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Internet access

I want to be able to access the internet when at the marina and when cruing, unsing my laptop from home. What do I need in order to do so?

Asked by: Paul Taylor  | 2.17pm, Sunday 2 December

WW says:

What you need is a device called a 'Dongle'. This is about the size of a pen but oval in section and has a USB connector at one end. The dongle contains a SIM card which connects your laptop to the internet via the mobile phone network. You plug the dongle into a USB socket on your laptop, download some software and start using it just as you do at home.
All the major networks can supply dongles and the SIM cards to go with them. It's a good idea to check the national coverage of each network and go for the one that is best for the area where you do most of your cruising. If you travel more widely, you should be able to buy SIM cards from other networks to extend your range if necessary. The SIM cards are preloaded with a number of Gigabytes depending on how much data you think you might want to download.
In weak signal areas, you may find that the dongle will not pick up a signal from inside the boat, especially if you have portholes rather than large windows. This is because the shell of the boat acts as a 'Farriday cage', blocking the signal. The answer is to buy an extension cable to insert between the dongle and the laptop. This will enable you to put the dongle on the roof or front deck (provided it isn't raining) where it will pick up a stronger signal.
I recently bought a Huawei E353U dongle using the Three network on Amazon. Since we only use the boat for holidays, I went for a pay as you go tariff and bought three SIMs that lasted for a month each so that I use one for each trip. Alternatively, I could have used one card and topped it up as required. If you spend more time on the boat, you could take out a continuous contract similar to a domestic broadband contract.
I was very favourably surprised how easy the system was to use, how good the coverage was and quickly the information downloaded - in some cases, more quickly than our home broadband system.

Graham Booth  | 11.09AM, Monday 3 December

Readers say:

You can also use your mobile phone, "tethered" to your laptop via USB connection, to create a personal hotspot. This accesses the internet via wi-fi, through your mobile, or 3G if you have this. I have an iPhone 4s and only pay monthly for my mobile - nothing extra for broadband for my laptop.

Carolyn Ross  | 3.49PM, Thursday 13 December

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