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Swancraft - Onboard Wi-fi


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I suspect if Swancraft have marketed & shouted about this from the rooftops their bookings will do rather well until the other fleets get onboard with the idea.... giving people what they want is normally pretty successful commercially, and whilst to some the apperal of a Broads trip may be to leave all this behind I suspect rather a high number of people would like the tinterweb when they moor up for the day, and to those who have never visited before it would appear to be a draw in selecting a cruiser.



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It will be interesting to see how you get on Howard,

There is loads of discussion about this most of us want something but feel that if there is no signal then it wont work but if there is a signal most of the customers will be surfing on tablets or phones.

Personally I don't understand any of it!

I do know that most of the Canal operators dismiss it...

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Only way this could work for hire fleets would be a extra cost to hire a mifi unit for say £20 a week. It would cover purchase of the mifi and a topup which wouldn't be needed every hire. They would pay for themself in a months hire. If they use more they could ring up and it comes off there hire refund.

Think about the cost if you stay in the big Inns totally silly prices and option against happy kids?

My mate took mine this year to London for the kids and worked a treat.

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Hi Clive

I'm not technical by any means but the system does work very well and we have not noticed any drop out even in Horning! Mrs Nog is more technically inclined and she has been very pleased with it. I certainly wouldn't want it to take over the holiday (still get in the pub) but it's very useful and I think would be a very attractive 'extra'


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Surely anybody with a smart phone will have data allowances anyway? If this is so, what is the point of a local WiFi hot spot on the boat?


I am technically minded and I'm probably missing something here (perhaps it's so obvious that I can't see it).


I wonder what units are being used? Anyone know?

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The problem with that, Andy, is surely that the coverage over most of the Broads is either very poor or of low quality.

I tried that path in the summer with a 4g phone and had very poor results.

So, how would a portable Wifi unit work any better? That's what I don't understand. The only possible improvements would be in the power of the transmitter/receiver of the unit of make it muti-network which would be hellishly expensive to run, surely?

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The larger antenna in a 3g router will be able to lock onto a far weaker signal then your average phone. I have set up quite a few such systems for near-shore vessels and the increase in range was quite impressive, there is no reason that you wouldn't see similar gains inland as well. That said high speed coverage will undoubtedly improve with the deployment of 4G so I suspect most people will simply use their mobiles to create a local hotspot and then tether other devices to them.


I was quite shocked when I checked the price of the Hubba routers, hugely overpriced for what is basically a 3G router with a high gain antenna.

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I don’t know anything about the system behind what Swancraft use – I suspect it is a semi-professional set up that cost a great deal of money to have installed rather than a more 'amateur' affair of a consumer off the shelf WIFI unit hooked to a Dongle.


The thing is these systems be it a dongle or otherwise work better and faster than using your mobile phone/tablet data connection. They do one thing and do it well - bit like a compact camera will always take a better photo than a camera in a smart phone. 


I use a MiFi unit when I am onboard and this is not the most 'up to date' one can get now.  But, it works - very well.  I can watch iPlayer say or stream music and since my phone is with O2 and that practically stops working outside Norwich (and you can forget about 3G full stop) I can route all calls through TU Go (an O2 App similar to Skype but uses your included texts/minutes allowance when making calls etc) which means calls and texts come to me via the Web - thus if my MiFi has the internet and I am within its WiFi range it matters not a jot what the O2 signal is like.


The other good thing about having onboard WIFI is it means anyone onboard can use the connection – so you might have kid with a phone or tablet that only has WIFI (not a sim card to use the mobile data network) or you might have parents who don’t want their kids racking up large data bills on their phones but at home when they are connected to their home broadband it is not a problem.


You can get WIFI on London Underground stations, on coaches and trains – it is expected to be provided in hotels and increasingly such expectation is it should be free included in the room rate (judging from some of the revises i have seen on Trip Advisor) so as so many millions of people use the internet daily, and while one appreciates nature and ‘getting away from it all’ it might be nice to get online with ease while sat watching the TV or in bed on your tablet to download a book on your Kindle or a movie on your iPad.


The real issue is not going to be so much about connection – since in my experience as long as your not on O2, you can get a good fast speed on the Broads – it is cost and data usage of hirers.  You either accept the costs or absorb them, charge a deposit that is treated like fuel – what you’ve not used is refunded – or the hirer pays for a top up themselves – which would mean any unused data would effectively be available for the following hirers.


It is not so much about technology now, it frankly comes down to cost – someone has to pay for this be it the hirer or boatyard and neither really are going to be too happy to pay for it...

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  • 5 months later...

Personally, i`d rather not have anything to do with it. I think it`s great to be able to get away from general life when on the Broads, that`s why i love it. Some of the syndicate owners on Lightning are pushing for a wi fi system to be fitted, something i`m against, but we live in (and have syndicate based on) a democratic system, so it looks like i`m yet again going to have to pay for something i don`t want and will more than likely never use.


It`s good to be a "ludite".


I can never find the laughing smiley.

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I think the HUBBA system is very expensive indeed to provide the boat with an internet connection.


I have to say the unit I use has never let me down and cost a fraction of the cost of a 'proper installed system'.


On a side note, I wonder why people are against more connectivity when away from home on the Broads.  I have O2 as my phones network and I have an iPhone.  Sadly unless I am in Norwich or Stalham I never get a 3G signal, and usually a pretty poor phone signal elsewhere.  Therefore the onboard WiFi covers me for making and receiving calls (I use a TU app free to O2 customers).


But there are so many other times having connectivity to the Web is a boon:


  • When at Loddon Staithe onboard the boat to be able to look at the pubs and view the menus of them before making a choice and calling to book a table.


  • At How Hill to download the bus timetable then use Google Maps to find where the bus top was at Ludham Bridge.


  • Downloading the manual for a Webasto hot air heater to identify the sequance of LED flashes the unit was giving to help narrow down the fault.


  • Streaming all your music collection wherever you are or being able to read books without having to bring it all with you.


There are just four examples which are not (to me) trivial things like checking ones Facebook or email etc.


If I owned a boat I'd not get a HUBBA system because of the cost - but I would have a permanently installed system that worked as HUBBA does for less expense.  Oh and I add an external high gain WiFi antenna for picking up any local WiFi hot spots thus saving my data costs on top ups.

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