed bested my Verizon phone, and with unlimited usage we even watched Netflix on it at night at anchor.
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Old 10-21-2016, 06:27 AM   #25
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For us, this is not "vacation." It is our normal, everyday, working life.
We are long retired so our working life (paid at least) is long over. But we don't boat to go on vacation, it is part of our life, just as when we take an AirBNB apartment in Europe or San Francisco. We are not kids with a cell phone in our hands while we are having dinner, but the internet connection allows us continue our daily life wherever we are. That continuation is important.
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Old 10-21-2016, 08:46 AM   #26
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Pete

Define what you mean by "boonies"
Good point.

North of Vancouver Island cell coverage is meager at best, and in some areas there isn't even radio reception.
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Old 10-21-2016, 09:14 AM   #27
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we don't boat to go on vacation, it is part of our life, .
Very good point. We don't boat a weekend here and a weekend there. We're out cruising 2/3 of the year, so it's a normal part of our life.
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:43 PM   #28
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Hi All. Some additional comments from the originator of this thread (me!).

NOMAD WILLY (Hi Eric): I have no interest in dictating to, or influencing anyone else how, when, where, or why to use the WWW while recreating (or working) while in the PNW. That's their (and your) business alone. Some of us need access to the WWW, some us us want access to the WWW, some of us could care less. Not my point IN THE SLIGHTEST with my original posting. Can you see thread creep here?

TFMKEVIN: I read your blog in Sloboat "WiFi in the Wilderness". Thanks for that. However, I think the issue for me is not amplifying a WiFi signal, but rather reliably and robustly receiving a cellular connection to enable generation of the WiFi in the first place. I don't think the Max Marine router you discuss in your article fulfills that purpose for me, given that the function of the router to demodulate the cellular signal is redundant to my (and most others) ubiquitous cell phones of various brands and technologies. Most of which provide an internal hotspot to boot. The viability of a cellular booster, on the other hand, may well be a topic for a further thread.

And thanks for your opinion regarding the viability of Verizon and T-Mobile as data partners with Telus, Rogers, et al within BC. It's very probable that my connectivity issues with Verizon relate to the old-tech (good grief, it's 5 years old...) of my IPhone 4 (not IPhone 3 as previously posted) that can only connect via 3G technology. 3G seems to work fine with high signal strength. Not so fine when the local providers broadcast 4G/LTE, and these signals are received at reduced signal strengths due to geography.

And thanks also for the tip that using a local provider directly (i.e. via a Telus SIM when in BC) may or may not be possible without a local BC address. Seems unlikely, but I haven't followed up on yet with Telus.

KOLIVER: Thought I did define "my boonies". North end of Vancouver Island throughout SEAK.

DHAYS: Not wanting to turn this thread into a Verizon rant, or once again promote thread creep, I'm going to turn away from any discussion of what Verizon offers with their $2/day international data package, and with what they actually deliver. Suffice it to say, ain't the same. Ditto their egregious data surcharges if you actually USE Verizon data via one's cell phone.

And to all that remind me there is simply no cellular coverage in many parts of the PNW, and that satellite service is a prerequisite for "staying connected 24/7" in those parts of "my boonies", yup, I get that. Again, a subject for maybe another thread.

THanks again for all your inputs.

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Old 10-21-2016, 12:55 PM   #29
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OK Peter,
I'm through pulling their chain. You're right.
Seems a bit like a vouge fad of some sort.
Here I am at Starbucks and I really need that right?
I'm into it too actually .. (The internet of course) but only a tad.

You sold the CC as I recall. Are you still in Everett and having a boat there?
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:58 PM   #30
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TFMKEVIN: I read your blog in Sloboat "WiFi in the Wilderness". Thanks for that. However, I think the issue for me is not amplifying a WiFi signal, but rather reliably and robustly receiving a cellular connection to enable generation of the WiFi in the first place. I don't think the Max Marine router you discuss in your article fulfills that purpose for me, given that the function of the router to demodulate the cellular signal is redundant to my (and most others) ubiquitous cell phones of various brands and technologies. Most of which provide an internal hotspot to boot. The viability of a cellular booster, on the other hand, may well be a topic for a further thread.
Hi Peter,
The advantage of the solution we use (Max Marine) in making cellular data connections is pretty substantial. The radios in the router are superior to the radios in a typical cell phone. The use of an external diversity antenna to reach cell towers gives significant advantages, and adding a wired booster in that signal chain helps even more.

