Close to harbour it’s possible to hook up to local WiFi network, either with WiFi ready laptop, USB WiFi extender of WiFi extender-router. In all those cases, distance to the nearest base station shouldn’t be more than mile or two. We know, that hi-budget ocean-racing teams use all kind od satellite connections. But are there other broadband solutions for less budget. Answer is: mostly.
So-called USB Internet Dongle (broadband dongle) is provided by all bigger mobile networks and they rely on mobile network technologies. So, almost every time, when You have mobile coverage, You are able to use Internet.
USB Internet dongle is connect to computer via USB port. Noew dongles are USB 2.0, but they are backward compatible with older USB 1,0 standard. It needs additional driver and client software. Luckily this all is on the same USB stick and You don’t need to carry along additional CD.
Depending of signal quality and mobile network service providers infrastructure, the speed can vary great deal. In best case You may able to get 3,5G HDSPA speeds at 7,2 Mbps. When signal strength is lower or mobile infrastructure is not supporting higher speeds, USB dongle speed falls back to next available level. Usually it’s shown also in the application window.
Fallback list (download speeds):
- 7,2 Mbps 3,5 G (HDSPA)
- 2,0 Mbps 3 G (HSUPA)
- 0,5 Mbps 2,75 G (EDGE)
- 0,1 Mbps 2,5 G (GPRS)
Mbps figures are indicative, depends of sub-standards
and specific hardware in use
GPRS and EDGE speeds may seem quite out-dated. I found it still usable, looking weather website, downloading e-mails and uploading blog posts. Indeed, rich content like multimedia files, large images, video streaming etc is no-no.
It’s wise to use 3 Meter (10 ft) long passive USB cable or even longer (even up to 15 meter or 45 ft) amplified USB cable to place dongle as high as possible, to receive quality signal. I experienced situations, when down in the galley I didn’t have any signal, but standing on the deck with my notebook/USB dongle, I was able to use 3,5G speedy connection.
Some tips using internet dongle:
- Disable automatic windows update
- Disable virus database/program updates
- Disable other automatic updaters (iTunes, Adobe, …)
- Disable P2P programs like uTorrent clients
- Configure confirmation requirement before automatic internet connection for e-mail programs, etc
- Use long USB cable to place dongle to highest point possible
- Disconnect after use
In near future G4 technology will allow 100 Mbps speeds, but it requires updating all network infrastructure by service providers and in real life it takes some time to get these speeds.