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Good Internet connection while cruising


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Hello,

any experiences or advice around establishing a strong, stable internet connection on a boat? I’ll have to work from the boat (mainly Zoom meetings) and need the Internet to be reliable. I’ve read some posts on the web and in one a router called „Teltonika Rut 950 Dual Sim LTE“ was praised (in combination with an antenna on the roof). 
I am such there are other cruisers here that need good internet, what kind of gear works for you?

Thanks!

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31 minutes ago, Boatbird said:

Hello,

any experiences or advice around establishing a strong, stable internet connection on a boat? I’ll have to work from the boat (mainly Zoom meetings) and need the Internet to be reliable. I’ve read some posts on the web and in one a router called „Teltonika Rut 950 Dual Sim LTE“ was praised (in combination with an antenna on the roof). 
I am such there are other cruisers here that need good internet, what kind of gear works for you?

Thanks!

Don't cruise and use the internet at the same time. You'll crash!

There is a long thread here:

The higher the mobile signal receiving gadget is the better. Outside is better than inside. If inside, then bus type windows are better than portholes. In a window, or porthole is better than away from. Some places just have a rubbish, or no signal! There are a lot fewer of them than there used to be.

Jen

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1 hour ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

The higher the mobile signal receiving gadget is the better. Outside is better than inside

A bit more detail. mobile internet gadgets that can take an external aerial instead of, or as well as their built in internal one are good as the aerial can then be mounted outside. Even stuck on the end of a pole to get up high. The steel of a typical boat shell is very good at blocking radio waves. They can only get in through the windows if the antenna is inside.

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I bought one of these -

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Yagi-directional-Antenna-4G-LTE-High-Gain-28dBi-SMA-696-960MHz-1710-2690MHz/333770049198?hash=item4db63ec6ae:g:JDIAAOSwpE5fqpvV

 

Some years ago and it did improve the signal "reasonably"

The downside is that you have to turn the aerial (just as you would for TV) and that could be tedious depending on what Mi-Fi box you use.

There are loads of these on eBay at differeing prices, but I suspect they're all from the same source.

Mebe worth a punt at £15 or so - thus no tears if it doesn't work. Other folk have success with folded dipoles in a box, but they're sometimes a lot more expensive. If you're disinclined to fiddle around with electronics, then mebe not for you...

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3 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

I bought one of these -

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Yagi-directional-Antenna-4G-LTE-High-Gain-28dBi-SMA-696-960MHz-1710-2690MHz/333770049198?hash=item4db63ec6ae:g:JDIAAOSwpE5fqpvV

 

Some years ago and it did improve the signal "reasonably"

The downside is that you have to turn the aerial (just as you would for TV) and that could be tedious depending on what Mi-Fi box you use.

There are loads of these on eBay at differeing prices, but I suspect they're all from the same source.

Mebe worth a punt at £15 or so - thus no tears if it doesn't work. Other folk have success with folded dipoles in a box, but they're sometimes a lot more expensive. If you're disinclined to fiddle around with electronics, then mebe not for you...

Do you need one or two?

 

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37 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

Do you need one or two?

 

?que?

Do you mean one for transmitting and one for receiving (which I guess yoiu need for gaming?) that's out of my comfort zone and I'm so glad to get any signal at all that the idea of push me- pull you- is beyond my experience.

It's interesting as one antenna that I saw had two cables - I think it was from Solwise thus expensive, but then they do proper commercial stuff.

Anyway mine has only one and worked for me - then Voda upgraded my home local mast and it (the antenna) sits in my round to-it box.

 

If I misunderstood praps you'll come back?

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3 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

?que?

Do you mean one for transmitting and one for receiving (which I guess yoiu need for gaming?) that's out of my comfort zone and I'm so glad to get any signal at all that the idea of push me- pull you- is beyond my experience.

It's interesting as one antenna that I saw had two cables - I think it was from Solwise thus expensive, but then they do proper commercial stuff.

Anyway mine has only one and worked for me - then Voda upgraded my home local mast and it (the antenna) sits in my round to-it box.