The ability to connect to more than one provider with the use of multiple SIM cards in the router expands that advantage, as cell phones and small portable routers are generally tied to a single cellular network.

The net result for us in SE Alaska and BC was that many times our router was able to connect to cellular data signals when our phones showed "no signal". We actually had data service for the majority of Grenville Channel, for example, and in most parts of Desolation Sound - even though our phones did not have service (but we could get data on our phones by connecting via WiFi to our Max Marine router).
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Old 10-21-2016, 01:09 PM   #31
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Hi Peter,
The advantage of the solution we use (Max Marine) in making cellular data connections is pretty substantial. The radios in the router are superior to the radios in a typical cell phone. The use of an external diversity antenna to reach cell towers gives significant advantages, and adding a wired booster in that signal chain helps even more.

The ability to connect to more than one provider with the use of multiple SIM cards in the router expands that advantage, as cell phones and small portable routers are generally tied to a single cellular network.

The net result for us in SE Alaska and BC was that many times our router was able to connect to cellular data signals when our phones showed "no signal". We actually had data service for the majority of Grenville Channel, for example, and in most parts of Desolation Sound - even though our phones did not have service (but we could get data on our phones by connecting via WiFi to our Max Marine router).
Cell phones are limited in power. That's why boosters and the solution he talks about helps. For years, we had a booster supplied free for our home by our cell phone provider. We picked up zero bars on the phones. With the booster, no different than many boosters available, we were always at 5 bars.

To the OP, I'm not saying his solution will definitely work for you. However, I'm saying not to dismiss the thought that it might. It has the added ability to pick up signals and the ability to have multiple sims.
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Old 10-21-2016, 01:32 PM   #32
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The advantage of the solution we use (Max Marine) in making cellular data connections is pretty substantial. The radios in the router are superior to the radios in a typical cell phone. The use of an external diversity antenna to reach cell towers gives significant advantages, and adding a wired booster in that signal chain helps even more.
Although not addressing the Max Marine radio specifically, this is correct and cell phones SHOULD NOT be used for hotspots. In designing a cell phone, battery time is critical and compromises are made to the radios to prolong battery life and to reduce the weight of the phone. MiFI solutions are usually not burdened with these issues and ours is always plugged into a 115v outlet. All our internet at our dirt home is via a MiFi device and it receives better and faster than our iPhone 6s and iPad Airs. You really should pay attention to what tfmkevin is saying. You may need a newer phone but as a hotspot, it will disappoint.
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Old 10-21-2016, 01:55 PM   #33
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Although not addressing the Max Marine radio specifically, this is correct and cell phones SHOULD NOT be used for hotspots. In designing a cell phone, battery time is critical and compromises are made to the radios to prolong battery life and to reduce the weight of the phone. MiFI solutions are usually not burdened with these issues and ours is always plugged into a 115v outlet. All our internet at our dirt home is via a MiFi device and it receives better and faster than our iPhone 6s and iPad Airs. You really should pay attention to what tfmkevin is saying. You may need a newer phone but as a hotspot, it will disappoint.
I have used my phone as a hotspot for years. It has worked very well BUT, I only use it as a hotspot when there are not other options. At home for example, I use our own wifi. On the boat I will use the phone as a hotspot if there isn't wifi available from another source such as a marina. I would never chose to use the phone as my sole wifi source, but when it is the only option I have found it works well.
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Old 10-21-2016, 03:43 PM   #34
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I have used my phone as a hotspot for years. It has worked very well BUT, I only use it as a hotspot when there are not other options. At home for example, I use our own wifi. On the boat I will use the phone as a hotspot if there isn't wifi available from another source such as a marina. I would never chose to use the phone as my sole wifi source, but when it is the only option I have found it works well.
The primary thing a phone as a wifi hotspot will not be good at is range (distance from the tower where you can have data service).

