Best Internet Options for Boats

satellite internet for boats

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When boating in remote areas or offshore waters, it can be challenging to find a suitable internet option due to the limited availability of connectivity. From mobile hotspots and satellite internet to 5G, we’ll break down some of the best internet options that are available for your boat. 

Mobile Hotspot Internet for Boats

A hotspot is a device that uses cellular data from your mobile phone provider to create a Wi-Fi network. Other devices can connect to the hotspot in order to get access to the internet. This is an easy and convenient solution for boaters to get internet, but coverage depends on your cellular provider.

Advantages of Using Mobile Hotspot Internet on Your Boat

Mobile hotspot internet for boats has several advantages, including portability, convenience, and affordability. You can take the device with you wherever you go, including your boat. All you need is power and cellular service in order to get online quickly. And depending on how much data you use each month, these plans can be quite affordable compared to other options such as satellite internet.

Disadvantages of Using Mobile Hotspot Internet on Your Boat

The main disadvantage of using a mobile hotspot on boats is that they are limited by the amount of data available in their cell phone plan, or can cost extra to add more data to your mobile hotspot. And most significantly, some areas may not have strong enough signal strength for reliable connections while at sea due to distance from shore or obstacles like hills or mountains blocking signals from the tower.

If you think a mobile hotspot is a good solution to get internet access while on your boat, be sure to ask your provider:

  • About coverage and how far away from shore it will work.
  • What the battery life is for the device and how many simultaneous connections it can support.
  • How much data can be used, how much overage fees are, and if there is an option for unlimited data.

Satellite Internet Options for Boats

Satellite internet uses signals from satellites orbiting Earth to provide high-speed broadband connections. It’s an ideal choice for those who live in rural areas where cable or DSL services are not available. You’d think it’d be a good option for boats, but satellite internet service is usually tied to a physical location or address.

Can you get satellite internet on your boat? Yes, you can. But it’s going to cost you.

Starlink currently offers a maritime satellite internet service. It features global coverage with download speeds reaching 350 Mbps. By comparison to satellite internet providers such as HughesNet and Viasat, that’s very fast. The catch? I’ll cost you $5,000 per month with a one-time equipment purchase of $5,000.

  • Satellite internet
  • 2-year fixed pricing
  • No hard data caps

  • Fast satellite internet
  • Ideal for rural areas
  • Up to 3x faster than DSL*

  • High-speed satellite internet
  • Low-latency connection
  • No annual contracts

Advantages of Using Satellite Internet on Your Boat

One of the main benefits of using satellite internet on your boat or yacht is that it provides coverage in even the most remote locations – something that traditional wired connections cannot do. And since there are no cables involved, installation costs are typically lower. Satellite technology offers higher speeds than many other types of wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks – imagine streaming your favorite shows while out at sea!

Disadvantages of Using Satellite Internet on Your Boat

The biggest downside to satellite internet is cost, especially to get it on your boat. Not to mention there are only a select few marine satellite internet providers. Additionally, it is also susceptible to bad weather conditions that can interfere with signal strength. You may experience slower speeds or dropped connections altogether during inclement weather. Most satellite internet providers offer unlimited data, but they will cap high-speed data.

When choosing a satellite internet provider for your boat, verify that it will work on boats, that the equipment is rated for marine use, and what areas the provider covers. Ask about any additional fees for maritime service and what data limits exist for the internet service. Also, make sure that your boat meets the minimum power requirements to operate the equipment.

5G Internet Options for Boats

5G is the latest generation of cellular technology, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections than ever before. It’s becoming increasingly popular as an option for getting internet access on boats. It supports faster download and upload speeds with less latency (delay) than previous generations, as well as a greater range.

Advantages of Using 5G on Your Boat or Yacht

Speed and portability are two of 5G internet’s greatest advantages. And since it’s signal ranger is better than previous generations, you can sail further from shore and maintain connectivity. Because it’s wireless, you also won’t have to invest and install extra equipment to get it up and running.

Disadvantages of Using 5G on Your Boat or Yacht

Despite its positives, 5G does have a couple of drawbacks. Signals from other vessels may cause interference and coverage in certain areas may be limited due to a lack of 5G infrastructure on open water. And of course, if you’re sailing the globe, you will lack connectivity while far from shore and rack up international costs when entering port in other countries.

Other Internet Options for Boats

Each year there are more internet options for boaters. After all, having internet access on a boat is useful for navigation, communication, and entertainment. Here are a few more products boaters may find beneficial for their vessel. They may not all provide internet service, but they provide communications, which is crucial during emergencies.

Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator is an affordable device that provides global coverage for boaters. Download maps to coordinate GPS navigation, and give yourself peace of mind in case of disaster with SOS broadcasting and search and rescue monitoring. While it doesn’t provide internet connectivity, this device is a must-have affordable lifeline for avid boaters who frequently find themselves far from shore. Price: $400+.

Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator
Source: Amazon

Iridium Go! Satellite WiFi Hotspot

The Iridium Go! Satellite WiFi Hotspot is one of the more affordable options to get internet service on your boat. It’s marine-rated and compact. It has global coverage, built-in GPS, can support multiple users, and has an SOS button at the ready in case of emergencies. While it can provide internet access, it is quite slow at 2.4 Kbps. And keep in mind that you may have to purchase minutes to connectivity. Price: $1,000+.

Iridium Go! Satellite WiFi Hotspot
Source: Amazon

It can be challenging and expensive to get internet access on your boat, but there are options that may work for your needs. While it may be the most expensive option, we recommend a reliable satellite internet provider if you are frequently in international waters and spend considerable time abroad. At the very least, keep a handheld satellite communicator on your vessel in case of emergencies.

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Nick Welch
Nick has spent years navigating the ever-evolving terrain of the telecom and privacy security space, leveraging his extensive knowledge to create insightful content that addresses common internet-related queries and challenges. Away from work, Nick enjoys spending time outdoors with family and his dog. On weekends you can find him hiking local trails or taking on new running routes.