Coast of Maine - is a USB modem dongle the answer? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 07-20-2011 Thread Starter
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Coast of Maine - is a USB modem dongle the answer?

Ahoy

Sitting in the library in NE Harbor Maine - I love libraries. But, wouldn't it be nice to have a little USB stick that I could stick in my computer and get wifi on the boat where it is cool rather than have to walk up to this beautiful library where it is so hot!

Caveats:
  • We are in the USA only 60 or 70 days a year
  • Roaming charges make using our Canadian plans prohibitive
  • For phones we use a pay as you go Tracfone

Polite suggestions please (Linda's writing means she really needs to stay connected - me, I'm just a social network junkie)

Thanks all

BTW - our cat (not us) was featured in this month's Blue Water Sailing magazine

Linda, Rik and Captain Hook
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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The cellphone service in Maine is put to shame by most 3rd-world countries--its a disgrace.

We had some luck with the Verizon mifi, but there are dead spots.
We are on a 2 year contract--3Gb per month for $35, and pretty happy with Verizon outside of Maine. They have some prepaid plans, but I haven't researched them

Forget AT&T.
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post #3 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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Rik,

We used our 3G (cell network) Ipad in most places in Maine in June. It didn't work in some places, but more than I expected. If there was a town of any size, it usually worked. We pay $20/mo for the minimum plan with Verizon and don't come even close to using the alloted bandwidth. We use it alot. If the 3G plans will work in Canada as well, you would have a real winner. Add the inexpensive apps for charting, anchor alarms, etc. and you would never go back.

I don't think a wifi reciever will help on the boat, as you need to be close enough to a wifi router to pick up the signal and they don't broadcast very far.


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post #4 of 17 Old 07-20-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info - I was sitting by a person last year in Belfast who had a USB modem dongle and they said it worked fine for them - but I have no idea which one it was. They bought the USB modem and paid $50.00 a month for any month they used it - and for them it was two months a year. $100.00 for the summer sounds good.

Rik

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post #5 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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Read this thread for some info on long range wifi.

Long Range WiFi -- Posting right now using "long range" wireless
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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is the issue you dont have a built in wifi on your computer? wifi is different then 3g,4g,4glte,ect.. that sounds like what ur friend was using in Belfast.
are you in a marina? if so ask if they have hotspot coverage where u are or if long range ant. would work.
as mentioned, there are a few carriers that have data plans and u can tether ur laptop to ur cell phone-thats what i do. no contracts-tmobile has the highest data that i know, at 5G/mo. sprint is the other (at 2G/mo.i think) ask around for ur area.

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post #7 of 17 Old 07-20-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks again

More info from me:

Have a laptop with wifi capabilities
Have an iPhone but our carrier is a Canadian carrier and the "roaming" charges are out to lunch
I have a Nanostation2 long range antenna that works in harbors for picking up open wifi signals

But, would rather have a "thing" I can just plug in and connect - but - only being down here for a limited time, I do not want to sign up for a 2 year plan and pay each month when 20 of the 24 months we would not even be here.

Rik

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post #8 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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I think what you are talking about is a cellular or wireless modem - using the cell phone network, not wifi. Here's an article with some pretty good info on the various options.

How to Buy a Wireless Modem | PCMag.com
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post #9 of 17 Old 07-20-2011
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Wow, interesting to hear folks who are cruisng criticize Maine for not being connected enough!

If you cannot get a signal, you can always turn on your TV

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post #10 of 17 Old 07-21-2011
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I don't have a good answer for Rik. I've found ATT pretty spotty in the Mt Desert area (at least last year). Like Minnewaska, we use an IPAD, and I found myself walking to libraries, marina's, etc. to get a WiFi connection if I wanted to download a newspaper or get email with significant attachments. There are lots of options for high powered WiFi, many of which are extensively reviewed in other threads, but I cannot speak from experience on how well they work in the area you are cruising. As an aside, I had a NE Harbor flashback reading Rik's post....wish I was there. I believe the Chamber of Commerce has WiFi in that building on the hill right on the harbor, but I think I remember a charge for the service...not sure.
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