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Rosslynx
Rosslynx

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 12:03am

Post Subject: Internet and HDTV aboard a marina moored narrowboat

We are buying a 70ft narrowboat which will be a liveaboard moored at Roydon Marina on the Essex/Hertfordshire border. We would like the following – a) A good reliable internet connection (preferably WiFi on board) with enough capacity to download e-mails, a few HD movies and surf the Web. (Our current average usage on land is around 15-20 Gb per month). b) A good reliable HD TV service/selection. We currently have on land a Virgin HD+ (inc TiVo) system plus a good package for films, etc. However this relies on the fibre optic virgin network which unfortunately is not an option at the Marina. We have read lots of past blogs (some quite old) about this subject, but much of the advice either contradicts other postings or is now out of date, because of the introduction of new packages, roll out of 4G, etc. Where we will be moored for at least 45+ weeks a year has good mobile reception (inc 4G) and very good sightlines to the Southeast (Satellite locations) We have also read about some very expensive installations (£2000+) involving marine autotrack satellite systems and some very inexpensive options (Freeview, Dish in a briefcase, etc.) but again most of these posts are from 2,3 or more years ago. Although we will be moored on a very quiet Marina, we still have considerations regarding “roll” as we walk about the boat and how serious a problem that might be. Good quality fast internet and a good selection of TV channels is important to us so we have a reasonable budget. If we could take our Virgin system with us on board we would, but unfortunately we can’t. Does anyone have any up to date solutions or suggestions?

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:11am

Post Subject: Internet and HDTV aboard a marina moored narrowboat

So much depends on local conditions and reception. As some HDTV channels are now available on Freeview a very cheap solution would be a directional TV aerial, possibly an 12V aerial amplifier, and a Freeview 12V TV. However I suspect that you have your sights on something larger than this and may possibly have a pure sine wave inverter (and sufficient electrical capacity) to go down the Sky/Freesat route. I understand that the smaller the dish the less it is affected by the boat rolling. I am not even going to try to recommend anything to do with the internet because of your requirement for such a high data rate for downloading HD films. My experience with 3G and 1 doubt 4G will be nay different is that even with a strong signal the download speed is heavily restricted during certain times of the day and I think this is caused by the number of users accessing a mast at the same time (3 network). I find 3G is perfectly usable for day to day work over the vast majority of the system. The reception would be improved to some degree if I got a long active USB lead and mounted the dongle externally on a mast. Alternatively you can get external aerials for some dongles. Please will other readers post their experiences. Tony Brooks

scratch
scratch

Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:06pm

Post Subject: Internet and HDTV aboard a marina moored narrowboat

Internet: I appreciate that the following is unlikely to be an option for the original poster but our widebeam (which I use as an office during the week) has a wireless link back to the house (which is within line of sight). Phone calls, computer, etc all go through this link. The house enjoys a fibre-to-the-cabinet connection so about 8Mbps down and 2Mbps up. For the non-techincal, that's easily enough for two children to be plugged into different iPlayer programmes while we're still doing other internet related stuff. We use two Ubiquity UniFi AP Outdoor units for the wireless internet link. These do require a computer to be on and running some admin software back at the house but that's not a problem for us. Likely of more relevance to the original poster, when we're away from the marina, I use my mobile phone tethered to a computer via USB. Tethering via USB seems to be important as we get far higher throughput this way than when relying on the phone's WiFi hotspot feature. My 3G phone gave us enough bandwidth to watch TV being streamed from a receiver back at home. We managed to chew through 2GB in less than 24 hours doing this. For more permanent access I'd investigate a wireless router capable of sharing the signal from a 3G dongle. The killer with 3G phone access is the contract. Many (most) phone contracts have limited data download and if not, they'll have an acceptable use policy (AUP). Exceeding any caps will be financially painful. Who's offering the best contract varies from day to day so you have to do your research. As a general observation, Three tend to offer good data only contracts but you do have to do some legwork yourself to find the most suitable contract for your needs on the day[1]. 4G is too expensive with limited coverage. Further, current real life implementations don't seem to offer the significant increase in download speeds you'd expect compared to up to date 3G kit. FWIW, my contract is an old O2 SIM only contract with an unlimited data option. Last time I looked I couldn't find anything comparable to replace it. All data contracts were capped. As a left of centre thought, BT WiFi <http://www.btwifi.com> may be available in your marina. This offers unlimited data for £15 per month and is likely to be faster (and cheaper) than any mobile phone offering. You can always test with an "instant access" package for a day to see how it works for you (if it is available in your marina). TV: Freeview is good enough for us. We bought a Hirschmann AUTA 1 DVB-T as an aerial. It does digital TV only (not a problem as analogue's gone away anyway) and is a small unit which you can mount in a window. It works very well. Even in the marina surrounded by buildings and trees it pulls in a good enough signal for judder free TV. It does require power though as it has an in-built amplifier. 5 VDC or 12 VDC - so you can plug it into your boat's 12 volt circuit. Can't speak as to satellite but I have eyed up Sky Go <http://go.sky.com/vod/page/64/home.do> on a couple of occassions. Unfortunately a bias against ever having anything to do with Sky again rather nixes that as an option - but I appreciate that I may be unreasonable in this respect. HTH Simon [1] Having heard good things about VMO GiffGaff, I went to have a quick look at their packages. They offer a £12 "goodybag" which offers unlimited internet <http://giffgaff.com/goodybags/12pound-goodyb ag> but a quick browse of the small print shows that tethering is not permitted. £12.50 will get you a 3GB "gigabag".

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