Internet Via Cellular Antenna – Breaking Free Of Corporate Internet, Part 3

John Konrad
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January 12, 2011

cellular-boat-antenna-wilsonBetween my house and gCaptain HQ is a dead zone that sucks the bars out of every cell phone I’ve owned. That is until a friend suggested a MobilePro Cell Phone Signal Booster from Wilson Electronics. I simply put a magnetic antenna on top of my car, plugged this unit in and I had 4 bars of cell phone reception all the way home.

Now sometimes gCaptain needs updating in places like airport terminals, where no secure or free internet signal can be found. So we purchased a Overdrive 4G Mobile Hotspot by Sprint. This EVDO card sucks in cell phone service and broadcasts simple wi-fi for all your nearby devices.

So the first thing we did with our Sprint card was test it with the Wilson wireless booster and it performed flawlessly. Then we decided to try installing it on a test boat but had difficulty getting the magnetic antenna affixed to fiberglass and finding an open USB port to plug the unit into. The solution soon became clear… we would need to hardwire a Wilson unit into the the boat.

To accomplish this we needed a few specialty items;

With all these units installed, just place the Overdrive unit in wilson cradle and, like magic, you have cellular service broadcasting from within the steel bulkheads of your ship.

Like our wireless internet solution, this idea has one limitation; range. The antenna will give you cell reception, which you can use for ordinary cell phone calls OR data modem use a few extra miles out to sea, but that’s it.  While the unit works well on boats, the length of the antenna cable, from the flying bridge down to the offices, can lead to signal loss. Stay tuned to our Internet At Sea series next week for our final solution; text messaging from the middle of nowhere.

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