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Do you make a Wifi hotspot? Do you use a dedicated one?

Oct 24, 2010
2,399
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
I ran into a couple this summer who raved about their wifi hotspot. It is a dedicated little box that provides them cellular-based wifi while onboard or where ever they bring it. We have just been using phone data. I'm wondering if having the hotspot device, or just buying a data plan for our Ipad (which has a cellular transceiver inside) would be more economical. (Our current plan charges $10 per gig) This Summer we found many times we wanted data but didn't use it because we had no wifi at the time. My question: What do you use. I see no need for a wifi extender for us, just some data.

The pick is from Blake Island.

Ken
 

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Likes: jssailem
May 17, 2004
3,483
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
I just use cellular for my phone, and I put it in hotspot mode to tether an iPad if needed. A bunch of tethering data is included in my plan anyway, which makes it cheaper and more convenient than having a separate device.
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,510
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
We use TracFone prepaid phones and last I checked, we are not allowed to tether. Wifi from nearby businesses is marginal at best. So we bought a hot spot.
The hot spot we bought is a Franklin R850 and it uses Sprint/T-Mobile as the carrier. Most places we travel it works OK, but there are locations where the Sprint/T-Mobile cell signal is less than adequate. This results in slow data and dropped connections.
But it is still well worth the cost. As a member of USPS which is a 503C(?) organization, we are eligible to purchase the hot spot for $18 and buy a year's prepaid service for $120. This service is 4G LTE and the data is "UNLIMITED". The "Unlimited" data is actually 23Gb of 4G data EVERY MONTH, and then it drops to 3G for as much data as you want. For $10/month it is a great perk of USPS membership.
There are lots of other benefits of USPS membership in addition to the great courses and seminars covering everything from Seamanship to Celestial Navigation. End of Public Service Announcement......
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,853
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
We have ATT unlimited data plans. For 2 lines the cost per month was around $40. We’ve had the plan for over a year. Works well however over some amount of data the speed slows down, not a big deal except when streaming video.
 

walt

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Jun 1, 2007
3,454
Macgregor 26S Hobie TI Ridgway Colorado
I now only have a Verizon cell phone that I can use as a wifi hot spot.

Last year I lived in a remote spot which Verizon showed as roaming. My cell phone would make calls just fine but the wifi hot spot capability would not work because of roaming. Take the phone to a less remote location (not roaming), the internal wifi hot spot would work just fine.

However, I also had a Verizon jetpack hot spot and it did work as a hot spot in the roaming conditions. We either had to use that cell hot spot or satellite for internet and I got by fine on the hot spot but I dont stream much video.

We moved this spring to a less remote location. I got rid of the jetpack dedicated wifi hot spot and now only use my cell phone as a wifi hot spot when occasionally needed. That remote spot is the only place I have had the roaming limitation.

Point being, you have to watch "roaming" capability with whatever you are using as a cell based hot spot. At least this was true for the location above last year.
 
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Likes: LloydB

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,833
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
I have a verizon MiFi that works pretty well. It is essentially a cell phone but it's only job is to be a hot spot. I've found it works better then my cell phone that has the hot spot capability. I have an unlimited data package on all my cell phones and on my MiFi. However, that MiFi only allows I think 20 GB at the highest transfer rates and after that is downgrades to the next level and frankly is useless as a hot spot. I've found being as judicious as possible, I can use the MiFi with the high speed access for about 2 weeks before I hit the limit and have to wait for the next month for it to reset. So I have two weeks of running, and two weeks of wishing I was running. I have used the cell phone as the hot spot running my computer but it does not perform as well as the MiFi. Much better when I've hit the limit with the MiFi, but not up to the same capability.

I understand there is a new sat phone system that is a hot spot, and apparently the monthly costs are now reasonable. I don't know a lot more yet, I'm researching that option. That would be nice as it apparently works crossing oceans...

dj
 
Jan 18, 2016
686
Catalina 387 Dana Point
I have a verizon MiFi that works pretty well. <snip>
I do as well. I often work from the harbor, and the harbor's WIFI is a joke and an attempted profit center. (Ass all things Dana Point Harbor currently are.)

I've spent time over on Catalina working, and it's Verizon or nothing. Sometimes you can get decent WIFI some places, but it's awfully spotty. The Verizon MIFI works well enough to have video zoom meetings, push code to a repository, etc.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,140
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
In the Puget Sound and the Inside Passage of BC I have used T-Mobil. Their Unlimited Data plan has been a great tool. They recognize both Canada and Mexico in their plan at no extra charge. It is the One Plan Plus for Military.

So far coverage has been very good. The big test will come next year on the Round Vancouver Isle 2022 trip.
 
