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How to Get Reliable Email and Internet?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by DOCKMASTER, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
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    Location:
    Ketchikan, Alaska
    I would like to get fairly reliable Internet service while out on my boat in remote areas of S.E. Alaska. Seems like toay's satellite technology should be able to help. I'm wondering what is the easiest and least expensive way to do this? An electronics shop sold me a Globe Surfer unit and an 8' antenna and said it would allow me to use my iPhone or iPad to get emails and Internet. Well, what I found is it doesn't get a signal any more than my phone or pad does by themselves. I have an 18" SeaTel Satellite already on the boat that I do not use. It was installed by previous owner for TV service when boat was in So. Calif. However, I'm told that an 18" satellite is too small to get a TV signal in Alaska. Can this antenna be used for Internet with better results? I have no desire for TV signal but would like to be able to have a WiFi signal onboard for me and guests to get email and Internet via phones and iPads. I've seen lots of ads for companies offering stuff but I'm wondering what really works and if this is possible without spending more than what the boat cost to do it?
    Any input or feedback on what others are using is appreciated. Of particular interest is feedback from folks that have cruised through S.E. Alaska and can report actual results. Thanks!
  2. Capt Bill11

    Capt Bill11 Senior Member

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    The only reliable way is with a SAT system. The systems themselves are not cheap nor is the service. You can set up a low monthly fee with a high cost/MB used charge. Or vice versa.

    Perhaps the cheapest system hardware wise would be a Track It TV system with a BGAN antenna on it.

    I do not believe the SAT TV antenna can be changed over to used for that purpose.

    As to just what size antenna you need, I'd ask KVH or SeaTel.
  3. Chevelle

    Chevelle New Member

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    Location:
    West Palm Beach
    Linkscape would be a company to look at. They are a one stop shop, similar to KVH. Great service, and I have delt with quite a few different setups that I would never call above mediocre.
  4. Capt Buddy

    Capt Buddy Member

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    I just returned from se alaska through desolation sound and back to seattle. I have a brand new mini vsat. It wasnt very fast north of desolation but very reliable!
  5. MSviking

    MSviking New Member

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    Location:
    OB Alabama
    It is not cheap, but I just installed a KVH V3ip, works extremely well for both internet at broadband speeds with phone quality right up there with a land line. I spent around $17K for installation and hardware. Telephone rates are $.49/min with data over 50mb @ $.99/mb, not cheap but a heck of a lot cheaper than traditional Inmarsat rates at $27/mb!
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Your telephone rates are much cheaper than US cell phone roaming fees. Internet rates appear to be reasonable as well considering. Also, I think our OP is in Alaska, the larger the dish the larger the coverage area. I would check with electronics guys in your area and see what dishes work and don't work.
  7. MSviking

    MSviking New Member

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    Location:
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    [​IMG]

    The KVH V3ip (smallest Vsat antenna) would appear to cover all of Alaska
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Keep in mind that with any satelite system you must have clear line of sight to the southern sky. The other day I was in a marina with a few saiboats. No TV. Pulled 100' off the dock and my TVs came on. I was even wondering if the manina might have had a jammer to block signals so they could sell cable service.

    We use a WiFi hot spot, but that requires being in cell range and probably wouldn't work for the OP in Alaska.
  9. travler

    travler Senior Member

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    Location:
    roche harbor wa
    I spend a lot of time in SE and so far I have not found a very reliable way to get service I have sat and both verizon and att for carriers for cell service we get very good service when we are in port butt traveling it is spotty at best you can get Alaska dispatch for sat phone service but it still has a lot of dead areas hope this helps let me know what you come up with

    travler
  10. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ketchikan, Alaska
    Thanks all. I really appreciate the advice and sharing your experience. I'll contact some more dealers to see if my SeaTel antenna can be used or converted.
    I have a hand held sat phone that works pretty well for calls so I'm really just looking for email and internet.
    Does anyone have recommendation for a dealer they have used or who to contact in the Seattle area? One problem I'm having is finding someone who really knows this stuff and isn't guessing at what might work or might not (at my risk of course).
  11. Jack Eisenbahn

    Jack Eisenbahn New Member

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    Jan 1, 2013
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    Location:
    SW France
    I can only agree with what was said above.

    I'll just add a few practical considerations: in *higher latitudes*, your dish will be pointing very close to horizontal (since the geo-stationary satellites are orbiting above the equator) and the slightest obstacle will block your link.
    The KVH MiniVsat systems have dishes that can go very close to horizontal.

    Places like Adak and Dutch however do not get a very reliable connection as the harbors themselves are surrounded by mountains to the South.

    Seeing the geographical configuration in e.g. Juneau, I'd be willing to bet that satellite connection would be spotty at best, even though the coverage map seems to indicate differently

    Luckily often WiFi is present as an alternative while in port, and the 3G network is still relatively accessible in most coastal cruising situations.

    BTW, that still happens even further south while cruising along the BC coast of Canada, in the Southern part of Queen Charlotte Sound and for most of the Georgia strait when you are close to the coastline.

    If you really need *99.9 % reliable* connection you'd need a system that cover both (and switches between) C-band and Ku-band (like Mini Vsat 11 IP) *and* have the system fitted with the optional Iridium connection.
    We're however talking about $75K minimun in HW cost.
    See : Satellite Phone & Satellite Internet from KVH Industries

    Iridium is a totally different system using an array of low-orbiting satellites, so that there is always a good chance to have a couple of them in your line of sight. It uses a similar connection principle to the GPS satellite network, hence offers a very broad coverage everywhere on the planet.
    Basically if you can satisfy yourself with reliable email (without "heavy" attachments) Iridium is an excellent fall back system.

    KVH support has an excellent reputation: I have a friend cruising in Vanuatu right now and they are helping him in "real time" solving some connectivity problems on his V7 system, and rush-shipping spare parts directly to Port Vila.

    Hope this helps...

    Cheers