WiFi, an interesting hybrid and a damn rip-off

Syrens hybrid lr

Syrens Onboard is the relatively new brand name for the high end marine WiFi systems developed by GeoSat Solutions (now also marketed by Syrens At Sea). I’ve heard mostly good things about this gear’s performance, even one report of getting usable WiFi 12 miles offshore! I may have misunderstood that range, and it’s certainly not common; WiFi may get you true broadband in some marinas and anchorages, but it’s cellular always-on data plans that keep your e-mail, weather reports, etc. flowing as you move along the coast. Which is why I saw a number of cellular data products in Miami, including the Syrens Onboard EC-Hybrid model above, which includes high power WiFi radio, amplified Cingular radio, local WiFi access point, and Ethernet router. It will supposedly even be able to use both forms of Internet access together.

In the meantime I just discovered that my hotel’s Wayport WiFi service (I’m in Miami until Wed.) is also part of the Boingo WiFi service, the main difference being price. Like instead of paying $50 for five days Boingo is $22 for a month and includes coverage in the airports I’ll be passing through, and lots of other places! The problem is that your computer will not see the Boingo service in many places, like this hotel, unless you use Boingo software as your WiFi “sniffer”. It’s free, there is a Mac version, and actually it’s quite good for seeing and connecting to any WiFi access point. If you use WiFi on the road, or water, you might want to download Boingo software today.

PS 2/20: Here’s a screen shot illustrating Boingo’s software, and the unfortunate attitude of more and more WiFi users I’m afraid…i.e. a secured AP named “NoFreeWiFiMoFo”.

WiFi  Boingo

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

7 Responses

  1. Dan Gingras says:

    Do you know if Network Stumbler (A great free piece of software for finding WIFI WAPs) sees Boingo AP’s?
    I’ve been using Network Stumbler with a High Power Buffalo card and a high gain Yagi and can get connections over a mile away.

  2. navnut says:

    Dan, I have Net Stumbler (a good program, agreed) on this laptop, but it does not see Boingo, just the Wayport APs. Obviously, Boingo doesn’t have its own physical APs here, just an agreement with Wayport…and a wildly different pricing scheme! I’ll check some airports tomorrow and report back.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Boingo worked at at least one Miami Airport Delta gate. Forgot to try Net Stumbler but very much doubt that it was visible by anything but Boingo software, though there was a somewhat obscure way to get to it through the airport’s sign up page. No Boingo or anything else at my Atlanta gate.

  4. John Navas says:

    What’s truly “unfortunate” are the abusers of open Wi-Fi access points, part of the reason that more and more access points are being closed/secured.
    While I do use Wi-Fi when it’s legitimately available, my most reliable means of marine Internet access is cellular data. The PC card for my laptop cost only about $50 (used) on eBay, and unlimited data costs me only $20 per month with Cingular. Download speed is up to about 20 KBytes/sec. Range offshore is up to about 20 miles (depending on location). For more info, see the Cingular Wireless FAQ I founded at http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cingular_Wireless_FAQ
    See also “Wi-Fi on a Boat”, part of the Wireless Wiki I founded, at http://wireless.wikia.com/wiki/Wi-Fi_on_a_Boat
    -John Navas

  5. Network Stumbler no doubt works at a lower level (with reference to the common Network Model) than what the Boingo Software is doing. I’m not sure about this but they could sign-on temporarily to open WiFi Access Points and Query for and indication that it is Boingo enabled. Or maybe that one shown in the screen shot just has its network name (SSID) called “Boingo”. From what I remember of Boingo anyone could set up a HotSpot and join Boingo.
    John Navas does have a fantastic Wireless Wiki Web Site. It is true as well that Cellular Broadband on Marine is becoming more and more popular especially with boats that remain in and near the US cell signals most of the time.
    Also what John says about people (even on yachts) connecting to open personal WiFi 802.11 Access points and using someone’s private network, is not a nice thing to do. And that could get you in legal trouble if anyone were to pursue it.
    It’s better to stick to Public Hotspots. You can usually tell when the wifi connection doesn’t take you right to the Internet, but takes you to the Hotspot Owners Special Page (it will do that no matter what web site location you enter.) where you have to at least sign in with some information. Some of them will give you Internet for 24-hours at no cost. Others require a credit card to sign on for a period of time (you create an account and get a username and password.)

    Alan Spicer

  6. Oh, I forgot to ask…
    Is that Hybrid thing still available from GeoSat/Syrens? I don’t see it on their web pages anywhere. And I haven’t seen one yet on a yacht.

    Alan Spicer

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    It was a prototype Syrens was showing in Miami, Alan; I should have been clearer about that.

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