Marine

Marine Satellite Internet

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Which internet option is best for boating?

Communication on the water has never been better, especially when you're looking for marine Internet solutions. There are more options than ever before to keep you connected to your family, friends, and workplace on the water. There isn't one single best internet option for boaters. It depends on where you're going, how much data you want, and how much you want to spend. Some options will cost a few hundred euro, while others can set you back more than €35,000.

 

Marine internet options

There are three different methods for connecting to the Internet while spending time on the water: Public and private wi-fi access, cellular data, and satellite internet solutions.

  • At the marina or dock

Most marinas offer Wi-Fi access for their guests. If you're close to a dock or marina, you should be able to get a connection if you have a high quality Wi-Fi amplifier. Using a booster or amplifier to get signal access works well because boat materials can often deflect cellular signals.

  • In European waterways

Near the ocean shoreline and on lakes and rivers, you can regularly get a cellular signal if you strengthen it with a booster. Since this is a cellular service, the results can be somewhat hit or miss. Some of the equipment we offer can boost cellular data signals up to 20 miles offshore.

  • In the open water

Once you leave the shore and head out into international waters, your choices are limited to using a satellite phone, a wireless satellite internet hot-spot, or a satellite internet antenna for a reliable data connection.

 

WHY MARINE SATELLITE INTERNET?

When traveling by boat a satellite internet connection is the best way to enable voice, messaging, SD and HD tv reception, web browsing, and downloading weather information.

One of the difficulties of accessing the internet on a boat is fiscal. But as satellite Internet becomes an increasingly popular option, there are more and more affordable options available. A second obstacle to getting Internet access on your boat is mobility. As your boat moves across the ocean, the satellite dish needs to adjust for the angled signals from the satellites. Thankfully, technology has advanced enough to provide you with a reliable satellite Internet connection where ever you go.

 

Best cellular options for boats

Using cellular data is the most affordable way for casual boaters to connect to the internet. With the right equipment you can extend a cell phone signal up to 20 miles away from land.

 

Best cellular internet setups for boats

The MobilSat cellular service is a good choice for cellular internet. It's an inclusive system extending cellular range up to 20 miles away from the coast. It's most effective for boaters who cruises the coast or on lakes and rivers. Like any cellular data service, it won't work everywhere, but it's also an affordable internet solution for marine use.

Obviously, cellular data won't be available if you travel too far from the coast. Even with a booster, your connection to the Internet will only be available when you're close to land and have a direct line-of-sight to cell phone towers. If you're out on the ocean, beyond the range where cellular coverage exists, you won't be able to use your phone. That's why it’s always a good idea to carry a satellite phone on board in case of crisis.

The biggest advantage cellular internet has for boaters is its low cost. Cellular equipment for data services are more cost effective than a satellite setup. An complete marine setup with a cellular modem, router, and a top of the line booster is less than €2,000.

Most cellular data plans aren't expensive. Cellular data is usually €5 or less per gigabyte (GB), while satellite data for marine vehicles can cost up to €300 per GB. It's obvious why most boaters use cellular as much as possible, whether they have a satellite internet connec­tion for deep sea excursions or not.

 

Best Wi-Fi boosters for boats

The cheapest way to get internet on a vessel is to use marina Wi-Fi. However, we all know that public wireless networks can be unreliable. Most marinas, docks, harbor, yacht clubs, and port facilities have a wireless network connection. A Wi-Fi booster can help extend access to any hotspot signal as long as possible.

 

Best boosters for marina Wi-Fi

Red-Port Halo – Long Distance Range WIFI Extender System

Top features:

Boosts Wi-Fi up to 7.2 miles

Moderate signal gain of up to 5 dB

With so much metal, glass, and wood in every marina, it's easy to see why Wi-Fi signals won't travel very far from their access point. The solution is often quite simple: amplify your Wi-Fi signal with a booster or amplifier. The best Wi-Fi booster Europa Satellite has available is the Red-Port Halo Long Range WIFI Extender.

 

Best satellite internet and phone for boats

If you're far away from the coast and out-of-range of cell phone towers, satellite is your best option. You'll need to install a satellite hotspot or an antenna to get internet access on the open water. World wide marine satellite internet services are available through VSAT Internet services, Iridium, InMARSAT, Thuraya, and other carriers.

 

WHICH MARITIME INTERNET TERMINAL SHOULD I BUY?

As maritime satellite Internet grows, so too does the number of options available to you when purchasing a satellite system for your boat.

Intellian has many products working on the reliable Iridium's satellite network, with Ku-Band, Ka-Band, and Ku-Ka Band convertible satellites. These products incorporate live network testing for optimum performance, built-in spectrum analyzer, ACU with a two-line display, open platform system architecture, and Gyro-free satellite search capability.

The Cobham Sailor Fleet has multiple compact options that allow for broadband internet/intranet, email, and secure VPN over Inmarsat's state of the art network. It also allows for voice calling and data usage, with speeds up to 432 kbps for use with custom IP applications and VPNs.

