MARINA WIFI & HOT SPOTS
Many marinas are investing in WiFi solutions. Connecting to Marina created WiFi hotspots can be a great method for obtaining internet on your canal boat or narrow boat. This section aims to explain all the considerations and additional products you’ll need for connecting to Marina WiFi & other WiFi hotspots.
Internet… What’s a Marina WiFi Hot Spot?
Many marinas now offer WiFi networks for boaters, in some cases they can provide an internet connection as good as most home broadband connections.
This might sound obvious that connecting to the internet via marina WiFi can be an ideal solution whilst at your home mooring and if this is the only time you are looking to connect to the internet, perfect. However, if you use your narrow boat for cruising and would like internet whilst on your travels, mobile internet could be a much better alternative as you can use this in your home mooring and whilst cruising the inland waterways.
Connecting to a marina hotspots does have its challenges, the problem faced by many boaters remains that the signal is much reduced, or even blocked, by the time it reaches inside the boat, particularly if it is a steel hull. Below we will look at a few different solutions to these challenges.
NOTE: All of the following solutions involve external antenna’s which have associated wires, sometimes two, which need feeding into the boat. If you are in the fortunate position of considering or just embarking on a build it would be beneficial to purchase your internet equipment and ask the widebeam boat builder to install it professionally hiding all the wires. If you are fitting out a sailaway canal boat you would be best to consider your internet requirements prior to starting the fit out. If you are retro fitting, most end up running the cable(s) through a window which isn’t ideal but does the job!
Wireless WiFi Connection Considerations & Equipment
A possible solution if you are using mobile phones, tablets or laptops wirelessly could be a WiFi booster/repeater. These can be used in conjunction with an external antenna and does exactly as it says on the tin, it repeats the WiFi signal that it picks up through the antenna inside the boat allowing you to connect wirelessly to the marina WiFi.
PC Desktop Computer WiFi Connection Solutions
If you are only running a desktop PC, many of these have WiFi cards installed to the motherboard which have an SMA antenna ports which provides the facility to just purchase an external antenna which can mount to the roof of the boat and plugged directly in to the SMA port at the back of the PC.
Laptop WIFI Connection Solutions
If you are only using a laptop you can purchase USB WiFi network cards which have removable small SMA antennas attached. An option can be to purchase one of these and connect it to an externally mounted (SMA type connection) antenna to gain internet access.
Marina WiFi Hotspot Considerations
Marinas will have bandwidth constraints which can restrict how many people/devices can be connected at any one time. In order to protect this, devices which are dormant can be automatically disconnected after a specified time, this can be frustrating to the user when they have to continually keep logging back in to the network.
If you do spend a considerable amount of time within a marina that offers a WiFi network, here are some points you may want to consider:
- What data packages are available? Will this be sufficient for your needs and can you purchase additional data if required?
- What are the prices for additional data? Sometimes this can be expensive in comparison to your package data cost
- Are you signing up to an annual contract? Monthly plan? Is there benefits to either?
- Consider purchasing a 1 day or minimal package first to conduct a speed test (How to test the speed of your internet connection)
- Before signing up for a lengthy contract ensure you test all the functionality you require (watch films, download photos etc) and also do this at different times of the day and on different days (week-day and weekend)
- Does the entire marina get the same signal speeds or are some moorings better than others?
If you are away from the marina a lot or simply want a more flexible internet option, there are plenty of other solutions available.
Not what you're looking for? Try some other items within this chapter...