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sbcompleteit
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Wireless Internet to boats/vessels in a harbor/marina

Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:09 am

We have been tasked to provide a proposal for Internet service to boats in a harbor/marina/yacht club setting.

We are accustomed to providing Internet service with PtMP and PtP LOS links, using Mikrotik and Ubiquiti, directly to customers' buildings and offices. Boats and yachts have their own issues, such as masts and sail rigging, that are not an issue with our usual fixed wireless.

For this proposal there will be a single distribution point visible to all vessels.

We are considering a mesh network for the following reasons:
- There is a natural movement of vessels in their harbor slips
- Directional antennas (on the vessels) will be difficult to realign
- Masts and rigging have a significant 'unknown' factor on line of sight wireless

We're considering the NetMetal 5. It's PoE powered and looks quite weatherproof. Salt water is terribly unforgiving.

We're very interested to hear what the MikroTik community has to say on this project.

Your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

-Rob
 
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w32pamela
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Re: Wireless Internet to boats/vessels in a harbor/marina

Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:37 pm

Are you planning to serve a single marina or an entire harbor with marinas, moored vessels and anchored vessels?

What type of clients are you trying to reach; computers, tablets, phones directly or vessels with their own outdoor client such as Bullet M2's or Grooves that feed an onboard AP? My experience indicates that it is difficult to reach both types of clients from one AP.

While the number of 5Ghz clients is growing you will miss many boats that don't have 5Ghz clients.

Bob
 
sbcompleteit
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Re: Wireless Internet to boats/vessels in a harbor/marina

Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:07 am

Thanks very much for your reply Bob.

I obviously left out some needed details.

We're intending to cover the entire harbor with one or two base stations with 60 deg or 90 deg sector panels. The base stations will be on one side of what is basically a square-shaped harbor. The distance from base stations to farthest vessels is 0.5km to 0.75km. At this stage, it's doubtful that we'll be able to put hardware, by the boats, in the marina itself. Zoning/permitting issues abound.

The idea is to mount a 5GHz CPE (such as a NetMetal 5) radio to each vessel, with small omni antennas. That radio would be connect to and powered by a MirkoTik hAP router, providing on-vessel WiFi at 2.4GHz and wired access.

As I said, we're used to doing point to point and point to multi-point fixed wireless. We don't have much experience in wireless mesh networking. Mesh SEEMS to be the way to go, but we're open to suggestions.

-Rob
 
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w32pamela
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Re: Wireless Internet to boats/vessels in a harbor/marina

Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:03 am

That clears things up somewhat.

I don't know much about mesh myself but since you are thinking about it I assume you are planning on providing wifi service to vessels that are moving around the harbor such as ferries, tour boats or work boats that spend their life in the Harbor area.

As a point of reference I've been selling Wifi client systems for use on vessels for the last 7 years; mostly Bullets and for the last 2 years Groove 52Hpn's. My clients are mostly recreational boats and the systems are usually owner installed. I rarely see any water damaged equipment so I'm not sure that the Netmetal is worth the extra cost for weather protection unless you have other reasons to use the Netmetal such as dual antennas.

You shouldn't have much trouble with the distances involved although you'll probably have to setup a test case to get a feel for the type of throughput that can be expected for your links.

If you intend to make your service available to transient vessels then you will have to provide 2.4 Ghz AP's since relatively few boats are equipped with 5 Ghz outdoor clients.

Bob

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