Friday, August 26, 2011

Mobile phone and internet at sea –Telstra Next G coverage along the East coast of Australia:

Just before we left Sydney we installed a masthead mobile phone antenna and wireless router aboard Lucey Blue. We already had VHF and an MF/HF system with Pactor modem to ensure reliable communication, however, we also wanted long distance mobile reception for our trip up the East Coast of Australia.

After a little research online we settled on a high-gain masthead antenna connected via a thick, low-loss co-axial cable to an Ericsson W25 wireless router.

The Ericsson W25 (now replaced by the Ericsson W35) acts as a gateway and provides voice, IP fax and broadband internet communication via the 3G WCDMA/HSDPA mobile phone network, or when that is not available via the GSM cellular network. The system does not require 240 volt power and provides broadband data speeds of up to 7.2 mbs, clear voice and multiple methods to connect a PC – Ethernet, WiFi or USB.

To setup you simply need to connect the antenna and 12 volt power cable, insert a standard mobile sim card and follow the simple software configuration process. Our home phone handset plugs into the Ericsson W25’s RJ11 port and our laptops automatically connect to the WiFi network when we are aboard Lucey Blue.

Ericsson W25 technical specifications:

• Voice / IP Fax / Internet - 7.2mbps
• Tri-band WCDMA (850/1900/2100)
• Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900)
• RJ11 Interface
• USB 2.0 Interface
• Ethernet Port
• 4 port 10/100 Mbit Router
• WiFi 802.11

The masthead mobile phone antenna and Ericsson W25 system has worked extremely well along the East Coast of Australia and as far as 30-35 nautical miles offshore. The Telstra connection got a bit patchy at Lady Musgrave Island – approximately 30 nautical miles east of Seventeen Seventy – near the end of our stay, but by then the weather conditions had deteriorated somewhat with strong southeast winds, low cloud and rain between us and the mainland. Most days phone, email, web surfing and Skype work flawlessly, but I would not want to try and download a full length HD movie!!!!

The Ericsson W25 will operate anywhere in the world with mobile coverage and is much cheaper than a satellite phone or Satcom system, faster than our HF Pactor system and very reliable for coastal cruising. We love the simplicity, but if we were going to head further offshore I would also invest in an Iridium satellite handset.

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