 

If I misunderstood praps you'll come back?

Spot on, I keep reading about needing two.

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2 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Spot on, I keep reading about needing two.

You really only need 2 aerials for 4 or 5G signals which are predominently in town and cities.  Good 3G access will usually be present when you are alongside a Railway line or Motorway, in the more rual locations signal is hit and miss, it may be worth having an unlocked MiFi router and a selection of SIM cards EE and 3 seem to be the best two. There are locations where you won't get a signal, southern Shroppie is an example it is in a deep cutting for several miles. There are also dead spots one such being Crick by the marina entrance but 300 yards further north there is a good signal.

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4g works better with 2 antennas and the router should switch to 4g+. It uses a system called MIMO, multiple in multiple out, this means it will get twice the data throughput. My old router (cat6) runs 2x MIMO and gets speeds of over 30mbs down here in rural Devon, my phone (cat12) runs 4x MIMO and I see speeds of 75mbs in the same location.  So in answer if your router has two antenna sockets it's worth adding two antennas not one.

The new router arrives today and it's a cat16 router so I hope to get >75mbs, on 4g.

 

 

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14 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

There will be spots where you just wont get a signal of any quality regardless of what you use

 

This^^^^    The vast majority of the canal systems are as low as they can be. Yes there are locks that lift sections up but it's mostly as close to sea level as it possibly can be for obvious reasons. The mobile coverage in this country can be very sketchy especially when you go rural. When Mr Musk gets his satellites up and running maybe things will improve but with internet services such as they are at the moment you will, without a shadow of doubt, get spots where internet connectivity will be impossible. So if your meetings are super critical then you need to be in a good spot well before time. I do believe that there some internet satellite services running at the moment but I have no details of reliabilty or cost. Zoom, Teams, Skype etc etc do need good connectivity and a stable signal so some research of the various companies is essential if your meetings are critical. Also do not forget that a narrowboat moves at, roughly, four miles an hour. Regardless of what you are told by narrowboaters this is very very very slow. 99.9% of narrowboaters don't mind that because that is the pace of life that they have chosen to live but if you need to get from one place to another quickly in a narrowboat forget it. That could well be the case if you find that a meeting is scheduled and you have no internet connection so a lot of forward planning will be required.

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Hi there,

i really appreciate all your responses. Lots to think about now 🤔 and I’m not a techy... I’ll very likely be north of Liverpool on the Leeds/Liverpool canal (Burscough area) or at some point next year on the Lancaster one. Any experiences how the connectivity is in that area? 
Again thanks for all of you helping!

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I've continuously cruised 2015-2018 and 2020-present, and it's rare that I struggle for signal just tethering to my phone with nothing else. The key is to check the signal before you moor and find out that you don't have any! In the worst-case scenarios, I stick my phone outside in a dry bag — suboptimal, but workable. My point isn't to tell you that you don't need anything, more to reassure you that it won't be impossible to do what you're doing, particularly with an additional gadget.

 

I'm writing an Android app at the minute to log signal strength while cruising, to give a good reference as to where is good and where is not so good. Happy to send you it when I'm (/if I'm ever) done, if you'd find it useful.

  • Greenie 1
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46 minutes ago, tehmarks said:

 

 

I'm writing an Android app at the minute to log signal strength while cruising, to give a good reference as to where is good and where is not so good. Happy to send you it when I'm (/if I'm ever) done, if you'd find it useful

That does sound interesting and useful.

Will it log cell id as well?

It's the geek in me.

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@Loddon: I've currently planned for it to log the network name, cell connection state and signal strength, and data connection state on any change of state. There's no reason it couldn't log any other data that is available through the Android telephony interfaces though; I just hadn't considered that anything else might be useful. No timestamp either, as I think on balance the privacy issues that having provable tracking of one's location through time is a bigger drawback than positive. If I were to scale it up for general release, I'd probably have all data anonymised and sent to a cloud service without being stored locally (with timestamp), and aggregate data sent back to the device for display to mitigate this.

