A reliable internet connection has become an essential part of yachting life, right up there with fuel and food supplies. It’s a modern home comfort that can help you stay safe, keep in touch with friends and family, and provide entertainment on long journeys. But which system is best for your needs?
The first – and cheapest – option is land-based WiFi. This works best either in a marina with a good network, when moored close to your home’s network, or in a location with a public hotspot. WiFi extenders can greatly extend the range and strengthen the signal. However, these do require good weather conditions, low interference and a direct line-of-sight. They also don’t make WiFi effective while underway at sea.
It can be hard to predict WiFi quality from one marina to the next, as WiFi is a tricky thing for marinas to deliver well. Sometimes, the marina operators don’t pay attention to providing a good service, and sometimes circumstances are simply beyond their control.
The second option is using your phone as a hotspot via your mobile cell service. This can be used alone or together with a booster. This can be delivered as MiFi through your mobile carrier, or through a marine-based dedicated hotspot such as WiriePro or Glomex WebBoat. These services work well up to 5-10 miles offshore, and especially when paired with a marine cellular antenna to better receive the signal. Many routers allow you to switch easily between WiFi and cellular connection, based on availability.
The third (and most expensive) option is a satellite communications system. This will connect you to the internet almost anywhere, and is your only option when travelling significant distances offshore. However, satellite is likely to provide the lowest throughput (data moved successfully from one place to another in a given time period) and highest delay, or latency. The seamless and vast satellite coverage can also be pricey.
Offshore Communications specialises in maintaining, installing and testing satellite communication systems for yachts. Contact us to discuss your needs and requirements.