Need A Smarter Connection? Try One Of These.
We get this a lot:
- What can I do to better receive onSpot wifi throughout my boat; from the Saloon down to the Stateroom and all points in between?
- How can I make my Smart TV, Roku, or Apple TV hook up to onSpot wifi so I can watch Netflix and other streaming channels?
- I have 6 devices on the boat. How can I connect all 6 without having to log them onto onSpot wifi every time.
Our response: Yes, our Networks are definitely fast, “Better Marina WiFi Hotspots”, but our Hotspots will be much faster and more efficient when using a Router/Antenna combination.
- Why should I buy another piece of equipment to get better WiFi?
A couple of useful analogies:
- If you buy a new TV, set it up in your boat, turn it on, does it work well without a receiver or antenna? Probably not. The same goes for your computer/tablet/phone.
- If you’ve just had Broadband Internet installed at your home. Can you wirelessly surf the web without a WiFi router attached to the source? No.
- Want a better WiFi experience? Get a Router/Antenna/Bridge.
Our guarantee is… we’ll supply a minimum of 3Mbps download bandwidth to each boat in the marina. That being said, we can’t promise that those speeds will be realized throughout your boat. There are too many variables to contend with, too many obstacles, and too much interference inside every boat to be able to promise such throughput. And, quite often the problem is your computer. WiFi is a 2 way street, if your computer has a weak antenna our network can’t see it and consequently can’t communicate with it. This is why onSpot recommends using a Router/Antenna/Bridge. Just like your Broadband provider at home, you need a device to effectively distribute the WiFi signal that we’ve delivered to your boat.
We’ve put together a few recommendations for devices that will not only enhance the onSpot wifi signal, but that of any other working WiFi Hotspot or Cellular connection you might come across while cruising around on your boat.
But first we’ll borrow a couple of illustrations from Ben Ellison who writes for Panbo.com This may help to better understand the concept.
We respectfully disagree with Ben’s Con list. Range with most Router/Antenna combinations is pretty amazing and if connecting to an onSpot wifi Marina security is as good as it gets. Inconsistent availability? Yes, but we’re working hard to change that.
Link to Panbo’s story
The next question:
- What equipment should I buy?
Onboard WiFi and cell booster strategies, the diagrams
– See more at: http://www.panbo.com/archives/2015/04/onboard_wifi_and_cell_booster_strategies_the_diagrams.html#sthash.VgwjQzW7.dpuf
We’ll start with the least expensive and easiest to install.
1. Pepwave Surf On The Go. Buy Here
We love this little device. It’s only $100.00, easy to setup, very powerful for it’s size, and no installation… just plug it into any 110 outlet, configure, and start surfing.
Think of the Surf On The Go as the Swiss Army Knife of WiFi devices; in small ways it does many things… and does them well.
For boats <40′, one SOTG will work well. For larger boats, (<60′) you may want to use two SOTGs in order to spread out coverage. One for Saloon, one for the Stateroom. Or, just move one SOTG from room to room.
A simple, but effective, network for your boat. $200.00, no costly installation, and you’ve lit up your entire boat.
- This router is best for: Users who want an affordable, adaptable device that operates as a router for 3G and 4G USB modems AND can be used as a wireless bridge or to easily connect to external WiFi networks (“WiFi as WAN”)
- Internet Connections Supported: 1 Wired WAN, 1 USB (view full compatibility chart), WiFi as WAN (more info)
- WiFi Standard: 802.11 B, G, & N selectable dual-band
- WiFi Range: 100-150′ through walls, much greater unobstructed (variable depending on interference from other electronics and physical interference such as walls and ceilings)
- Ethernet ports: 1 configurable LAN/WAN
- Power Supply: AC Adapter included, DC adapter sold separately
- Size: 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 1.0″
- Pepwave SOTG Review
What we use
2. Aigean Networks – LINK Buy Here
We use the new Aigean LINKs on our test boat and like them a lot. onSpot wifi offers both 2.4G and 5G connections at all of our marinas so we installed both LINK 2 and LINK 5 units to test and take advantage of these signals. We do recommend the 5G units while staying at onSpot marinas. The 5G band is normally much faster and less crowded. It’s not unusual to see speeds of 20+Mbps down when using 5G.
The LINKs are connected via Ethernet cables running from the Radar Arch down to a Peplink Balance 30 router. We like this router because it offers 3 separate connections. 2.4, 5G, and Cellular signals are distributed throughout the boat. Separately or concurrently.
But, any decent Dual Band Router with LINKs attached will work well.
Technical Stuff: The Aigean LINKs are the same Ubiquity Bullets that several other companies offer.
What sets them apart? First and foremost, they are much faster than the old Wave WiFi Bullet devices we were using. Second, we like Aigean’s User Interface. It’s simple, quick to navigate, and provides intuitive and easy to use tools to better manage your connection. Yes, Aigean is a new company but they are the former R&D and Support guys for Wave WiFi. (Can we say that?) Years of experience with the marine WiFi biz is a huge plus for us. They listen to their customers and they’re quick to adapt to our needs.
Aigean has all the products needed to put together a powerful, state of the art, network on your boat; no matter the size.
More info from Land and Sea
Aigean Networks – LINK
The Aigean LINK series is a lightweight wireless client used to improve your signal strength and quality when connecting to outside networks, such as those at marinas.
Designed primarily for smaller boats, the LINK Series offers great performance in a compact, weatherproof, cost-effective package.
Both installation and operation are very simple. Mount the LINK on a rail or stanchion with the included mount, run the Ethernet cable below deck and plug into your computer or existing network.
