Internet access afloat

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cpedw
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Internet access afloat

Postby cpedw » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:25 am

This summer we will be away for about 6 weeks, planning to head north up the west coast, round Skye and further north. Probably not going further west. We have a laptop with wifi but it's my guess that we won't find many places where that will connect to email and suchlike.
Does anyone have experience of a low cost method of getting in touch occasionally. It would be quite acceptable if connection was available only once or twice a week. We already have mobile phones, Vodaphone and 3, in case that helps.
Would it make more sense to go for a Blackberry or other self-contained solution?
What do people recommend?
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ash
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby ash » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:05 am

Shard will be your man for this ?

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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Daveanmucker » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:18 pm

I will be interested to see the results of this post, Have looked at options like a 3g dongle etc when I go north but its obvious they dont have the coverage. I have an XDA 2 that works well t get the forcast and check t e mails but to small to do much more.

However as I'm off tomorrow for a week or two it won't matter an i will miss the advice.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby claymore » Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:32 pm

I have a t-mobile dongle which works spasmodically around England
Dear Heart has a vodaphone mobile which used to have brilliant coverage in the Melfort/Oban area and my orang phone works fine in Tobers.

Therefore, A vodaphone dongle onto a laptop ought to do it.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby So_Sage_of_Lorne » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:59 pm

I have a vodafone dongle on a lapdog, so far I havn't found anywhere that I can get 3G the alternative GPRS is as slow as a slow thing going slow slowly :(
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cpedw
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby cpedw » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:16 pm

This map shows that Vodaphone covers the west coast but only with their non 3G service. I can't find it again but there is a website somewhere that revealed Vodaphone to be definitely the best coverage in the remoter parts, but I note there's a dodgy bit around Cape Wrath.
I can't decide if it's worth the bother for email on board. Is there an internet cafe north of Kyle of Lochalsh?
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Nick » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:17 pm

.
the alternative GPRS is as slow as a slow thing going slow slowly

. . . but twenty times as fast as a Satphone connection at a quid a minute. It's all relative. GPRS typically operated at 32 - 48 kbps, which is not far short of the speed obtained using a dial-up account and 56k modem - which was all the rage not so long ago.

Good for e-mail, lousy for surfing the web as web designers tend to assume everyone has broadband nowadays.

Shard, you seem to browse the forum OK afloat - what sort of speeds do you get?
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Telo » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:26 pm

Nick wrote:Shard, you seem to browse the forum OK afloat - what sort of speeds do you get?

I use a T-Mobile dongle (that was what was easily and locally available at the time) within the UK, for which I pay £15 pm up to a limit of (I think) 3 gigs (btw never ever used anything like that).

3G is pretty good when you get it, but often not sufficient bandwidth to use Skype properly. On the west coast of Scotland a GPRS signal of about 57Kb/s is about par for the course ie as good as you'd get on a land line with an old modem (before ADSL). Obviously it depends upon where you are, but we do get better than that now and then.

Having said that, 57k is sufficient for U-Grib, inshore forecast, email, and even forum access, albeit a bit slow.

I think the dongle is a reasonable compromise as you can open up documents with your laptop, something that Blackberry users complain about. Three things;
    1. Although I use T-Mobile, I suspect that the west may be better served by O2 and Vodafone;
    2. I never use anything remotely approaching 3gig per month, so perhaps a lower limit contract may be more cost effective.
    3. Never, ever, use it while you're abroad unless you are prepared to pay full overseas mobile phone charges for the privilege. Doesn't cost in.

Anchorages very often have poor reception (as also with VHF and Navtex, and for the same reasons). Best quality is usually on open water.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby cpedw » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:05 am

For our use over less than 2 months in the summer, would it make sense to go for this Vodaphone pay as you go? It's £39 for the dongle and 1Gb then £15/Gb after that.
Seems almost cheap enough to be worth a try.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Nick » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:10 am

.
would it make sense to go for this Vodaphone pay as you go? It's £39 for the dongle and 1Gb then £15/Gb after that.

I've ordered one - hope to have it in time for the Chentleman's Cruise this weekend.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Daveanmucker » Tue May 05, 2009 5:08 pm

Nick wrote:.
would it make sense to go for this Vodaphone pay as you go? It's £39 for the dongle and 1Gb then £15/Gb after that.

I've ordered one - hope to have it in time for the Chentleman's Cruise this weekend.


Wondered how you got on with the vodaphone dongle, it sounded good to me and was going to get one myself. However I went onto the vodaphone website to check the coverage in western Scotland. It appeared to have very little coverage north of Oban and none at all on the outer Hebrides.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Nick » Tue May 05, 2009 6:38 pm

vodaphone website to check the coverage in western Scotland

The darker blue shows coverage - which is pretty good out to sea even though it is terrible inland. The advantage of the Vodafone dongle is it is Pay As You GBO, so if it doesn't work it isn't costing you anything. 3 do a PAYG USB modem as well, but the MBs expire if not used within a certain time - VF give you up to 270 days between top-ups.

I only fired the dongle up briefly to install and test it and it worked fine. Shard will give you a better idea of the overall range / dead spots etc, but VOdafone is reckoned to be the best from here Northwards and Westwards.
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby claymore » Tue May 12, 2009 8:52 am

I think one would be lucky to find a cafe north of Kyle of Lochalsh, never mind one with internet...
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cpedw
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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby cpedw » Wed May 13, 2009 4:42 pm

I've still got a few weeks to make my mind up. But having been inclined to pursue the Vodafone dongle, I've now been distracted by this toy from Maplin which seems to claim quality web surfing by GPRS but the details of how that's done are beyond me. Can anyone advise if it's likely to be any better than a laptop and dongle?
Thanks,
Derek

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Re: Internet access afloat

Postby Nick » Wed May 13, 2009 10:29 pm

Can anyone advise if it's likely to be any better than a laptop and dongle?

Not a hope - its only 640 x 240 resolution for a start. A Netbook (eg Dell Mini 9) plus dongle will provide an infinitely better surfing experience. The Datawind isn't going to be any faster as it is still using the same mobile network, and any alleged software acceleration is going to be compromised by constant vertical and horizontal scrolling plus a tiny keypad.

Here's a couple of reviews, you can google up plenty more:

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/128702/d ... rfer2.html

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/inde ... wid=107230
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