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Likes: Mark Maulden
Jan 11, 2014
7,853
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
We have ATT unlimited data plans. For 2 lines the cost per month was around $40. We’ve had the plan for over a year. Works well however over some amount of data the speed slows down, not a big deal except when streaming video.
@jssailem reminds me, the plan we have with AT&T also offers unlimited data and calling in the US, Canada, and Mexico. When we were planning to go to Canada it was well worth it. We also get Paramount+ for free.
 
Nov 22, 2011
981
Ericson 26-2 San Pedro, CA
I do as well. I often work from the harbor, and the harbor's WIFI is a joke and an attempted profit center. (Ass all things Dana Point Harbor currently are.)

I've spent time over on Catalina working, and it's Verizon or nothing. Sometimes you can get decent WIFI some places, but it's awfully spotty. The Verizon MIFI works well enough to have video zoom meetings, push code to a repository, etc.
I have a MiFi with Verizon and can also tether the laptop to my cell phone. I do lots of work over at the Island and *most of the time* Verizon gets the job done. I believe AT&T works well at the Island, though I've never used it myself.

Verizon is far from problem-free. Verizon had some MAJOR problems over at Avalon throughout the summer and fall last year. I cut one trip short in September of last year because both data and voice calls were down for Verizon customers only. I then took a trip a month later and the Verizon connection will still flaky inside the main harbor. I moved out to Hamilton Cove, which has a different cell tower, and it worked well for the rest of the trip. I guess getting Verizon techs out there to fix things is somewhat of a challenge. One of the harbor patrolmen, who also is on Verizon, told me that there have been reliability issues for a while.

FWIW, I've had no issues with Verizon at Two Harbors.
 
Jan 18, 2016
686
Catalina 387 Dana Point
I have a MiFi with Verizon and can also tether the laptop to my cell phone. I do lots of work over at the Island and *most of the time* Verizon gets the job done. I believe AT&T works well at the Island, though I've never used it myself.

Verizon is far from problem-free. Verizon had some MAJOR problems over at Avalon throughout the summer and fall last year. I cut one trip short in September of last year because both data and voice calls were down for Verizon customers only. I then took a trip a month later and the Verizon connection will still flaky inside the main harbor. I moved out to Hamilton Cove, which has a different cell tower, and it worked well for the rest of the trip. I guess getting Verizon techs out there to fix things is somewhat of a challenge. One of the harbor patrolmen, who also is on Verizon, told me that there have been reliability issues for a while.

FWIW, I've had no issues with Verizon at Two Harbors.
If I'm working, it's at Two Harbors (we rarely go to Avalon or stay too long). Thus the Verizon point. Haven't been to Avalon this year, so was unaware about the Verizon issues there. Last year it was fine.
 

CarlN

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Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
We have Verizon cell phones with unlimited but also carry an AT&T hotspot with 100GB for $55/month. That way we have good internet if either one has a good signal. The hotspot is easier than a phone hotspot or tether mode because it's always there and everything on the boat can connect to it. It's like the wifi at your home cable internet. We found these folks the best for understanding internet for the boat.
 
Aug 28, 2006
493
Bavaria 35E seattle
we just got back from a South Sound trip and while using T-Mobile there were many places I was only getting 1 bar, so the hotspot was useless.
 
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Likes: jssailem
Feb 14, 2014
5,714
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
We use this for our onboard router and hot spot.

Netgear Nighthawk M1 MR1100 Mobile Hotspot Router for AT&T [5G]

We have a watertight enclosure to haul it up the pennant line, to get ≈20 mile offshore internet connection.

Raymarine's internal wifi, for their SeaTalk, connects also for monitoring on the boat's iPad.

Cheaper than Satellite connection.
Jim...

PS: There is a Antennae jack to add a booster, if you want.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,140
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Can someone provide an explanation? In looking at the options for a mobile hotspot, I come to the question. Why can I not use a Voice/Phone plan SIM in a MiFi hotspot device? Is this a hardware limitation or is this a marketing issue?

Looking on line the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 looks interesting as a hotspot device for a boat.
 
Feb 14, 2014
5,714
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
Why can I not use a Voice/Phone plan SIM in a MiFi hotspot device?
You can, with the right phone or iPad.

We separate the functions of Hot Spot/Router and Voice.

Really for us, a matter of preparation.

1) get on boat
2) fire up HS/Router,
3) select Hot Spot as the WiFi on all devices
4) go sailing.

Stop at Marina for Shrimp meal, but take our iPhone with us.
If you use the phone as the HS/Router...

Boat Wifi Disconnect.:facepalm:

Jim...
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,791
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
For a while we used a dedicated wifi router from Verison. Then we increased our AT&T cell phone data plan and now just use its hot spot. My wife also has an IPAD with its own wifi hot spot.