LINK2: 2.4 GHz only version. (standard)
LINK5: 5 GHz only version.
- Outdoor UV stabilized plastic housing
- Up to 7 mile range*
- Easy to use web interface (no setup necessary)
- Powerful, marine-grade, white antenna
- Aigean Networks 1 Year Limited Warranty
3. Island Pc Buy Here
While traveling where there is no WiFi
4. The Wirie Pro Buy Here
We’ve not used this product, but while traveling in the Bahamas, we have heard many good things about it. Supposedly, If there’s a decent Cellular signal the Wirie Pro has the hardware to amplify and improve it. Inside the colorful, water/weatherproof enclosure you’ll find the components that will pull in almost any over the air WiFi connection there is. (Except 5G).
So, if you’re in the Exumas and have The Wirie Pro, theoretically, you can use Batelco’s Cell Net and bypass onSpot’s very expensive, but dependable, Satellite internet. Our test boat will have one of these before we head back to the islands…. Satellite Internet is expensive for us too.
Another advantage of The Wirie Pro would be enjoying internet access while cruising remote sections of the ICW or running offshore, close to the coast. This would be quite helpful for weather and booking marinas while on the go.
• Long range WiFi and long range 2G/3G/4G, all in a single product
• Bullet M2 Titanium Long Range WiFi Adapter (best available)
• 8dBi marine WiFi antenna (Output power, EIRP, is 4W, the legal limit)
• Supports all global 2G/3G/4G GSM frequencies
• 2dBi Marine xG penta-band antenna; 7dBi antenna optional
• Local Access Point/Network built in (b/g/n)
• Easy to use administration pages manage WiFi and xG connections
• Single 12V cable (No max length)
• Single hardware installation
• Operate from any WiFi device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.)
• Mobile interface for use with smartphones to easily manage The Wirie pro
• Optional GPS functionality
• Fully waterproof (IP67)
• Flexible mounting options
• No software installation
• Choice of color
• 1 Year Warranty
• Compare The Wiriepro to our competitors
• Price: $649 USD
5. Bitstorm Bad Boy Buy Here
BAD BOY Xtreme N and Xtreme MJ are high power Wi-Fi solutions with up to 7 mile (~11km) range*. Output power up to 4W (36dBm) EIRP (Effective Isotropic Radiated Power) – the highest power legally allowed – for rock solid, high speed connections. Input power is 5-30 Volt DC or 100-250 Volt AC 50/60Hz (via optional AC adaptor). No power robbing USB connections. Xtreme is an unobtrusive, small and compact wi-fi transceiver that can be mounted on a rail, arch or masthead. Features a user friendly web-based interface developed by Bitstorm so there’s never any software to install. Easy to set-up and install. Xtreme is powered by the same cable that transfers the data which means there is only a single cable. Xtreme includes a custom developed matched and tuned antenna for best possible range and reception. It’s no wonder these BAD BOY‘s have gotten a reputation!
6. The RedPort Halo System BUY HERE
Another product that we’ve not tested but one that’s creating some buzz within the cruising community. It appears to be a Bullet type of device with a Pepwave SOTG like router (Optimizer) in the package. No, we’ve not tested this product but it does look interesting. And, they are nice folks from Marysville, Tennessee so it can’t be bad.
The only negative that we can see: No 5G only 2.4G. onSpot installs 5G at all our marinas and we recommend it’s use.
Everything You Need to Boost Your Outdoor Wi-Fi
The RedPort Halo system includes:
- Long-Range Wi-Fi Extender
- RedPort Optimizer Wi-Fi Hotspot
- 10m Ethernet Cable
- Optional Compression/Acceleration Apps
With the RedPort Halo long-range Wi-Fi extension system, you can get Wi-Fi from farther away, accelerate your connection by a factor of 3 to 5 times, and then share that Wi-Fi connection throughout your boat, truck, camp, etc.
onSpot suggests buying an Antenna/Router/Bridge from one of the recommended companies on this list above. These companies have support systems in place, they take the complications out of configuring a Bullet or Groove, and they’ll constantly be creating and distributing firmware updates that will enhance the longevity and performance of your device—specifically for it’s intended environment —Your Boat
WiFi is a rapidly evolving technology; we feel it’s money well spent when paying a bit more for a device that offers ongoing support and future updates.
Technically skilled or just enjoy a good challenge? Try one of these.
6. Ubiquity Bullet M2/M5 Buy Here
If you’re so inclined and have the technical skills needed, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing a raw Ubiquity Bullet and configure it to do the task.
If you are such a boater, you’re probably not reading this blog post anyway; you already know this.
7. Mikrotik Groove Buy Here
Like the Ubiquity Bullet, this can be a complicated device to set up, but if you, or you have technically talented friends, can configure this device, it will save you money. The Groove is a fast/inexpensive little bridge/antenna.
So there you have it. onSpot’s list of approved WiFi devices. Maybe more info than you asked for , but we’re sure you’ll find marina wifi much faster and less spotty if you put one of these gadgets to work on your boat.
You can spend a little: Pepwave SOTG, unconfigured Ubiquity Bullet or Mikrotik Goove, a bit more: Aigean LINK, Bad Boy, Island PC, Wirie, but all of the devices on our list are quality products that with the proper installation and configuration, will work well at onSpot wifi Marinas or other marinas with working WiFi.
We have tested most of these products, but we don’t sell or install them so our opinions are just that. We have no financial affiliation with any of these companies and nothing to gain from any boater using any device on this list — other than a happier boater using our network. — And, after all… that is our goal.
We hope this helps make your time online a more enjoyable experience.