A phone broadcasts with very low power and has a tiny antenna. My router uses diversity antennas (2 of them) and each antenna is larger than an entire cell phone. And, they're mounted in an enclosure at the top of the mast. Then, inside the boat there is a wired signal amplifier boosting the antenna signal to the router. The net result is MUCH longer range - therefore expanded coverage in the areas we're talking about.
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Old 10-21-2016, 08:08 PM   #35
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Hi Kevin,

OK, I'm starting to come out of the fog. I THINK what you are saying is, the multi-mode antenna provided by Max Marine (for instance-there's LOTS of WiFi booster on the market) receives LTE (4G) cellular signals from whomever your local provider is has increased gain over a typical cell phone. This part of communications physics extends effective cellular data range in itself. Roger, roger. I am in full agreement with that part of the logic.

The Max Marine system includes a downstream signal amplifier for this LTE data. So now, the received LTE signal is amplified (obviously done within a typical cell phone as well) and then passed to the Max Marine router, which purports to have a superior radio (i.e.-more sensitivity) than cellphones. The router then creates a virtual "hotspot" (converts the LTE data into a WiFi signal), and re-transmits this WiFi throughout your boat. All this technology comes with a cost (about $1300, I think). And now I'm still left with my cellphone, now sitting useless in my pocket. I believe you agree that WiFi boosters DO NOT extend effective voice range of our cellphones, so are of little value should one need voice as well as data out in the sticks.

OK, so how does this differ from using a cellular booster (like this Wilson weBoost 470103 Connect 4G Cell Phone Booster) for ~$600 to amplify the incoming LTE data to my cellphone, which can then generate a hotspot strong enough to provide useful WiFi data to whatever device I desire to use for WWW connectivity on my boat, and voice as well?

I get that the radio in something like the Max Marine router may well be superior to (have better sensitivity) than that in my smartphone, but that is NOT a virtue that is emphasized in ANY WiFi booster system I'm familiar with. And I seriously doubt Max Marine builds their OWN radios (at the chip level, at least), probably using open-source processors, chip sets, and operating systems similar to other cellular manufacturers. A "better" radio than Apple's (for instance)? I'm still a doubter. Show me some vetted test results to back THIS claim.

I also get the multi-SIM advantage of that particular router, but that's simply a bell and whistle to me. I know when I'm crossing an international border, and (assuming I understand and are hooked up with the "provider de jour" in-country) can change SIM cards in a heartbeat, or take advantage of international plans on my home-town cellular provider when roaming OCONUS.

No argument that if one is within range of an open WiFi network (like free marina WiFi, for instance), that a WiFi booster can improve data throughput as a side-benefit to this technology. Again, another bell and whistle for me.

I'm (obviously) NOT very knowledgeable regarding cellular and/or WiFi technology, as I'm not a telecommunications engineer. But I'm trainable! I'm somewhat frustrated in trying to find a "communications broker" that can assess my particular situation, and recommend non-partisan hardware and software solutions to me. Your (and everyone else's as well) efforts to do so are much appreciated, and please don't construe my comments here as derogatory or argumentative in the slightest. Communicating in the English language is hard for me, especially when it's coming from MTF (my two fingers). And I believe honest, sincere, and polite discourse is healthy. But then I'm not a politician...

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Old 10-21-2016, 09:31 PM   #36
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I think there are basically three considerations/factors to getting good cellular data on your boat.

1) Ability to use different carriers so you can pick the best one for the region. This gives you flexibility to deal with roaming costs, and who has the best coverage in different areas. You can swap SIMs in a phone, swap SIMs in USB modems, swap SIMs in mifi devices, or swap SIMs in boxes like the Max Marine, Cradlepoint, Peplink, or others.

2) Strongest cellular signal for best receptions. Something with an external antenna will be better. Boosters are an option, but need to cover all the bands that you will encounter, and it can be tricky to figure out what all of them will be. Cell phones are probably the weakest, dedicated cellular modems (USB devices, mifi, and cellular "routers") are probably next, and anything with an antenna best.

3) Linkage between data service and phone service. If you are swapping SIM cards in your phone, then your phone number will be changing all the time. For many people this is a problem since they want to remain reachable via their usual cell number. If you want to keep your cell number, you probably need to use a dedicated data modem.

