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Hi All,

What I got from previous posts is Verizon is the way to go for East Coast coverage. But what I haven't found is somebody's experience using it while cruising and more specifically how far out can you go without losing signal.

I have never sailed the Atlantic coast before. My plan is to sail from Florida back to Canada. However I need to have Cell/Data connectivity all the time preferred for work, RDP back to my servers. A friend sailor says he gets signal out in the middle of Lake Ontario 40 kms (24 miles). But I can't assume I would have the same generous signal out on the Atlantic Ocean while I cruise up. Would I be nieve to think if I sailed 5-10 miles off shore all the way up that I would have connectivity? And if I ran into pockets of poor signal does anybody know what areas I need to plan for where I need to sail closer to shore?

Thanks All!
CyberD
 

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You can get cell up to 12-14 miles from the closest tower, but the tower may be inland several miles.
 

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This is a question on the theme: How long is a rope?

Some things to consider:
- what standard are you intending to use / using? They all have different radio range. (familiy is large: AMPS, D-AMPS, IS95, ... GSM, WCDMA, LTE ..)
- carrier frequency? The lower the better.
- in most areas the antennas are directed to where the traffic is. Usually not on the sea - but it happens. If you find sites/antennas close to the coast, then the direction is very important.

Aspects like these might be difficult to find out. But quite important if you want to uphold a connection.

Generallyt speaking, it is difficult on a flat coast, cellular is unlikely to have any coverage. Archipelago is much more likely, and lakes are nearly for sure.

For work - maybe you should look into alternatives. VHF, SSB, Satellites.
Don't forget ham radio, may require some extra work though.

/J
 

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Chastened
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You are simply not going to have coverage "all the time" that you're sailing up the coast.

There are signal boosters that you can buy, that RV'ers use. I think you'll be able to have frequent service, but I highly doubt that you can maintain 100% connectivity, without getting caught in near-shore breakers at some points along the way.
 

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I like the how long is a rope analogy. Bottom line, when you are in range of a tower you will have service. As you are transiting the EC you have lots of population so should be lots of towers. Get a booster!
 

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A booster would definitely help, and if you take the ICW as far as you can, you'll probably have constant coverage there. But offshore? You are certain to have some times when you are out of range.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Unless you're going out to the Gulf Stream or beyond it, you'll pretty much get coverage. In my trips, I never went more than a couple of miles offshore up and down the coast and only recall it being spotty in parts of Georgia and between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
 

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10 - 12 miles from the tower, line of sight....not considering terrain, noise, propagation and the like.

A lot of variables, but you should be good almost the entire EC and staying 5-8 miles off shore....minus some sparse parts of GA/NC
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I've received clear cell reception with good transmission 15 miles out but I don't think that's standard. I wouldn't rely on a cell phone anyway if going offshore. Along the ICW I have always had a signal but suppose there must be some dead spots just as there are along roadways.
 

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Recently we sailed from Wilmington, NC to Morehead City, NC. No or poor service along the middle of the trip. Verizon service, no booster, iphone. I wonder what you get from the boosters?
 

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Using the decent ones, like Wilson, will usually extend range a bit. I've found in my car, anyway, that it can hold onto a signal about a mile farther than without, sometimes more. Usually enough to get a text in or out, even if not enough for data/calls. Some areas are better, some it won't help. They aren't cheap, but they do work well, as long as you don't over-expect things. It's not going to give you instant full service in every dead zone, of course. But they do help those fringe areas.
 

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Boosters will help ensure that your signal gets the connection to the tower, but only if you are within range of the tower. Each tower (cell, antenna, blade, whatever) makes a finite number of connections and they may grab the ten or fifty or hundred strongest signals, and the rest get cut off when they hit capacity. A booster helps ensure you are in the strongest signals and not dropped in favor of someone else.

But as to range...there are limits designed into each carrier's software, which they will not discuss. Typically they cut off signals from phones more than 16 miles away, regardless of strength.

A typical cell phone without a booster or external gain antenna isn't likely to make it at 16 miles though.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I need to have Cell/Data connectivity all the time preferred for work, RDP back to my servers.
Have you sailed offshore? Productivity is reduced on a moving platform. Everything takes longer.

In addition, you aren't just talking about getting a signal but getting a relatively high rate data signal. I don't see you carrying RDP over cellular even near shore coastal. Have you looked at the data consumption and the impact your cellular plan?

Don't forget ham radio, may require some extra work though.
You may not use ham radio for financial gain. Period. Dot.

You are simply not going to have coverage "all the time" that you're sailing up the coast.
True.

A booster would definitely help, and if you take the ICW as far as you can, you'll probably have constant coverage there. But offshore? You are certain to have some times when you are out of range.
There are two related issues. First is basic coverage. For example, much of the Carolinas ICW is poorly covered regardless of carrier. Where there is coverage data rates are low. Ten miles off the NJ coast has been faster for me on AT&T and Verizon than on the North Carolina ICW. My needs are for e-mail and texts so I just tack in to a good signal, upload and download, then head out again. Remote desktop sharing is a whole different kettle of fish.

Carriers are using microcells and sophisticated antenna tuning to put signal where there are users. Boaters in most areas don't get accounted for. I used to be able to stream Netflix down the Chesapeake from Annapolis to Norfolk. Now I have to use DVDs and MP4s. Life is hard. *grin* The point is that the cellular companies are quite understandably trying to maximize their return on antenna sites that are increasingly expensive, so they steer their signals to best effect.
 

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When we anchor at Ship Island, 12 miles from shore (and about that far from the nearest cell tower), we have no coverage. Then as soon as we up anchor and start to head in, our cell phones go crazy beeping with all of the messages and calls we have missed. :D
 

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Maybe it is Inmarsat? One of the satellite carriers is offering a new fairly high-speed service with cheaper equipment and about a buck a minute for data. Which IS cheap, it is what plain long distance roaming cellular voice calls cost only 15 years ago.

Buck a minute? Cheap enough if you NEED data.
 
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