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Mobile broadband
Saturday,16 March, 2013
6:53 pm
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We are in the process of migrating from house to liveaboard, and internet access is one of the most important requirements, as we do a lot of our work online. We won’t have a power land line to begin with, so whatever solution we go with initially would need to be quite frugal on power.

I’ve currently got a mobile phone on 3 on an all-you-can-eat tariff but it does not allow tethering – I wish I had gone with their One tariff that apparently does allow tethering with unlimited data allowance, but I’m stuck with what I’ve got for another 11 months. As an interim solution, I’ve just bought a 5 pounds a month add-on that gives 1GB a month tethering allowance – not much but it should allow us to send and receive emails whenever we need to (remembering to disable automatic downloads of Windows updates that would bust the limit pretty quickly!). Actually I bought the add-on a couple of days ago and it is still not working despite four calls to their technical support – it’s been escalated but I’ve now got to wait up to 72 hours for it to be looked at! Still, I’m assuming they will get it sorted eventually as 3 seems to give the best signal in our area.

Anyway, we need a better and more permanent solution for internet access. Getting access just for our single laptop would be OK to begin with, but we wouldn’t like to get stuck with a long contract that could only do one device – I’d eventually like to get iPlayer going with a smart TV and other extravagances when/if we get a powered land line.

A 15GB monthly allowance might be OK for us, but there might be some months when we would exceed this, so ideally we would prefer an unlimited tariff if possible.

There’s also 4G coming, and 3 have said that customers will not be charged extra for it. So it does not seem like a good time to start a new 24 month contract where we would probably be stuck on 3G for 2 years.

It’s all a bit confusing.

What are other forum members using?

 

 

Saturday,16 March, 2013
7:42 pm
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I use a dongle from Three. I used to use their PAYG service which costs £25 for 7GB (or for 30 days – whichever comes first). With a dongle for a single laptop you won’t need 230v power on your boat providing you get a 12v adaptor to power your laptop. The dongle works fine, providing it’s placed outside the boat. When I first moved on board I just dangled it out of the window protected by a plastic bag. It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing so now I have a slightly more appealing metal pole attached to the roof. The USB extension cable runs from my laptop, out through the vent and then up the pole where it is secured and protected from the rain by a plastic cover (actually the bottom half of a litre squash bottle inverted).

I have a Three dongle on contract now. It costs me £18 (I think) for 15GB per month. I also now use a WiFi setup, but of course I need a 230v supply to power it.

If you read through the case study section of the site you will see that most liveaboard boaters use a Three dongle.

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Sunday,17 March, 2013
8:14 am
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Hi

 

We started out with a PAYG 3 Dongle, but at I think £10 for 1g or £15 for 3g it was quite expensive for what you get, although it did get us from land to water and give us an idea of our usage. Also, the reception wasn’t always brilliant, even when balancing the laptop on a pile of books near the window, dangling the dongle out of the window or getting cold in the cratch.

 

We ended up getting a 3 Mi-Fi, a sort of mobile router thing I think and 15g a month for £18.99 that included the Mi-Fi for free that I think costs £100+ to buy outright. Whilst this was at the expense of a 24 month contract, it suited our needs and delighted with it. What is also useful is that multiple items can connect to it simultaneously so our phone tends to connect to this for a broadband connection when the phone struggles inside a steel box i.e. a narrowboat. 

 

Usage wise, keeps us going for a couple of hours a day on the Internet with the laptop, downloading maybe half a dozen films a month from BBC’s iPlayer,  watching some live streaming footy, the F1 Grand Prix this morning, 3 or 4 hours of Skype a week to friends/family and pretty much most of our phone use whilst in the boat for the aforementioned reason.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Keith

Enjoying the Dream ( Keith & Nicky http://narrowboatboysontour.bl…..gspot.com/ )

Monday,18 March, 2013
4:05 pm
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Poole, Dorset, UK
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During our trip up the Llangollen last year, I used my Nokia N8 on 3 running an application from JoikuSoft which turns it into a WiFi hotspot.

As my latest tariff, a twelve month contract, gives unlimited ‘all you can eat’ data, it would be perfect for streaming video etc. and cost a measly £20 a month with 5000 minutes 3 to 3, 5000 texts and 200 mins, any network.

The coverage wasn’t brilliant, but it was good enough to be able to keep the family up to date on FB as well as to write my blog, albeit a little sporadically.

It seems to me that people are being fleeced for data on it’s own. I’ve not tried my SIM in a Dongle or MiFi, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work unless the sneaky gits have put a tweak in to stop that).

Cheers,

Blakie Smile

P.S. take a look at Jools’ thread on data theft, that might raise further ideas / issues.

Poole, Dorset … not a canal in sight, but I’m not going to be here for long … Anupadin

Monday,18 March, 2013
6:03 pm
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Thanks for the suggestions.