With all that, there are lots of ways to solve the problem. So far I don't think anyone has mentioned something like a Cradlepoint or Peplink router. The Max Marine device sound similar, but I'm not familiar with it. The Peplink and Cradlepoint are available with build-in 4G/LTE modems, or with multiple USB ports where you can plug in a USB modem. It's a convenient way to manage multiple carriers with multiple USB modems, or just swapped out SIMs, and to make the resulting internet service available throughout your boat via wired and wireless connections.

Speaking of SIMs, maybe it's just me, but I've had little to no luck moving SIMs between different USB modems. In theory it's supposed to just work, but I have yet to see that happen. I have a Telus USB modem, a Verison USB modem, and an ATT mifi device, but none of the SIMs will work in any of the devices other than the one it come in. And supposedly all the devices are unlocked. I finally gave up and just use whichever device has the service I want/need.
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Old 10-22-2016, 04:49 PM   #37
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Hi Kevin,

OK, I'm starting to come out of the fog. I THINK what you are saying is, the multi-mode antenna provided by Max Marine (for instance-there's LOTS of WiFi booster on the market) receives LTE (4G) cellular signals from whomever your local provider is has increased gain over a typical cell phone. This part of communications physics extends effective cellular data range in itself. Roger, roger. I am in full agreement with that part of the logic.

The Max Marine system includes a downstream signal amplifier for this LTE data. So now, the received LTE signal is amplified (obviously done within a typical cell phone as well) and then passed to the Max Marine router, which purports to have a superior radio (i.e.-more sensitivity) than cellphones. The router then creates a virtual "hotspot" (converts the LTE data into a WiFi signal), and re-transmits this WiFi throughout your boat. All this technology comes with a cost (about $1300, I think). And now I'm still left with my cellphone, now sitting useless in my pocket. I believe you agree that WiFi boosters DO NOT extend effective voice range of our cellphones, so are of little value should one need voice as well as data out in the sticks.

OK, so how does this differ from using a cellular booster (like this Wilson weBoost 470103 Connect 4G Cell Phone Booster) for ~$600 to amplify the incoming LTE data to my cellphone, which can then generate a hotspot strong enough to provide useful WiFi data to whatever device I desire to use for WWW connectivity on my boat, and voice as well?

I get that the radio in something like the Max Marine router may well be superior to (have better sensitivity) than that in my smartphone, but that is NOT a virtue that is emphasized in ANY WiFi booster system I'm familiar with. And I seriously doubt Max Marine builds their OWN radios (at the chip level, at least), probably using open-source processors, chip sets, and operating systems similar to other cellular manufacturers. A "better" radio than Apple's (for instance)? I'm still a doubter. Show me some vetted test results to back THIS claim.

I also get the multi-SIM advantage of that particular router, but that's simply a bell and whistle to me. I know when I'm crossing an international border, and (assuming I understand and are hooked up with the "provider de jour" in-country) can change SIM cards in a heartbeat, or take advantage of international plans on my home-town cellular provider when roaming OCONUS.

No argument that if one is within range of an open WiFi network (like free marina WiFi, for instance), that a WiFi booster can improve data throughput as a side-benefit to this technology. Again, another bell and whistle for me.

I'm (obviously) NOT very knowledgeable regarding cellular and/or WiFi technology, as I'm not a telecommunications engineer. But I'm trainable! I'm somewhat frustrated in trying to find a "communications broker" that can assess my particular situation, and recommend non-partisan hardware and software solutions to me. Your (and everyone else's as well) efforts to do so are much appreciated, and please don't construe my comments here as derogatory or argumentative in the slightest. Communicating in the English language is hard for me, especially when it's coming from MTF (my two fingers). And I believe honest, sincere, and polite discourse is healthy. But then I'm not a politician...

Regards,

Pete
Hi Pete,

A few clarifications:
- A Max Marine system is not a "WiFi Booster". It has a feature that does this, but it is a "bonus" and not the main function of the device. It does offer some of the benefits of a WiFi booster (better performance when using marina WiFi), but this feature, called "WiFi as WAN" (using a WiFi network such as marina WiFi to connect to the internet) is just an extra, nice-to-have.

