A Modern Nomad With A 4G Mobile Hotspot
First of all, apologies for sounding like a millennial education book but I’m going for it anyway…
In the modern world, it’s no surprise that we critically rely on the internet to go about our daily lives. The internet gives me and millions of others a chance to connect to learn, love and share passions. You may have an anti-establishment nomadic ideal of being an off-grid cruiser with no modern day anchors, but let’s be honest.. the internet is great. Nothing beats sitting in your pants watching an episode of mindless Australian wife swap whilst you wait for the pizza delivery guy to buzz your phone (bringing you a not so fresh reconstituted slab of Italian facade slop). All of which you’re doing from a tiny 22ft yacht – it’s great. For me personally, I like to find a balance of being entertained by the real world as well as my surroundings, meanwhile using the internet for my escapism.
Most importantly the internet is now the number one source of knowledge. To be honest; books take up a lot of room especially in a small space with limited storage. They look great but they don’t take well to the often cold and damp marine environment. I always keep a few basic sailing, first aid, and DIY books on-board, but that is as far as my collection goes. If your engine cuts out do you ring a marine engineer and have them fix it?I don’t! It costs too much. Your engine manual might be 50 years old, ripped to shreds and covered in coffee but the internet isn’t. The internet becomes your source of self-reliance; which is highly ironic since a large percentage of people think that sailing, cruising and off-grid life is all about breaking away from modern society.
Affordable internet On the Move
The most portable and stable internet network that you can connect to in the United kingdom is 4G LTE. This can be used to create a mobile hotspot. A mobile hotspot is where you use a phone to wirelessly tether the internet to a laptop or other device. If you are lucky enough to be based in a 4G area with a strong signal then you can apparently expect to receive internet download speeds as high as 50 Mbps – That said, I usually seem to be in the average download speed zone. I have used my mobile hotspot to tether three simultaneous devices whilst watching Netflix and catchup TV with no pausing or buffering, however in some locations it’s not always been up to scratch.
In my opinion, the internet should be a free, accessible wild west like place where nearly anything goes. Unfortunately, it’s not. The most recent wave of pricey smartphones come with 4G capabilities however they are expensive. We will use a list of phones from 2011, as the likely hood of you being able to purchase a cheap and compatible phone on Ebay is greater. Let’s face it; you’ll only drop that £600 smart phone in the water anyway, and no one like receiving flip picks. What are flip picks you ask? Flip pics occur when you drop a phone into water and the local marine life send your girlfriend explicit photos of their intimate areas. I lost my phone trying to get onto a boat once and trust me those crafty little fishies do know how to take a bad photo.
The 2011- 4G LTE -Hot Spot Compatible list
If you aren’t sure if a phone has 4G then you can check by using a phone specification and review website such as GSM Arena .
- Buy a phone, 4G modem or tablet with both 4G and tethering capabilities.
- Find a 4G phone service provider such as Three; they offer unlimited internet with rolling sim only contracts; this means you are not tied down contractually. They will tell you that you need to add a personal hot spot data allowances to hotspot the internet for your device so Its best you don’t mention your intentions.
- If you have an Android device then you can download the application Foxfi it will trick your provider into thinking you are accessing the internet via your phone and not a tethered device.
- You can now happily connect to the internet via your phone, how ever be warned ! This is against Three’s terms and conditions as naturally, they want all the money they can generate; luckily I’ve always been taught to not be greedy.
My Samsung Galaxy Prime cost me £50 second hand on Ebay and has 4G tethering. My unlimited data rolling contract Is £21 per month that’s £302 a year including the initial cost of the phone. In my opinion, it is worth paying that amount for a year of connectivity.
James from Bournemouth “ 4G is hard is hard to get unless close to a mast – HDSA+ is the more likely signal you will receive (3.5G); hdsa+ = approx 1-20 mbs”
Andy from Brighton “Get a decent mobile hotspot device that supports an external aerial – you’ll get much better bandwidth in out of city areas with an external high gain 3/4g aerial on the roof.”