I want satellite internet on my boat. Is it too expensive?

One of the things I find myself saying a lot lately is, “getting away from it all doesn’t mean disconnecting from it all.” It’s more and more true every day. There was a time, even a decade ago, when someone could get on a boat and be out of touch for weeks at a time. Today, no one wants that. That’s just not how the world works.

Here’s how you do it today

You leave the house, you take your phone with you. You check your social and your email nearly constantly. And, when you get on your luxury yacht, you stay connected for as long as you can. In some cases, cell service drops off 2-3 miles from shore. In some cases you get a little more range. It’s a crap shoot, honestly. Once you’re past that point, you’re disconnected. The nerves set in. You worry that you’ll miss something important.

What would it be worth to you to never have that feeling again?

We call it “VSAT”

You can get internet service from virtually anywhere by connecting to the internet via satellite. This has been an option for people on land for decades. Now, it’s available to folks on the water as well.

A little bit of how it works

The VSAT antenna looks like a regular satellite dome.  The domes come in different sizes depending on how far offshore you plan on being. Just like satellite TV, it’s constantly re-aiming to make sure it’s pointed right at a satellite. Unlike satellite TV, it’s a two-way communication.

Amazingly, this relatively small device can broadcast out to a satellite tens of thousands of miles away. And as it does, it works like a very long-distance internet connection. You hook the satellite antenna to a router and, well, it just works.

What you need to know

Satellite internet is pretty fast. It’s fast enough for one person to stream video. It’s fast enough for a bunch of people to all be on social media, be shopping, or be emailing all at the same time.  It might be as fast as your cell phone data connection. It probably won’t be as fast as your home connection.

Like a cell phone connection, satellite internet is metered. You might see your service limited after a certain amount of data is used. There might be extra charges at that point. There are truly unlimited plans as well. It’s up to you and your budget.

But is it too expensive?

OK, here’s the meat and potatoes of this article. This is why you read it in the first place.

Yes, VSAT plans are more expensive than cellular or home plans. Period. They can be quite a bit more expensive. It depends on your choice of service. Less expensive plans are available depending on the level of service you want.

But you have to ask yourself, is it too expensive? Only you can answer that. If you’re a boat enthusiast, you’re used to spending money. You spend money to store the boat in the winter, to upgrade and check it every spring, and to use it every summer. It’s not a cheap hobby.

When you look at that, and look at the benefit, you’ll probably realize that VSAT isn’t too expensive. It’s just another part of the marine experience, and something you have to budget for.

Are there cheaper alternatives for internet?

Yes, kind of.

If you do plan on staying within 10 miles of shore, you can add a cell phone signal booster to improve your phone’s performance. While there are really not a lot of marine-specific boosters, pretty much any residential booster system can be adapted for marine use by using an outdoor antenna that holds up better in salt water.

Like anything else in the world of marine, it’s all sort of custom. And that means you need an expert on your side. Whether you’re considering satellite internet or just a cell booster system, you will get white glove service when you work with Signal Connect. No one does more satellite service activations than Signal Connect, and we’re here to take care of you! It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 or by just filling out the form below.

 

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.