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How can I get on the Internet from my boat?

I'd like to be able to connect to the Internet from my boat. I have a laptop computer, but in the absence of a landline, don't know how to connect. Can you help?

Asked by: Frequently Asked Question  | 9.27pm, Friday 11 April
Tags: equipment internet

WW says:

Technology is changing so fast that any answer we give will be different in a year - but here goes.

The easiest way to get online while afloat is via a mobile phone Internet connection. You might be able to do this by hooking your computer up to your existing mobile phone: or, if not, you can buy a "broadband dongle". These tiny gadgets (about the size of a computer mouse) plug into your USB port and have the guts of a mobile phone inside them.

Once you've plugged this into your computer, all you have to do is fire up the dialler program, click 'Connect', and you're connected just like at home. Speeds are good though not quite home broadband quality; reception, of course, can be an issue, especially in out-of-the-way locations. You will typically need to take out a contract (typically £15 a month for 3Gb of usage, which should be more than enough for most people), but some phone companies are now offering these on Pay-As-You-Go.

Mobile phone companies 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone each offer a dongle product.

We had a full guide to getting online from your boat in our May 2007 issue, and you can download it free. The dongle is a new appearance since then, but we hope you'll find the information useful.

Richard Fairhurst  | 9.33PM, Friday 11 April

Readers say:

I got a dongle for free from 3 for which I had to sign up for 18 months @ £10 a month. So far it has worked very well from inside the boat in a variety of locations, including Braunston where mobile rception is poor. I find the access speed perfectly acceptable; not much different from the broadband at work.

David Hymers  | 11.55AM, Wednesday 23 April

Ask the retailer eg t-mobile,vodaphone to show you a map of their areas where you can n cannot get on line via a dongle( mobile internet.Ive had a mobile internet connection with T-Mobile for 3 years now and can get a connection in most places , i did have a bad experience with a ccompany named after a colour , to get connected with them I had to link a mob phone to my laptop..terrible

andrew wolfendale  | 1.37AM, Monday 10 August

I use a mobile broadband dongle for my laptop, i borrowed a "3" dongle but found reception not very good, but have recently gone onto to "O2" pay as you go and find the reception better than the "3", I'm paying £20 per month for 3gb and don't use it all up and I'm online everyday mainly browsing and for facebook, I'm in the Hertfordshire area. Hope this helps.

Lee Farrell  | 8.11PM, Sunday 14 February

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