Whisper HR is in the South Pacific

Whisper HR

Nov
07

Internet for Yachties

Posted by Mei on November 7, 2016

Mobile Data: Coverage and Perfomance For Yachties - Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean

This page is obviously subject to dramatic change and I will remove the information in a couple of years.

Greece Broadband Internet 2012

We bought both Cosmote and Vodafone prepaid Sims. In July Cosmote prepaid internet was the more expensive option. Topup had to be done in a cosmote shop only. Otherwise you will find that you have put money on a prepaid voice sim. Vodafone is a problem if you don't have a smart phone as they were reluctant to sell their prepaid sim to people who simply had a dongle. That being said it worked fine in my router. We have discovered that vodafone blocks skype.
Coverage on Coast and Marinas 2014 Cosmote Vodafone - NO SKYPE
Lemnos habour Good Good
Sithonia Good Don’t know
Pt Koufos Very patchy Don’t know
Alonissos Good Good
Skopelos (Hora and Glasso) Terrible Good

Italy Broadband Internet 2014

We bought Wind prepaid Sims. This was the best deal in the Mediterranean. 12 GB / month for 20 euros. It worked everywhere. From Calabria, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and all over coastal Sardinia.

Spain Broadband Internet 2014-2015

We bought Vodafone and it was very expensive  about 10 Euro/GB and it also blocked Skype. Orange Mundo was good and cost 15 Euro for 2GB in a month. if you wish to top up before the month is up, you need to put credit on the sim and call 902011900 and request the 2 GB. Worked well everywhere, including the Canary islands  

Portugal 2015

We used MEO and it worked everywhere.

Caribbean 2015

There are a couple of big providers that are found in the Caribbean. Digicel and Lime. Frustratingly their rates are different in every country. Digicel have a pan- Caribbean deal but it’s much more expensive then the local Digicel data sim.

Barbados

We used Flow and it had excellent coverage.

French Islands

All French Islands allow you to use the same sim card. In fact if you have a French sim from France there will be no problem. The sims are very expensive here. We used Digicel here, the coverage was good.

Grenada

We used Digicel here and it worked well.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

The sims were extraordinarily expensive and we didn’t purchase any. There were enough cafes with free WiFi for us to do what we needed.

St Lucia

The marina at Rodney Bay had decent WiFi.

Antigua

We used the marina WiFi at English Harbour

British Virgin Islands

CTC Telecom had the best sim prices and was good everywhere. There was a shop in the marina restaurant complex at Spanish harbour.

US Virgin Island and Puerto Rico

We used AT&T. It was expensive but it worked everywhere. We used the Go Phone prepay sim. You can buy it in Walmart. There are very few AT&T shops. The other provider is T mobile, unfortunately they do not appear to have shops in Puerto Rico or the USVI. T-Mobile has better rates.

Bahamas

Look for the phone tower, the BTC shop is usually under the tower, or nearby. Good and reasonably priced.

Internet Access for Yachties

There are several ways to get the internet onto all your devices. Please be aware that when you buy dongles or any devices that accepts a Sim card may be locked to a mobile phone network. You must get it unlocked or buy an unlocked device if you are intending to use it in some other country. Here are the following options in a random order as it will depend on your situation:

Option A:  Smart Phone Android and Iphone

A local sim card is a necessity to use the data packages. Fortunately in the EU there is no longer any data roaming charges, so any European sim will do. However there is a large disparity in data prices so it pays to find out which country has the best deal. These smart phones can generally act as a hot spot and is extremely useful. Most of the time the smartphone can access the internet fairly efficiently and an external antenna is hardly necessary.

Option B:  Portable Broadband WiFi Router with External Antenna

This unit is tiny and requires a SIM card. You can fit it in your pocket. External aerial ports often come with this device.  This too is specific to 3G or 4G (although some may be backward compatible). An example are the Huawei mobile broadband routers which support 5 devices, also supports an external aerial port (CRC9). The external aerial will extend your broadband range significantly. Some aerials are tuned to 3G or the next G (Australia and USA) frequencies. This aerial does multiband frequencies (useful in Australia) MADB Deck Mount Multiband NEXT G and GSM Mobile Phone Antenna, 6.2 dBi. Another source is  http://www.telcoantennas.com.au/site/ Broadband Routers are a little tricky and you may need help getting it to work. Get the people who sell the sim it to you to install it for you. Take care of the settings especially the APN, Username and Password (sometimes pin number) of the mobile phone network. It is different in every country. Make sure you know how to locate these fields on your router software, so you can change it when you move to a different country.

Option C:  WiFi Leaching

WiFi Leaching is using a restaurant’s complimentary Wifi aboard your yacht. I have found it extremely frustrating to use and consider it VERY INSECURE. However I do use it occasionally, and protect myself by using a VPN service. I chose the fastest VPN service as possible with a large worldwide coverage. I am currently using VyprVPN. I still do the banking through the mobile sim. There is a free VPN service called VPN Gate; it works on Android and Windows. It is an academic project initiated by the Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan. It OK but is a little fiddly. There are big antennas you can buy and routers designed to transmit your leached Wifi throughout the yacht. I have not been able to convince myself this is an economical method. Couple of reasons, it’s quite an expensive piece of kit, also you need to find the bar, buy a drink, etc, sometimes there is no bar. The antenna I use for my portable mobile broadband router is not tuned for WiFi; however we have used it to pick up free WiFi from Marinas. It improves the WiFi reception significantly. Please be aware that the broadband WiFI router cannot pick up WiFi, you need to plug the antenna directly into the WiFi antenna port on your computer (not a common port on laptops). 

Smartphones

We have an Android smartphone and were surprised with our dependence on it. The smart phone is ridiculously useful for travelling
  • Maps / GPS and Internet: For finding out where to go. Trying not to get lost in a foreign city. Knowing your orientation when leaving the Metro. Turn by turn instruction while driving. We use Google Maps and Here We Go.
  • Google Translate will speak and can translate foreign words from a photo.
  • XE and calculator apps: Latest currency exchange data
  • Weather apps like Wind Guru and Windyty for route planning
  • The Samsung note has a stylus and is useful for annotating photos or diagrams. Great for lists.
  • Camera: taking photos of bus timetables, prices of goods etc
  • Email
  • Skype video to show friends what’s around us
  • The Samsung Note can become a WiFi Hotspot and is hugely useful if someone else wants to access the net using another device like a tab or laptop.
  • Booking hotels with Booking.com and Airbnb
  • Using Rome2Rio to find out how to get from A to B using various methods and public transport
  • Using Google flights and Hopper to help price flights
  • Flashlight
  • Reading books