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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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  #1  
Old 06-23-2009
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Smile Wireless cards on the Chesapeake

Does anyone boat on the Chesapeake and use a wireless card (i.e. the kind you get through cellular providers) for their laptop computers? What kind of coverage are people getting in the upper Chesapeake? Hell, if it works even moderately well, I may never work on land again!
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Old 06-23-2009
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I've been sailing (and living aboard) with a Sierra Wireless 860 card on AT&T for 3 years. The card works very well. I've had 3G throughout the upper Bay and EDGE or 3G from Deale south to Norfolk.

The quad-band coverage has allowed me to hook-up (at varying and generally high cost) in the Bahamas, the BVI, USVI, England, Northern Europe, and Scandanavia.

I dropped the card a few days ago and it died. I found another one on E-Bay and am waiting eagerly for it. My understanding (no personal knowledge) is that the newer cards (Sierra Wireless 881 and various USB dongles) don't perform quite as well. YMMV.

I'm planning to stick with the 860 until the Novatel MiFi is out for GSM.

Verizon seems to have the market locked for the RV crowd. High-speed coverage is definitely better throughout the mid-US. AT&T is as good or better in the major sailing centers of the US East Coast, and has the advantage (with the right hardware) of international compatibility. I really like pulling into port or getting off a plane to have phone and Internet working without grief.
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Old 06-23-2009
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I'm in verizon and anchored at st Michaels harbor and it's working. When we were at Great Oaks at fairlee MD it was dead. I"m not happy with verizon anyway so that just gives me more reason to cancel it.
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Old 06-23-2009
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I tether my Verizon PDA to my laptop and have gotten coverage everywhere from Rock Hall to Cape Charles. It's a great thing to have for monitoring the weather radar while out on the water.
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Old 06-23-2009
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Excellent. I have an existing contract with Verizon for my regular cellphones. I've used the tether before, but I think that in the long-run I need both cellphone and data simultaneously. For the most part, I think that I need it closer to shorelines.

T37, I didn't even think about the benefit of logging into live radar. Genius!
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Old 06-25-2009
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We keep our boat in Deltaville and had Nextel phones when we first started frequenting the area. We quickly leaned that if you wanted any coverage of any kind, you needed to be on Verizon. No other service had reliable coverage in the area. As soon as we could we switched and now have cell coverage most of the time we're on the boat.

My assumption has been that if we were to get wireless broadband, that Verizon would be a good choice based on coverage at home and where we usually boat.

Can anyone confirm or deny that assumption?
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Old 06-26-2009
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We've got AT&T cellphones and coverage is pretty good all the way up & down the Ches Bay. Tried their wirelss card just last month and it was pretty dissappointing, I only got 2-3 bars of coverage in the exact same spots where the cellphone showed 4-5. So now we're using a 2-yr-old Motorola RAZR 3G phone and tethering, its a little slow but very reliable. And even if we're using the phone online, a call will ring through, put it on speakerphone and you can do voice and data at the same time.
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Old 07-04-2009
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I'm pleased to report that I ended up getting a Verizon UM175 USB modem for $60/5GB/month and I'm pretty pleased so far with performance and coverage. Denise ... I looked at the Verizon coverage map and Great Oaks is one of the relatively few places that coverage shows as weak/or none in the upper Chesapeake. - David
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