T&T: Mobile WiFi

Steve Sipe lists at maerin.net
Fri Jul 5 08:01:58 EDT 2019


I'm with you on the marina wifi, but I'd have to disagree that most are 
not secure, they're just poor. Many marina wifi setups use single point 
connections that are attempting to handle too many clients demanding too 
much bandwidth, mostly using 2.4Ghz signal, and a lot of those clients 
are using boosters that are creating a noisy environment. It's further 
complicated by the inherent environment of the marina with so much metal 
sticking up in the air to obstruct a clear signal. Getting wifi into a 
boat is an uphill battle. OnSpot is one exception. It works. Having a 
5Ghz radio will immensely improve throughput, and that's what counts. 
Yes, I can get a great 2.4G signal, but it's limited in bandwidth, so 
even though the signal is good, I still get a lousy "connection". 5G is 
far better at connecting multiple clients and reducing noise, but it has 
a shorter range. That's actually a benefit since it limits connection 
from marginal signal. But typically 5-10 times the throughput. I'll see 
20-30 mb/s on a 5G wifi compared to single digits or less on a 2.4G 
connection. Most marina wifi is essentially useless except as a 
marketing tool.

We use a combination of a Pepwave surflink SOHO router with a Mikrotik 
dual wifi radio (2.4/5Ghz), and a 4G modem that connects to Verizon 
LTE.  This gives us the option to use any marina wifi, has the advantage 
of 5G which is a huge improvement, and the 4G LTE provides internet most 
any other time wifi isn't available. I also use an external antenna for 
wifi as well as cellular, and a cellular amplifier. The cellular amp is 
a Wilson Sleek 3g/4g cradle type. Although it requires placing the cell 
phone or 4G/LTE modem in the cradle, it is effective. I have read too 
many reports of problems with the automotive repeater type amps to want 
to attempt it.  The cellular amp is very effective, it typically makes 
the difference between connecting vs. "no signal". I have gone through 
three of the Ubiquiti Bullet radios, they seem to last about 18 months. 
My setup locates the Bullet inside, I have a cabled connection to the 
wifi antenna, but direct connection is superior. The Mikrotik radio can 
be more complicated to set up, but far more versatile. Island Time PC 
has a pre-set system that's good, but doesn't have AFAIK the 3G/4G 
option.  Pepwave also offers a Surf on the Go router that's wireless 
only, e.g. no ethernet ports for wired LAN. It doesn't do 5G wifi, so it 
has some limitations in that regard, thus it is about end of life. But 
it will use a 4G/LTE USB modem and create a hotspot on board. I got one 
for a boat neighbor and it does a great job.

The USB modem (aka mifi) is effective, but if you can include a cellular 
amp, you'll improve your connection capability. In the Bahamas, we used 
the cellular amp to great advantage. Even in the Exumas there was LTE in 
most locations. If you can get within 5 miles of a tower, you can 
generally get LTE coverage.

It's a jungle trying to navigate the options of on board internet. Carry 
a machete. <G>
Steve Sipe
Solo 4303 /Maerin/

On 7/5/2019 7:09 AM, Steve Bedford via Trawlers-and-Trawlering wrote:
> Thanks to all so far for the responses on a mobile WiFi device.  Excellent information.
> We are not looking to boost a marina wifi signal because that wifi is still probably not secure.  We are looking more to the “hot spot” arrangement.  We have ATT service on our iPhones.  Sounds like there might be more options via Verizon.
> There appear to be devices that might be more powerful than using the cell phone to create the hot spot.  Have you found that to be true?
> Steve
> ----------------
> Steve Bedford
> maxmarineproducts.com
> Home of the Super MAX Anchor
> M/V No Regrets II, Legacy 42
> Burgess, Virginia

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