 

I'm tempted to turn it into a wider cruise log app, where you can record moorings with photos, notes, etc — but I doubt there's any real demand for an app like that, so for now I'm going to focus on implementing the bit that I actually want for myself! The logging aspect is already done, just need to put together a UI to display the data.

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21 hours ago, Boatbird said:

Hello,

any experiences or advice around establishing a strong, stable internet connection on a boat? I’ll have to work from the boat (mainly Zoom meetings) and need the Internet to be reliable. I’ve read some posts on the web and in one a router called „Teltonika Rut 950 Dual Sim LTE“ was praised (in combination with an antenna on the roof). 
I am such there are other cruisers here that need good internet, what kind of gear works for you?

Thanks!

We have the teltonikca rut 950 and a solwise dual antenna on the roof. We use 2 sims, one from EE and one from 3. For me it is the only way to get reliable internet wherever you are. That combination works. Signals can be weak in the odd place but 95% of the time when travelling we can stream video ok.

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4 hours ago, pete.i said:

 

This^^^^    The vast majority of the canal systems are as low as they can be. Yes there are locks that lift sections up but it's mostly as close to sea level as it possibly can be for obvious reasons. The mobile coverage in this country can be very sketchy especially when you go rural. When Mr Musk gets his satellites up and running maybe things will improve but with internet services such as they are at the moment you will, without a shadow of doubt, get spots where internet connectivity will be impossible. So if your meetings are super critical then you need to be in a good spot well before time. I do believe that there some internet satellite services running at the moment but I have no details of reliabilty or cost. Zoom, Teams, Skype etc etc do need good connectivity and a stable signal so some research of the various companies is essential if your meetings are critical. Also do not forget that a narrowboat moves at, roughly, four miles an hour. Regardless of what you are told by narrowboaters this is very very very slow. 99.9% of narrowboaters don't mind that because that is the pace of life that they have chosen to live but if you need to get from one place to another quickly in a narrowboat forget it. That could well be the case if you find that a meeting is scheduled and you have no internet connection so a lot of forward planning will be required.

With technology moving on, you should look at 5G MIMO routers -- not just because of 5G (mainly future-proofing, or high data rates in cities) but because they also tend to have good 4G (and 3G) performance using multiple antennas.

 

https://uk.bestreviews.guide/5g-routers

https://uk.pcmag.com/routers/8151/the-best-wireless-routers

https://5g.co.uk/guides/best-5g-router/

 

If you really want coverage in remote areas and are willing to pay for it (or get your employer to do so, if this isn't you...) -- and can get onto the release programme -- you could also consider the Starlink satellite data service.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55625071

https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/01/report-claims-first-uk-customers-to-receive-starlink-broadband.html

 

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4 minutes ago, IanD said:

f you really want coverage in remote areas and are willing to pay for it (or get your employer to do so, if this isn't you...) -- and can get onto the release programme -- you could also consider the Starlink satellite data service.

Doesn't that also involve taking an oath of allegiance to Elon Musk, future Emperor of Mars?

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2 hours ago, tehmarks said:

 

 

I'm tempted to turn it into a wider cruise log app, where you can record moorings with photos, notes, etc — but I doubt there's any real demand for an app like that

I'd be interested in something like that. 

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2 hours ago, IanD said:

If you really want coverage in remote areas and are willing to pay for it (or get your employer to do so, if this isn't you...) -- and can get onto the release programme -- you could also consider the Starlink satellite data service.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55625071

https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/01/report-claims-first-uk-customers-to-receive-starlink-broadband.html

Mmmmm. Any use on a boat?

We have sky for the tv on our bote but have a backup of our 4g router so we can get the feed over the internet if we are parked in trees and the dish cant pick up the sky signal. Each time we moor up in the afternoon, we look to see if we have a satellite signal....

If you then have to rely on a satellite signal for your broadband then you are again going to be stuffed if you have trees in the way. It will certainly work for peeps who moor in the same treeless place!

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