Date: 3 January 2015. Bandwidth Blues
It is true:
I love life afloat. That said, even though I have gotten away from it
all I do want my internet. And at the Seaweed state of finances,
it has to be inexpensive. Free would be wonderful, however the
days of open wifi are sadly over. Now, even if the connection is
unlocked, web-surfing is shut down. But what does all that mean?
stuff like this website) is a different matter entirely from the
focus of this article. What I place and your use/viewing of same
janice142.com are not discussed in
Bandwidth Blues (internet afloat).
If however you own your own domain I do recommend the company
I have used for the past several years:
The price is very economical and the up-time is good too.
I have the least expensive
plan and thus far have been pleased with all aspects of WHB's service.
In order to go online, download and read email or even do something
like uploading pictures for this website, I need bandwidth. And boy,
oh yacht-boy, are there options.
In the old
I'd cruise along looking for the computer to connect to an open wifi
source, then would anchor as close by as possible. Though that
sounds wonderful on the surface, there were problems.
connection would disappear when I tried to click.
request would come up.
happened at all even though I appeared to be connected and able to
See buildings, scan for unlocked wifi, anchor. Then
prepare to be disappointed.
For some, a
cell phone works well. That is what my Kidlet does. She surfs via her
cell phone. She has been with Verizon long enough to have her
unlimited bandwidth grandfathered-in. Though that sounds and is
great, those "free" phones you get on renewal of contract do
exist with her plan status.
works for her.
Minnesota asked "How do you get internet on Seaweed, like wireless
or what do I need to buy to get that working???"
AT&T, Walmart, Verizon and more offer wireless plans for folks who
want to be online at will. I am with Verizon and pay $50.08 per month
for five gigs. I have passed the contract requirement (two years) so
am month-to-month at this point.
plan offered four gigs per month. When I mentioned last autumn I'd
be shopping for a better deal at the expiration of my contract, the
four was upped to five gigs.
five is still not enough. Proof follows:
I have used 4.981 of my 5 gig allotment. Ouch.
Of course I can use more, and
Verizon is perfectly happy to bill me for the extra. It is $15 per
gig or portion thereof for being stupid. I simply cannot afford that
added expense. The connection itself is stretching my budget. The
cost is over $600 per year and that is a lot of perfectly good money.
The Verizon wireless plan is also
my means of communicating with the outside world. Without this
aboard Seaweed I was lonely and felt out-of-touch with the
everything. Phone calls with friends were my only source of
information. When things went wrong on the boat (the fuel pick-up
line fiasco comes to mind) it was friends who offered options to try
while attempting to sort out the problem.
Still, I prefer to rely on myself
I suspect a rather
strong streak of independence would be
found a common denominator in most successful boaters.
The internet is a valuable source of information. For
has some of the smartest Doing-It folks around. It is one of my
favorite places to learn what is working in the real world of power
Side Note: If you're considering a specific brand of vessel,
seek out the owner's forum for that boat. That is where you will
find people with experience who know their stuff. It is worth
the time to learn pitfalls and solutions for your particular
vessel. Believe me, most problems have been solved before
yours appeared. And there are probably at least two or three
ways to fix said issue. Let others knowledge be your guide.
For me, I prefer to do research first before asking the question in
most cases. That way I have a basis to rely on when judging the
options offered. In that regard, a wifi connection aboard Seaweed
was a wished-for item since the get-go. On year four I chose Verizon
and had the USB gizmo shipped to me.
Friends Jewell and Frank were kind
enough to allow me to have a box sent to their home. You met
those kind folks in the
By the Shipyard
article. They are just the nicest couple... truly in love and that is
always wonderful to witness.
The Verizon flash drive gizmo attaches via USB to my
computer. It's the one on the left.
Each time I
sign on the internet a small box pops up showing my usage through
the month. (My month restarts on the 7th incidentally.) Thus I
generally try to have all my pictures uploaded early so
that when the end comes I can still go online and check email, etc.
This is a delicate balancing act to ensure I have the photos I need
along with the bandwidth to visit sites like
month (December 2014) I was a bit frivolous wandering around the
internet. Five gigs sounds like a lot at the beginning of the month
but by week three, it is not nearly enough.
specifically, I never (not once!) visit You-Tube nor do I watch
anything streaming, listen to music online, steal movies, etc. There
simply is not enough bandwidth in my plan to do any of those things.
Heck, a movie (in HD) could easily "cost" 7 gigs.
In the forest outside of Carrabelle my Verizon phone did have bars.
I could make and receive phone calls.
What I do
appreciate about Verizon is in this area connecting is easy, stable
and fast. While in Carrabelle for my engine swaps I have been out in
the country visiting new friends where my phone was the only one
with a signal. The wifi gizmo works off the phone system. If there
is a bar on the regular phone, the internet gizmo will function.
you select should meet the following criteria:
Coverage should be
spectacular. It matters not what something costs if you cannot
connect to the internet. Price isn't everything.
Speak with locals -- they
will know what companies work and what do not do so well in
Online forums can offer
advice for specific cruising grounds, however buy for what
you are going to use immediately.
It is best to have
customer service based in the United States. You do not want
to deal with someone when having an issue who doesnot
understand the nuances of the language you are most familiar
Seek either a short-term
contract or none if at all possible. I was locked in to two
years (ouch!) however it has worked for me. My coverage is
outstanding and that was the most critical component in my
decision making process.
I had service in the middle of nowhere on Saul Creek. I wrote
about that place in the
Silence Reigns (Saul Creek)
Whatever company you opt for, I wish you well. I am much happier with
Verizon now that I know that I can say "kiss my transom" were
another company to come along that better suits me. For the time
being however I like being with a big-guy who will presumably be
there for the long-term.
Do not even
get me started on the Verizon cell phone warranty however.
Specifically the replacement with
"comparable" phone portion, because it is ugly. I am not
at all happy. And the
dumb phone (I do not do smart ones) they sent sucks bilge water. I am stuck and I absolutely hate,
detest and abhor it. But that is another story...
What wifi company did you chose for your life afloat?
Where are you based?
Are you pleased with the service and coverage?
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