> you won’t need 230v power on your boat providing you get a 12v adaptor to power your laptop

I hadn’t thought of that. There seem to be a few car voltage converters about – are there any that are particularly recommended for laptop use? I also saw a comment that some converters can power a laptop but will not actually charge the laptop’s own batteries.

Is there a significant power saving in using a voltage converter compared with using the laptop’s mains power brick via the inverter?

Monday,18 March, 2013
6:06 pm
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I understand, and this is from Tim Davis who’s written the articles on the site about electrical systems and solar panels, that by running anything through an inverter you use an additional 30%

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Monday,18 March, 2013
8:39 pm
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Get a Three MiFi off eBay for about £50 & put your existing unlimited data sim in it and it will work, you can then set up a wireless network that at least 4 users can use at once. I did this with my unlimited data sim from a phone & it works great, either get a small inverter to keep it charged or plug it in if you use a n inverter from your battery,it uses very little power & I never turn it off.

Tuesday,19 March, 2013
8:21 am
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wyndhamshire said
Thanks for the suggestions.

> you won’t need 230v power on your boat providing you get a 12v adaptor to power your laptop

I hadn’t thought of that. There seem to be a few car voltage converters about – are there any that are particularly recommended for laptop use? I also saw a comment that some converters can power a laptop but will not actually charge the laptop’s own batteries.

Is there a significant power saving in using a voltage converter compared with using the laptop’s mains power brick via the inverter?

Maplins have a range of suitable converters to run a variety of low voltage items. I use them for laptops, radios, and my tv speaker system.

I very rarely have to run the inverter.

 

Ken 

Tuesday,19 March, 2013
10:32 am
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> by running anything through an inverter you use an additional 30%

Wow, that’s quite a lot.

 

> Maplins have a range of suitable converters to run a variety of low voltage items.

Thanks, I’ll check out Maplins.

 

> Get a Three MiFi off eBay for about £50 & put your existing unlimited data sim in it and it will work

Interesting to know that. I guess the tethering block is built into the phone software. But maybe they’ll eventually spot a large increase in data usage or the type of data.

 

> either get a small inverter to keep it charged or plug it in if you use a n inverter from your battery

By “small inverter” do you mean a DC voltage converter like the ones from Maplin mentioned above?

 

I have been doing some more rummaging around, and it seems you can get 3G routers that you can plug a 3G USB dongle into, giving a WiFi connection or an ethernet connection – such as

http://www.expertreviews.co.uk…..ongle-dock

It seems quite flexible. I haven’t got much of a feel for how much power WiFi uses, but it strikes me that if the router could be powered by a DC voltage converter and the ethernet connection used on occasions when only a laptop was in use then this might save power compared to using the WiFi all the time.

Is anyone successfully using a 3G router ?

 

Tuesday,19 March, 2013
10:36 am
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wyndhamshire said
 

Is anyone successfully using a 3G router ?

 

Yes, I am. It’s  an Edimax N150 wireless 3G compact router and it works faultlessly. It’s running off the 230v supply at the moment though. I haven’t looked for a DC converter for it.

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Tuesday,19 March, 2013
12:55 pm
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Thanks. The TP-link range seem to get quite good reviews on amazon.co.uk aswell, for example TP-Link TL-MR3220 150Mbps 3G/4G Wireless N CABLE Router.

I noticed from the “Frequently Bought Together” section on Amazon, that many buyers of 3G routers also buy:

  •  Unlocked Huawei E353 High Speed 3G/4G Dongle 21.1Mbps HSPA+ by Huawei
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Ready to Go 3GB Preloaded Data Sim for 3G Mobile Devices

The title of the router and the above dongle both mention “4G” – does this mean that they will work with Three’s 4G dongles when the become available?

Also, I can see that the unlocked dongle could be a good choice, but the SIM above just seems to give 3 months of 3GB data – what happens after the 3 months? I would have thought that you would just buy a SIM-only package directly from Three with ongoing data allowance and pop the SIM into the dongle. Is this some way of avoiding a lengthy contract with Three by buying a new preloaded SIM every 3 months?

 

Tuesday,19 March, 2013
10:33 pm
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Hi. I have used a Teltonika RUT-105 3G router (http://www.3grouterstore.co.uk…..0RUT_2d105). I have always run it directly off the 12 volt socket instead of the 240 volt power adaptor with no problems. Seems like I am making a power saving by not using the inverter. I use an external 6db gain marine antenna. I don’t travel full tiime but where I have been travelling, I have nearly always had some kind of internet coverage. Sometimes GPRS but mostly HSDPA. I have often not even had a phone signal but had 3G coverage. The external antenna makes all the difference. 

 

Wednesday,20 March, 2013
6:12 am
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Wyndhamshire said 
 

> either get a small inverter to keep it charged or plug it in if you use a n inverter from your battery

By “small inverter” do you mean a DC voltage converter like the ones from Maplin mentioned above?

