Using cellular data for your internet connection on board your vessel is the most affordable way to get online for casual boaters. With the right equipment, you can extend a cellular signal up to 20 miles out from land.
The MobilSat cellular system is our top pick. It’s a comprehensive solution and extends cellular range up to 20 miles away from the shore. It’s very effective for boaters who cruise along the coast or go boating at lakes and along rivers. Like any cellular data, it won’t work everywhere, but it delivers an affordable internet solution for boating.
Of course, cellular data won’t work if you go too far from shore. Even with a booster, you’ll only be able to get online when you’re located close to shore and in a direct line of sight to cell phone towers. Once you cruise away from shore, or past the nearest port’s cellular coverage area, you won’t have a signal. That’s why we recommend always having a satellite phone on board for emergencies.
The advantage cellular internet offers to boaters is the price tag. Cellular equipment and data service are much less expensive than satellite setups. Even a complete marine setup with cellular modem, router, and a top of the line booster is less than $2,000.
Cellular data plans are affordable. Cellular data is $5 or less per GB, while satellite data for marine vessels costs $300 or more per GB. So most boaters use cellular as much as possible, even if they have a satellite connection for deep sea excursions.