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Hi we are just about to purchase our first narroboat as continuous cruisers and would very much appreciate advice for best Internet provider and how to install equipment for WiFi. many thanks antony Perry. 

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As CC'rs, no single provider is best at every place.  However, I've not had many problems with 3 over the last decade or so (apart from their customer service and withdrawal of plans etc).  You need to provide more information on what you want from your internet connection - what devices and quantities of data do you want(both upload and download), how vital is it to you, whereabouts are you proposing to cruise, how big is your boat, what power supplies do you have, what's your level of knowledge and competence with modems, routers, electricity?

 

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I also find that 3 does it for me. but I did have a very weak spot down the Ashby, a good signal in Coventry but a very slow connection. This is bridge 99 on the Oxford/GU about a mile out side Braunston

 image.png.78f25cdbe19ff98e54e8537dbf005c7a.png

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Hi boat is 58ft we have laptop tablet 1smart phone and smart TV. we will be continuous cruisers so will need strong Internet with unlimited data. we are reasonably capable and savie people. 

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I've been working from the boat recently and using a sim from Smarty which uses the 3 network. Their unlimited data plan is £20 a month with no contract.

I have my phone with Tesco mobile which uses O2 so when I have had an issue with the Smarty connection I've tethered off my phone to continue working.

Also now streaming TV over the internet rather than messing with a TV aerial.

Edited by Rob-M
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I use Smarty which is basically 3 without a contract.

http://referme.to/blHJxgx

In a Huawei B535router and an Poynting omnidirectional external antenna.

Works well.

I use 3 on contract at home in a Huawei B818 router that works very quickly normally about 90mbs ?

 

Edited by Loddon
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I would say as the first step just use the hotspot on your phone and see how you get on, then look for improvements.  I use the internet from the boat a lot and just use my phone on Three with unlimited internet, and it works out well in most places.

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35 minutes ago, john6767 said:

I would say as the first step just use the hotspot on your phone and see how you get on, then look for improvements.  I use the internet from the boat a lot and just use my phone on Three with unlimited internet, and it works out well in most places.

 

Me too. I'm (supposed to be) working from boat and using the phone as a hotspot works fine and avoids an additional monthly payment or contract. If you want to stream TV, movies, etc, then that's different matter.

 

Perhaps it's my miser instinct, but I'm always surprised when I talk to people and they're shelling out for different monthly bills for things that I'd never dream of spending my money on. I guess it depends what you like. I bought an Amazon firestick a few months ago which is just a one off payment as I have unlimited data on my phone, but once I looked at what I could watch I realised I wasn't interested in any of it and sent it back. I'm sure netflix has similar rubbish.

 

I was on O2 and enjoying good coverage at my previous mooring but I've moved to a new mooring that's a bit more isolated and according to the Offcon coverage checker Three is the only network that covers the area and the signal is weak. I've changed to Three but had to set the phone to 3G to speed things up as 4G coverage is so weak. The phone is in the window but is there any antenna I can use that could link to the phone to improve things? 

Edited by blackrose
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25 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

Me too. I'm (supposed to be) working from boat and using the phone as a hotspot works fine and avoids an additional monthly payment or contract. If you want to stream TV, movies, etc, then that's different matter.

 

Perhaps it's my miser instinct, but I'm always surprised when I talk to people and they're shelling out for different monthly bills for things that I'd never dream of spending my money on. I guess it depends what you like. I bought an Amazon firestick a few months ago which is just a one off payment as I have unlimited data on my phone, but once I looked at what I could watch I realised I wasn't interested in any of it and sent it back. I'm sure netflix has similar rubbish.

 

I was on O2 and enjoying good coverage at my previous mooring but I've moved to a new mooring that's a bit more isolated and according to the Offcon coverage checker Three is the only network that covers the area and the signal is weak. I've changed to Three but had to set the phone to 3G to speed things up as 4G coverage is so weak. The phone is in the window but is there any antenna I can use that could link to the phone to improve things? 

Works OK for streaming, we have a Now TV stick for the bbc, itv etc catch up and live streaming as well as Netflix and loads of other stuff. 

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I have previously used the 3 network with good results, but currently I'm using the EE network as it's the only one that works.  So be prepared to have several networks available as you move around.

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I concur with the other posters - start with what you've got and work from there; use the smart phone (or buy a second-hand one specifically for the task) as a hotspot.  It'll need charging in situ, so make sure you've got usb cables that will reach a window or porthole to perch it in. 

 

58ft boat - it is possible, depending on what's where, that a wifi signal won't reach from end-end, especially if the phone/router is at one end.  If so, carefully consider where to put the phone...

 

1 each of laptop, tablet, phone and TV - yes, if you're going to consume video, you will need unlimited data.  3 (or smarty) are the best (only) providers of unlimited data (others, including Giffgaff claim unlimited, but seriously throttle throughput after a limit).  There are some areas where you will not get a good signal; check the coverage map carefully, and take it with a pinch of salt; don't forget the canal is usually the lowest feature in the immediate vicinity and the transmissions will be masked by hedges and trees.  Get an app (Network Cell Info Lite?) that will tell you where the tower you're using is; then you can position the phone to best advantage.  You will not always get enough bandwidth to operate all your devices - consider getting Freeview and Freesat aerials for the TV, ensure that you've got onboard datastores for when the cloud is not available....

