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Old 08-27-2007, 09:31 PM   #1
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Bearing in mind that finding wireless hotspots can be a frustrating exercise, and in some cases can mean nicking someone's bandwidth, has anyone any experience with the genuine mobile broadband.

Our biggest ISP is promoting a true wireless service whereby you buy a card (basically a mobile/cellphone) plug it into your computer and work with transfer speeds of up to 1.5kbps. The slowest speed of 128mbps is still fairly quick.

The card in Oz through Telstra is $300 and plans start from $17.50 per month for 10 hours use. There is an international roaming option through the 3G network, but it's expensive.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with experience of this, or a similar system, especially as regards the quality of connection/drop-outs etc.

David.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:52 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Auzzee View Post
Bearing in mind that finding wireless hotspots can be a frustrating exercise, and in some cases can mean nicking someone's bandwidth, has anyone any experience with the genuine mobile broadband.

Our biggest ISP is promoting a true wireless service whereby you buy a card (basically a mobile/cellphone) plug it into your computer and work with transfer speeds of up to 1.5kbps. The slowest speed of 128mbps is still fairly quick.

The card in Oz through Telstra is $300 and plans start from $17.50 per month for 10 hours use. There is an international roaming option through the 3G network, but it's expensive.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with experience of this, or a similar system, especially as regards the quality of connection/drop-outs etc.

David.
Yes, we used our friend's system from Verizon this weekend while at the boat. Works just as good as being at home with broadband. Very impressive.
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:22 AM   #3
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The card in Oz through Telstra is $300 and plans start from $17.50 per month for 10 hours use. There is an international roaming option through the 3G network, but it's expensive.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with experience of this, or a similar system, especially as regards the quality of connection/drop-outs etc.

David.
Be very very careful of Telstra / Bigpond's plans, especially the low-usage ones like the $17.50/month plan. They aren't like normal residential broadband (OK, normal except Telstra residential broadband) in that there is no cap on the downloads. Also Telstra are the only ISP in Australia to charge you for uploads as well as downloads, and their charges are VERY high for that -- on the low plans start around $4.50 per MB and even on the high plans are around 10c/MB. Go to whirlpool to check prices, plans and info. http://www.whirlpool.net.au/

If you are on one of those plans and your PC gets hit by a virus or you download a spam worm and someone starts using your machine as a zombie to send out spam, you could be in for a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars for internet usage before you noticed. At least on a capped plan you'd get your internet access throttled after a short while (until you clean the virus) and it wouldn't cost you more. Unfortunately the only company offering capped wireless broadband plans over 3G in Australia are Virgin Mobile -- their deal is pretty good, for $80/month you get your phone, unlimited local + STD calls plus 4GB/month of downloads on a capped plan (meaning it can't cost you more even if you get virused).

However, there are currently 2 types of 3G coverage in Australia -- Telstra's and everyone else's. Optus is building and rolling out a nationwide 3G network atm but don't expect their coverage (or Vodafone or Virgin, who use the Optus network) to be similar to Telstra NextG, especially outside capital cities.

So at this stage I'd advise a cautious wait and see approach. Virgin's plan is by far the best deal at the moment, but they don't have the coverage of Telstra. It's catching up, though.

Del
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Old 08-28-2007, 01:14 AM   #4
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My boss has the nextG card for his laptop and he has a boat (stinkpot). He reports that he gets reasonable broadband reception almost anywhere that he has mobile phone reception (based out of Hobart, so D'Entrecasteaux Channel mostly). For what it is worth, the cost of using the Telstra/nextG card when overseas is bloody expensive.
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:10 AM   #5
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Here has been my experience, but keep in mind that the US is quite different in many ways from the rest of the world, though each year there are more similarities than differences.

since our return to the US we have had a Verizon cell phone. Regardless of plan (and they change the "plans" on a regular and frequent basis), they offer unlimited free phone use after 9 pm and before 6 am weekdays, and unlimited free phone use on weekends and holidays. I bought a "mobile office" pack for my phone, and could connect it, as a modem, to my computer. With the phone service came access to the Internet. Until early this year, this was our connection to the Internet while on the boat. Some marinas offered free WiFi, and when I could, I would use that connection because then I didn't have to stay up as late to get my Internet fix for the day.

One day, suffering from a few too many late nights, I finally bought Verizon's "air card", wireless connection to the internet with true broadband service. It is not as fast as direct landline cable connection, but not as slow as the 14 to 144 kbps that the cell phone as a modem worked. It is nice, and in May/June I put in a modification to the house desktop computer so it can be used there as well. I get all this for USD $50/month, unlimited use. The air card cost, I believe, $150 and there was a rebate offer - it might have been received, but we've been away from the US for 3 months now, so I can't check my mail for how much that reduced the cost.

I like the air card, though it is pretty much limited to the US. Not a problem, and when we're away for long periods, as this summer, I can put the plan on suspension for a nominal fee. Verizon has recently offered dual-use phones with CDMA and GSM connection capability, making it usable overseas. Problem is the phone is dreadfully expensive (from my viewpoint), and the minute charges outside the US are so high that it is difficult for it to be justified for anything other than business (expensed) use.

BTW, back in '97/'98 in Malaysia, one could use a cell phone there as a modem, just as I used it in the US, using a local Malaysian phone. I think it was reasonably inexpensive, though quite slow. I can't give you a lot of information about that since I didn't take advantage of it (we had done without a telephone for so long by then that embracing cell phone technology didn't get our attention until we returned to the US in 2003). People who used it said it was slow, but quite good for sending/receiving emails.