FleetBroadband Satellite systems are an excellent choice for commercial marine, fishing, and medium sized leisure vessels with a satellite connection via the Inmarsat network. This service offers many adjustable options such as Forced Dialing, Restricted Dialing, Call Prioritization, Remote Access, a Multilingual WebConsole, Time/Volume limited data sessions, MAC filtering, PPPoE, and Firewalls. With speeds up to 150kbps so you can get full-colour weather images, navigational charts, and maintenance information.

 

A final look

When close to shore, acessing cellular internet on a boat is relatively easy and can significantly enhance your sailing experience. It's an affordable option for streaming music and checking email. You can also access many of the free Wi-Fi zones at marinas and harbors as long as you have the proper equipment.

For those brave souls who venture into the deep ocean, we recommend a satellite telephone or at the least a mobile hot-spot device. Even if only used for navigation and emergencies, satellite connectivity is the best option to stay connected in the most remote locations. 

 

Questions

How do I get the best signal from a Wi-Fi hotspot in the marina?

A booster will help you make good use of spotty Wi-fi at a marina. Most marinas offer free Wi-Fi connections. But the quality of Wi-Fi at marinas varies. Most of the difficulties with marina Wi-Fi comes down to high traffic, bad network design, interference from metal and glass, and poor technical support. You may need to look around the dock to get a decent signal.

If you're needing to use marina Wi-Fi for anything but than the most casual of social media browsing, or if you need access on many devices, you'll need to equip your boat with the appropriate equipment.

 

How much does satellite internet for boats cost?

Satellite internet for boats can cost as much as €200 per GB of data, which is much more expensive than land data. Equipment costs will be several thousand euros as well, depending on your setup.

The most affordable satellite internet available for boaters is a low bandwidth satellite phone communicator with GPS, map, and texting capabilities, such as the Garmin inReach Explorer+ You'll also need a 6-month Iridium talk and text satellite plan.

 

Can I get online on a boat using a cellular data plan and a hotspot?

You can, purchasing a mobile hot-spot and having a cell data-only (or phone plan with a generous allowance for data) is a great way of connecting on lakes and rivers.

Boaters who are planning on using cellular data will need a cell phone amplifier to extend their coverage. Even with a boosteror amplifier, your signal may be spotty as your boat cruises along the coast.

For many casual boating enthusiasts, cellular service from any European wireless carrier will be the fastest and least expensive way to get internet on your boat. Cell signals don't travel very far, so don't expect consistent cell coverage while traveling by boat.

 

How much data do I need on a boat?

On a boat, internet usage will vary by user. It will depend on how heavily people rely on the internet and whether they're using it for work or pleasure. Tasks like basic navigation and text messages use very little bandwidth, whereas streaming will use a lot of bandwidth.

Some cruisers disconnect from the internet while out to sea and use their devices only for GPS and emergency calls. These boaters connect with family and friends while docked at marinas and using less than 1 GB per week at sea. Working remotely during sea travel or are using the internet for recreation on a luxury yacht will end up using much more data.

 

Can I Watch Netflix Onboard A Boat?

According to Netflix, watching an hour-long, full-length TV series like the Squid Game uses up about 1 GB of data. If you're streaming in SD (standard definition). If you change your streaming settings to use high definition, it will use close to 4 GB per hour. If you're going to watch in 4K and higher resolutions, you'll be looking at 8 GB per hour, which will eat through your data and cost quiet a bit of money. Over-the-top video platforms (OTT) and video on demand services (VOD) like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Roku and Samsung TV Plus will have options for setting playback resolution. Often this feature defaults to an “automatic” setting which can actually have you streaming in 4K if you're not carefully. We suggest always setting video to SD while boating. On a phone or tablet, the visual difference between the two versions may not be noticeable.

 

What Wifi Speed Do I Need?

It depends entirely on which services you want to use the internet for. Think about how you and your guests might use it.

Skype: 100kbps

Facebook: 500kpbs

Streaming video: 1.5mbps

Streaming HD video: 5.0+mbps

 

How Boat WiFi Systems and Cell Internet Setup Will Be

If you're near a hotspot or the beach, you can get good internet connectivity by using WiFi or cellular service. But once you're out of the hot spot area, and when you venture 14 kms or more from land, your only option for Internet is a satellite connection.

Satellite Internet dishes and services are reliable and available pretty much everywhere, but they come with a hefty price. If you seldom venture away from the shoreline, WiFi or cellular internet solutions will be sufficient for your needs, but if you'd like to stay connected while traveling significant distances offshore, then satellite is the only option.

The satellite antenna will cost no less than €1,500, and can go up to €50,000. Monthly costs can be very expensive as well. Premium boating internet connectivity comes at price. If you want to know more about marine satellite options and to get an idea of the costs involved, please feel free to contact our team and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. We would be glad to assist you.

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