 

 

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I've cruised for a total of almost four years just tethering my phone (Three contract, unlimited data), until a couple of weeks ago when I finally installed a 4G router and sensible antenna, and took out a second data-only contract with Three. So far so good - it's much less faff, and it seems rare now not to have any signal whatsoever. Unfortunately, poo Internet does still occasionally happen and the only solution, really, is to move somewhere else!

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2 hours ago, DaveP said:

I concur with the other posters - start with what you've got and work from there; use the smart phone (or buy a second-hand one specifically for the task) as a hotspot.  It'll need charging in situ, so make sure you've got usb cables that will reach a window or porthole to perch it in. 

 

58ft boat - it is possible, depending on what's where, that a wifi signal won't reach from end-end, especially if the phone/router is at one end.  If so, carefully consider where to put the phone...

 

 

 

If you are buying a phone just to connect to the internet you may as well buy a MiFi Mine is about 20 feet back in the lounge and get wifi right through the boat and even out on the back deck

  • Greenie 2
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Another advocate for phone tethering here. Got rid of my home landline phone and broadband almost four years ago and just buy a £25 giffgaff phone topup each month (O2 network). This gives unlimited phone, SMS & data, although data speed can be throttled during daytime above 80Gb use (cheaper deals are available from other providers I'm sure). The phone is only a cheap Alcatel smartphone (about £50) which allows me to budget for a new one every year or so (whenever the screen gets too broken!) and it is my regular day to day phone too. It takes two seconds to turn the Hotspot on or off on the phone

 

That setup has been fine for my needs including streaming YouTube and iplayer etc on the laptop, aswell as sites like this, uploading files to a server and photos to ebay. I got rid of my TVs years ago so watch everything on the laptop both at home and on the water.

 

I've used it like this inside a steel narrowboat with the phone sitting on the dining table about three feet from the window, and nowadays use it inside a GRP boat, pretty rural locations. It's just worked so I've never seen any reason to 'improve' it. The only thing I do have is a spare phone and SIM  from a different network in case either the phone breaks or the O2 network fails.

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Despite agreeing with others about using the phone as a hotspot, after 3 days back working from the boat at my new mooring I think I'm going to have to concede defeat and get some sort of external antenna or additional mi-fi contract. 

 

This area is only covered by 3 and EE so I changed from O2 to 3. There's no signal inside the boat but with the phone in the window it seems ok most of the time. But sometimes it cuts out and it's happened a few times during Teams meetings. 3 tech support have advised me to switch my preferred network coverage to 3G rather than 4G as I'll get a faster connection in this area. However, weirdly the Ofcom signal coverage map seems to disagree with that and shows better 4G coverage in this area with 3. I'm getting download speeds of about 14 Mbps with the phone as a hotspot and set to 3G which is fine, but I think the signal must be fluctuating which is why it cuts out occasionally. 

 

I've looked at the long thread in General Boating about Improving Onboard Mobile Communications, but finding it a bit confusing. 

 

So what are my options now? Should I get a 3 mi-fi contract and an external antenna?

 

 

Edited by blackrose
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Monthly contracts with resellers offer a lot of flexibility. Smarty offer the "3" network on this basis and Plusnet (and probably others) offer EE on a monthly basis with the opportunity to suspend service (for up to 6 months) or change volume of data required each month (and for less than if you buy direct).  Options are changing all the time so you need to take a look at what suits your location.

 

ETA: I use an unlocked Huawei mifi which was I think around £30 as it has better reception than my phone hanging in the window. I don't work onboard but I do like to have comms and I can skype (or whatever) on a device over mifi (hanging in the window without an aerial) in locations where my mobile won't get adequate signal for a call on the same network.

Edited by alias
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A Three Data contract should give you a free Huawei B535 dont accept a 311 or 525 as they are not as good.

Couple the Huawei to a Poynting Antenna like THIS

i use that setup onboard and at Ringstead it makes the differance between having a usable 4g signal and having to use 3g

If you want to run the Huawei from 12v DC rather than 230vAC just give me a call and I can sort it simply.

 

18 minutes ago, blackrose said:

My neighbour has one of these.

 

 

IMG_20210616_210430.jpg

 

Problem with that is it only has one cable so wont run MIMO thus halving the available speed.

 

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14 hours ago, robtheplod said:

I use Vodafone with an unlimited data card. A router with an external aerial. Gives good signal everywhere I've been so far, enough to stream Netflix and work remotely.

I am at the Blue Lias, no 3 signal and Vodafone is struggling. Fine for the forum but Google Maps just hang there 

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Phone them, you should be able to get the unlimited price down to £17 and get the 535. (Mine is £15 but that was to stop me leaving)

On line is not always the best deal from Three

Edited by Loddon
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There's no way of using one's phone (with unlimited data) as a hotspot in conjunction with an antenna is there? Just wanted to check this before I sign up for another contract.

1 minute ago, Loddon said:

Phone them, you should be able to get the unlimited price down to £17 and get the 535. (Mine is £15 but that was to stop me leaving)

On line is not always the best deal from Three

 

Ok, so 5783 is not as good?

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