- Think of this as just a much more powerful cellular hotspot than your phone. It has its own SIM cards, its own radio, its own antennas and amplifiers, and makes its own WiFi network. It's doing exactly the same thing your phone is when you use your phone as a hotspot, only much, much better.

- Your phone does not become useless in this scenario. If your phone has no signal, you can still connect your phone to the router via WiFi and your phone will then have full data service - you'll be able to do everything except make phone calls.

- Comparing this with using a Wilson/WeBoost type cellular booster, and then using your phone as a hotspot based on that is a valid comparison. I'd say this has several advantages. First, most cellular boosters that are not hard-wired (where you actually hook up a cable to your cell phone that connects it to the booster and from there to the outside antenna). That means they use 2 antennas - an "outdoor" antenna that connects to the cell tower, and an "indoor" antenna that re-broadcasts the signal inside your boat. These 2 antennas tend to interfere with each other, so you need to place them a fair distance apart, and the power of each has to be limited to avoid interference. Generally, then, you need to have your phone very close to the "indoor" antenna to get good performance. And, at best they do not perform as well as having a wired connection from the outdoor antenna to the booster amplifier to the radio (as we have in our system), rather than relying on the indoor cellular repeater antenna. In our system, the booster amplifier part, I believe IS a Wilson amplifier - but a "direct connect/hard wired" type rather than the type with an indoor antenna.

- Reiterating some of what twistedtree says - swapping SIM cards in your cell phone does give you a different phone number every time. And, if you have multiple accounts you will sometimes have to fiddle around to see which one has signal now. Swap in a SIM card... wait a couple minutes... signal? nope. try a different SIM... wait... etc. With a router like we have the router does that automatically, picking (within the limitations of whatever priorities you have currently set) the one with the strongest signal at any given time.

- Also on what twistedtree says - PepWave and Cradlepoint also make routers that do exactly what the Max Marine does. Singlepoint (the company we got ours from) integrates pieces from several sources: routers from a company like one of those, antennas from some other source, booster amplifiers from another, cables and connectors, and even service plans. So, they're more of a "system integrator" that has tested all the parts together for marine use, and sells the whole thing as a solution. You could certainly build your own system with most of the same components, it just takes more fiddling and fussing to get it all playing nicely together.
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Old 10-22-2016, 06:35 PM   #38
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- Reiterating some of what twistedtree says - swapping SIM cards in your cell phone does give you a different phone number every time. And, if you have multiple accounts you will sometimes have to fiddle around to see which one has signal now. Swap in a SIM card... wait a couple minutes... signal? nope. try a different SIM... wait... etc. With a router like we have the router does that automatically, picking (within the limitations of whatever priorities you have currently set) the one with the strongest signal at any given time.
.
At the price of cell phones today, before I'd switch SIM cards constantly, I'd just have multiple phones. Far easier that way plus keep one as primary and when out of it's range forward calls to the one you are in range on.
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Old 05-09-2019, 05:21 PM   #39
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Resurrecting this older thread.


We are planning trip to Desolation Sound next month and one of my kids is taking an on-line course over the summer and will need internet service. Has anyone cruised the area recently and can verify if Verizon has coverage? We have a Cradlepoint for cell as well as a Wilson booster.


Our itinerary includes Prideaux, Octopus Islands, Dent Island and maybe Toba.


Appreciate the latest intel. Thanks
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Old 05-09-2019, 05:34 PM   #40
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Resurrecting this older thread.


We are planning trip to Desolation Sound next month and one of my kids is taking an on-line course over the summer and will need internet service. Has anyone cruised the area recently and can verify if Verizon has coverage? We have a Cradlepoint for cell as well as a Wilson booster.


Our itinerary includes Prideaux, Octopus Islands, Dent Island and maybe Toba.


Appreciate the latest intel. Thanks

I was last up there two summers ago. We have Verizon and once you round Sarah Pt. you can count on not having any usable bandwidth. Now, occasionally I could get internet service in Prideaux Haven and somtimes in Roscoe bay on a high tide, but nothing that you would want to count on for reliable internet service. I don't know if that has changed, but I seriously doubt it.
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