        An Inverter converts 12v (or 24v) DC to 240v AC to run mains powered equipment.

        A Converter converts 12v DC to DC (typically 5v to 20v DC) to run small DC equipment either above or below 12v)

        A mobile phone uses around 5v and a large laptop around 19v DC.  

Ken

 

 

Wednesday,20 March, 2013
11:11 am
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> I have used a Teltonika RUT-105 3G router (http://www.3grouterstore.co.uk…..0RUT_2d105)

Thanks for the suggestion. It looks like it has been superseded by the Teltonika RUT500. It looks like you plug your SIM into it rather than a 3G dongle, so I guess I would have to go for a SIM-only contract with three.

> I use an external 6db gain marine antenna.

Do all antennas and 3G routers have standard connectors, or do you have to be careful that the antenna you buy has the the same connector as the router?

(Sorry for all the questions, but there’s quite a lot to learn!)

 

Friday,22 March, 2013
8:54 am
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wyndhamshire said
> I have used a Teltonika RUT-105 3G router (http://www.3grouterstore.co.uk…..0RUT_2d105)

Thanks for the suggestion. It looks like it has been superseded by the Teltonika RUT500. It looks like you plug your SIM into it rather than a 3G dongle, so I guess I would have to go for a SIM-only contract with three.

Until you contract runs out, just use the same SIM in the router. After the contract runs out, re-negotiate a better deal. I ended up with 5GB for £8 on Three. Remember, the 3G routers are SIM free. It doesn’t matter what SIM you use. 

> I use an external 6db gain marine antenna.

Do all antennas and 3G routers have standard connectors, or do you have to be careful that the antenna you buy has the the same connector as the router?

I think it is called an SMA connector. They just screw onto the router. I have yet to properly install my marine antenna but when I do, I will need to cut off the SMA connector to get the cable routed though the roof lining etc. but its easy enough to fit another SMA connector to the cable. You can buy connectors in Maplin etc.

(Sorry for all the questions, but there’s quite a lot to learn!)

 

Sunday,24 March, 2013
3:57 pm
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I’m thinking about getting a Samsung galaxy note with three’s one plan that allows tethering. I’m going to be working from my boat for part of the week so require a reliable Internet connection. I noticed that external aerials were mentioned. Could anyone tell me where I could buy one that doesn’t cost a fortune. 

Sunday,24 March, 2013
7:28 pm
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Michael Peters said
I’m thinking about getting a Samsung galaxy note with three’s one plan that allows tethering. I’m going to be working from my boat for part of the week so require a reliable Internet connection. I noticed that external aerials were mentioned. Could anyone tell me where I could buy one that doesn’t cost a fortune. 

Hi. I don’t know much about Samsung Galaxy’s but I found this one for you on YouTube. If you can get the patch lead between the Galaxy and the standard SME (sorry, I said SMA above!). I can only see the right patch lead available from Australia. Easier to get an external antenna for an iPhone.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..bhlKYaMAr4

 

This antenna is a good price..

http://www.3grouterstore.co.uk…..ntena.html

 

Hope this helps

 

Rob Surprised

Monday,25 March, 2013
4:55 am
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wyndhamshire said

Do all antennas and 3G routers have standard connectors, or do you have to be careful that the antenna you buy has the the same connector as the router?

  SMA are not the only connectors commonly in use. Huawei’s Mi-Fi E5332 which is a common unit, use the TS9 connector on it’s external aerial socket.   So it pays to check which type of connector is required before ordering.  They are not all the same!        

       

Monday,1 April, 2013
2:01 pm
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Hi,

I subscribed to this livingonanarrowboat newletter ages ago but have never visited this group before.  I use a ‘3 phone, with all you can eat data’.  I was able to use my phone as a hotspot with my 7 inch tablet but not able to use my laptop.  Apparently there is some form of a glitch and some  people are able to use the phone as a hotspot with all you can eat data but others cannot.  The operator at 3 told me, well he asked me if I had tried and I said “yes” .  He said that you were not supposed to but he had had other phone calls from customers that could.

 

I ended up paying another £5 per month ontop of my bill to get access for my Laptop.  I only ever  use it now and again but I bought the River and Canal Rescue ‘ Waterways guide’ that you install to your laptop.

 

I also have the River and Canal App that uses GPS to tell you where you are.

 

I think that if you try your phone with someone elses small tablet you may find that you can access the internet and get all you can eat data; then you can link the tablet  to your television  to watch ITV player. It works  well.

 

DiLaugh

Monday,1 April, 2013
3:08 pm
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I got an adaptor for my external antenna from Panorama. The antenna was SME whilst the T Mobile Wireless Pointer (WiFi) had a push on antenna connector.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

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