Long ramble, now to cut to the chase.

As soon as I bought the air card, which plugs into the PCMCIA slot on my laptop, they came out with a USB connection, which would have been preferable. Many new laptops have up to 3 USB connections, and I have a powered USB hub that adds another 4 USB connections. I can't justify ditching the PCMCIA card for at least a year or two, but I suggest that you do some research to be sure you will have the best technology. AUD $400 is quite high for the card, IMO.

Also, there are more and more WiFi connections in/near marinas that are either provided by the marina for free or are reasonably priced. - though not as many as we would have liked. One marina in Germany, for example, offered 24-hour connection for 7 Euros per day or 15 Euros per week - the weekly rate was quite reasonable, though one rarely stays in one of these marinas for more than a day or two. Lots of places, though, we could find no internet connection at all.

FWIW.

Jeanne
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:48 AM   #6
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We've had only wireless broadband internet access since selling our house in July 06. The plan is with Sprint using their EVDO high speed network. Palm Treo "phone as a modem" $39/mo 2.4 Mbps, unlimited access, seems as fast as the high speed DSL we had at the house. I plug the phone into the laptop via the same USB connect for hot-sinking the palm and literally the phone becomes a modem. I almost got the plan that Verizon had for the palm, but at the time it wasn't "unlimited" and it cost more and it wasn't as fast. Hubby hooks his computer up to mine on our little network and we can both surf the web or download files or whatever. If someone calls while the modem is on the high speed network, then it rings through and I can pick up. If I've been dropped to the low speed network (it happens on weekends most, so it seems that when people are talking on the phone a lot the high speed data network gets moooshed...) then the phone doesn't ring and the person goes to voice mail. There's an after market software that lets one both make calls and surf the web at the same time with the Treo, but I don't have it.

The palm also has its own little internet access if I'm not near the computer, but it isn't as speedy as just using the phone as a modem. The data $39/mo is separate from the cel phone plan. My plan has unlimited incoming calls and 300 minutes/mo outgoing for another $39/mo. I never use all the outgoing minutes. When I'm going to make a long call, I call up our server which is hosted remotely for us, it recognizes my phone number, calls me back, gives me an outside line on the pbx system and I make my call at one cent/minute instead.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:00 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone who has responded so far...Just to add to the mix, I wonder if anyone has tried using their Iridium satphone and data cable to retrieve email and surf the net?

David.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:11 AM   #8
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Slightly off topic but, I believe, worth mentioning is that in Denmark many harbours have NoPayNet. A completely free wireless internet at broadband speeds. I tried it in Faaborg a couple of months ago and it was great.

Yes, a little off topic but worthmentioning in the hope that other harbours will follow suit. It definately generates business.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:18 AM   #9
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Thanks to everyone who has responded so far...Just to add to the mix, I wonder if anyone has tried using their Iridium satphone and data cable to retrieve email and surf the net?

David.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:32 AM   #10
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David,

Yep, we used Iridium for e-mail while on long passages or in remote area's. The e-mailadress was only known to family and friends (so no spam). Later we used shareware software (I think mailwasher) to preselect the messages we wanted to download right away.

Costs were less then $1/minute. Sending en retrieving e-mail took 1-3 minutes, including a small grib-file from the Maxsea server. Very reliable; connection everywhere.

SSP+ Pactor would have been cheaper, though. But we already had the Iridium data-kit and for the $1200 for a pactor modem + yearly costs of sailmail you can mail a lot through Iridium....

When anchored we used the internetcafes to send and retrieve mail and update the website.

Cheers,

Jan
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Old 09-02-2007, 12:40 AM   #11
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A surprising number of cruisers don't know that 'Airmail', the programme they use with their SSB to get Sailmail or, for hams, Winlink e-mail, also has a Telnet client. This means it can use an internet connection if one is available. So if you have access to WiFi, or a slow phone or satellite connection to the net, it works great, and you only need to use one programme for all your mail. Of course, no attachments other than weather files are allowed, but for those you can keep a separate e-mail account for when you have high-speed access, ashore perhaps. Even more usefully, if you install Airmail on to a USB drive, instead of a hard disk, you can take it ashore with you, plug it in at any internet cafe and still get your mail in the same inbox.

Finally, as in our case, we have a very fast, but very expensive, Inmarsat Fleet F33 satellite system. $US3-50 per Mb download. However, using Sailmail over Airmail we can use the F33 instead of the SSB, and as the file sizes are so small, it takes us a month to download 1Mb. Don't forget however, to turn off all automatic updates. And you'd be surprised how many of those are residing on your computer. You don't want Adobe background downloading a 45Mb update at $3-50 a Mb!!!

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Old 09-07-2007, 09:25 PM   #12
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for offshore email we use

a 9505A sat fone and a program from

www.ocens.net

we can d load 10 emails in 1- 1.5 minutes.

same w uploads

great weater too!
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:13 PM   #13
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A naive question but could a WIFI be hooked up to the SSB antenna?
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Old 09-18-2007, 09:56 AM   #14
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Hi David; I got into one hell of a blue with Telstra with their Maxon NextG. The drop out rate was very high with other software issues with Maxon's software that I couldn't get resolved with by Telstra or Maxon. I was under a 2 year contract but after threats of legal action from me the contract was cancelled with no fee. Advise --- be very careful. Any verbal from Telstra is worth NOTHING.

Regards

Peter
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