Internet on a boat
Internet on any boat can be tricky but with some guidance you will get good broadband even in very poor areas. Again the secret is having good kit that will allow you to get the most from your boats network. You first of all need to look at what you want to do as far as the internet. You have to ask yourself a few questions like…
1) Do i need multiple devices to connect?
2) Do i want to stream video?
3) Do i want to play music?
4) Do i want to connect my devices like Televisions to other devices like a NAS (network attached storage)?
5) Do i want DNLA capable connections?
6) Do i want to work from my boat?
7) Do i move about the system or not.
Some of the resolutions will involve a degree of networking knowledge, but with today’s WiFi is fairly straight forward. However if you want fast connections within your boat then you must consider network cabling (RJ45) to connect up your devices such as DVDs, TV’s NAS devices and the like.
Using a network cable makes the transmission of data signals very reliable, fast and secure.
OPTION (1) the full monty
However you need some kit to make all of this work. That kit is a router, but not just any old router, you need a router that is capable of taking a Mobile Sim card to connect to your supplier, plus three RJ45 sockets to connect your network cables too, plus WiFi hot spot capability.
There are not that many good routers about that will suit a Narrow boat environment. The router should have a 12v feed for continuous use. You do not want to have an inverter running all the time to make 230 v ac, then have in reduced back to DC. You need to have one that is good at receiving good signals and broadcasting good secure signals.
I found this one and have been using it with great effect and has loads of great features, it is the Teltonika RUT950 Dual-Sim LTE Router it is an extremely reliable and secure LTE router designed for the professional and industrial market. It is a high performance unit for cellular communication to remote sites, boats and more. The unit has DUAL sim support if required but can be used just with a single sim. It has LTE support allowing you to enjoy the freedom of an LTE internet connection on your boat where ever you are.
It has built-in WiFi connectivity which has latest full security protocols. This allows you to secure your system but allow multiple device connections. You can even secure your devices by mac address numbers to the device as only allowing those devices. This unit does have may more features which it can handle, however will not be required on a boat.
As you can see buy the picture above, the Teltonika unit has four aerials, two for WiFi and two for LTE. The LTE aerials have SMA connectors so can be removed and wired up to an external aerial.
I have done this and found a great mushroom type designed aerial called a Fullband / Wideband Panel Mount MiMo antenna.
This ideally suited for mounting on top of a narrow boat and will not tangle in any of your ropes. It has a very robust and heavy duty design, combined with excellent radio performance making it suitable for 2G, 3G and 4G cellular devices as it covers the full 2G/3G/4G network frequencies. So is ideal for use with the Teltonika RUT950 Dual-Sim LTE Router.
I have been all over the system with this configuration and it works very well.
Well as i said from the beginning having good kit is the key.
The router can be obtained online for around £160 and the aerial for around £50.00
The Teltonika RUT950 has a great feature in that it has a DC voltage regulator and can take power from a range of between 9 – 30 VDC so will easily go onto a narrow boat with either 12VDC or 24DC
OPTION (2) WiFi Hotspots
If you live in a marina and do not wish to move, then you can connect to the local Wifi. This sometimes can be free with your berthing fees, or an added extra as it is in most places. The down side is that if you move, as boats do from time to time, you will need to find another Wifi hot spot to connect too. You will then need to obtain the new login details etc, and in most cases buy into the Wifi system for a short time. The main problem when moving is finding a reliable WiFi source. On the cut these are not very easily obtained especially if you are out in the wilds.
I found this unit at about £230 which is a Shakespeare WiFi-2 WebWhip Long-Range Wi-Fi Extender / Bridge Ethernet Converter it increases the coverage of marina WiFi hotspots by up to 7 miles using this fully integrated WiFi extender (antenna, radio and router), for internet reception on your boat. There are cheaper versions out there which are just WiFi only so take a look around. Some companies do advertise these items in the boat magazines.
Access to the internet can be directly through LAN (RTE) via a router or wirelessly, by connecting WebWhip to any standard Wi-Fi router via Wifi. You can manage the unit as you do the router above by web access via a web browser.
It is also IPX5 waterproof. However the 7 mile range extension is subject to line of sight, so will be reduced near buildings, hills, valleys, cuttings and trees.
The costs of RTE are dependent on your data supplier. I use EE with a plan that costs £90 per month that includes many features but also has two sim cards (one for my router and one for my phone) they then share the data plan. However 3 have just launched an unlimited plan, but i am at this time unsure of the cost for shared sims.
WiFi if not free with you mooring fee ranges between £50 and £80 per month. However if you go away then you may need to buy into a local WiFi hot spot.