I have ATT- the service off shore (but close) is pretty darn good.
I stream pandora, i receive calls (through my bluetooth jam box) and i have always felt pretty confidant that i could make an emergency call if i need to.
BUT they are expensive and other brands are offering much better rates for "the same" amount of bandwidth (not necessarily the same exact features: like roll-over bandwidth, etc).
SPRINT is probably gonnna win my business unless i hear that people have had very bad results with them (recently)
If your cell provider's service works on shore at the dock, it will most like work for your inshore sailing. I am a FL boy and have no problems while boating within 15 miles of shore any where in the state. FYI: If you do not have any prearranged, prepaid rescue service (like Boats US, etc) calling for help can easily exceed 500 American.
I have ATT but was about to switch. Even with an 18% company discount it still double what I can get from other places. I don't know off the top of my head but if you google there are a bunch of the knock off brands that actually use ATT towers so you'd get the same service just at a lower rate.
'82 NACRA 18 Square
'85 Hobie 18 "Honey Badger Don't Care"
'86 Hobie 18 "The Rippin & The Tearin"
I have worked in wireless telecom for 20+ years mostly in the Southeast USA and somewhat in different markets overseas. Cellular One in early 90's. AT&T Wireless Services, Nextel, Powertel, and T-Mobile are all on my resume.
That said. Best service provider can vary greatly market to market and there is no one size fits all answer.
But here are some very general guidelines:
1) AT&T and Verizon will have the most coverage and will be the most expensive.
2) T-Mobile will be the fastest with the most 4G coverage (data) and least expensive at the cost of less coverage.
I know most of the markets in the Southeast very well and know the right people to ask in the markets that I don't know. If you have a specific area you are interested in I will be glad to answer any questions.
Brad in Jax
future Stiletto owner
As recently as 3 years ago a friend tried T-mobile for the cost. It was okay in the major cities, some nice features like calls over wifi that act like normal phone calls so if you are in the basement of a building you still had the ability to make and receive calls, but as soon as you left the area, coverage went down a ton along with call quality. Both AT&T and Verizon work offshore, some spots better than others. I wouldn't try lesser carriers if you value your call quality, but I know Verizon has recently lowered prices (by a significant amount, 3 phones for $140 after tax with 20% corporate discount, down from $180 for the same plan last fall).
Thanks John but that is not an option here for me
1. having the ability to pull up radar is a game changer here in the lighting capital of the US - we have storms almost every afternoon in the summer - knowing where they are and where they are heading is priceless.
2. having the ability to call for help when needed is a requirement for me - and i'm not looking to call the coast guard (via vhs) unless i see a mine floating or a dead body (and even then, it's the police who would get my call) - i broke a bow tang in the gulf last year, had i not had my phone, i would have had to flag down a power-boater and request a tow. And i have heard stories, and see first hand that most powerboaters in my area shouldn't be allowed near a motor-boat... they aren't my first or second choice.
I have lost a phone overboard. It was due to my own stupidity (taking pictures of my reefed mainsail - and was hit with a HUGE gust and winds shift. I jumped to the other side of the boat but my phone (that was in case) didn't make the trip. It was feb and tooooo cold to attempt a rescue). It was a costly mistake, but one i will risk again to have the piece of mind and security of having on-board communications
I keep my phone in a otter box - and (now) keep that in a drybox as well - that has a lanyard on it.
I looked into them , but sprint is actually cheaper and
"Despite operating on AT&T’s excellent network, Cricket customers have their LTE speeds artificially capped at 8 Mbps" - http://www.toptenreviews.com/mobile/phones/best-cell-phone-providers/cricket-review/.
Edited by MN3 on Mar 16, 2017 - 01:36 PM.
For me it is the VHF radio for an emergency... I carry two. And, if the dung hits the proverbial fan I'm calling in the cavalry for "dust off." In the 35 or so years I have been doing this, (knock on wood) I have only had to make one call..
Keep in mind that the radar image you're seeing could be a few minutes behind... they can be anywhere from a few seconds to six minutes old maybe longer depending how the information is being distributed to you, where the station is, and if they are using Multiple Elevation Scan Option-Supplemental Adaptive Intra-Volume Low-Level Scan in conjunction with the dopplar. Fast-moving thunderstorms can travel six miles or more between updates, and therefore may be much closer than they appear on an outdated radar image. Be sure to compare the image’s time stamp to the current time is critically important when thunderstorms (lighting) are approaching.
Edited by JohnES on Mar 16, 2017 - 06:00 PM.
Thanks for the input!
yup learned that one the hard way about 8 years ago
mid-summer storms had 5 or 6 cats stuck on an island (what we call island 8) for about an hour
relying on a radar loop, not realizing it was 20 min or so old... i informed all the skippers we had a break and should leave.. Boy was i wrong! we sailed right into "it"
everyone else hid behind an island (5) as my crew and i decided to try and make it to island (4). my plan was to sail fast to the island and head into the wind and park... well as we got close i hit a patch of seagrass at speed and BOTH rudders popped up and locked up.. NO STEERING AT ALL and doing about 20. We hit the island at full speed, hit a huge pile of seagrass on the shore and literaly went Dukes of Hazard (Airborn) and landed about 7' inland. Boat and crew were fine,... BIG LESSON LEARNED - check radar with a time stamp and don't rely on radar - just use it as a guide to see storm movement and direction'
I sail within 2 or 3 miles of land at all times, I continue to feel a phone is a better solution for my needs than a vhf. IF i sailed offshore, or raced, or sailed solo ... i would carry a vhf too (i probably will get one anyway)
In all markets in Florida I am a big fan of T-Mobile. They have the biggest data pipes and the most transparent pricing. They have been working for years on putting access points offshore and most of the east coast of FL can get service with them offshore out to 50+ miles. Not 100% sure on offshore service for west coast but I am betting it is the same. Buy a used phone of your choice (quad band and GSM) off craigslist, E-Bay, or your local WeFixIt store and take it to a T-Mobile store and your bill will NEVER be more than 72.25$ for unlimited everything. Even less if you need less.
Disclaimer: I no longer work for them but I do have several lines of their service.
As mentioned in the thread above t-mobile is not a good choice in some areas due to what spectrum they own they have poor coverage area. The NorthEast and mid Atlantic are particularly bad.
I use Verizon. Funny thing about carrying a cell phone with you when sailing, make sure it's in a water proof bag. I was mooring my boat at our place on the lake and the water was about 12 feet deep. I had my phone in a zip lock baggie inside my zipped up tool pouch when a big wave from a power boat came along and I watched the pouch flop right into the drink!!! