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Inexpensive Internet for Personal Boat

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Ex Member
Ex Member

Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:27pm  

I am a noob and looking to learn, please be gentle....

I am an IT person with some knowledge but totally new to satellite communications.

Question is: Do any inexpensive Satellite Internet (broadband) systems exist for personal maritime use (particularly around Florida)?  "Inexpensive" meaning service plan rates the same as typical residential HughesNet/WildBlue rates (<$100/month) and less than $2k for the equipment.

I understand that a stabilized antenna would be best (but also expensive). I would be happy to find a solution that would require me to aim/tune the antenna for each use and get a 15-30 minutes of access while anchored. In my case, "anchored" means no large position/orientation changes.

Is it true that a residential (fixed location) HughesNet/WildBlue antenna will only work in one small geographic area?


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Eric Johnston
Senior Member

Posts: 2109
Reply #1 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 10:11am  
Seatel is recommended for Maritime satellite communications see: Seatel-Cobham Their antennas have active tracking so they point accurately at the satellite even in rough weather.  The dish is inside a protective radome. TV receive only, 2-way VSAT and Inmarsat services are available. Such tracking antennas are complex and expensive.

Regarding use of domestic WildBlue or Hughesnet terminals I'm sure that the companies would not be happy with the notion of use of such dishes on unstable moored boats as even small movements will cause significant signal level changes.  In the case of WildBlue I suspect there will be problems if you move from one satellite beam coverage to the next (See 45 spot beams Wildblue coverage map). People have been able to use HughesNet (and similar) dishes on very stable moored barges in canals. Note also the successful use of Hughesnet terminals at camp sites, where the dish is mounted either on a ground tripod or parked camper van. Have you considered a tripod mounted dish that could be stood on land adjacent to the boat?

An alternative to satellite communictions is terrestrial WiFI (hot spot) and it is possible that such services might be available in Marinas and similar port areas.

Best regards, Eric
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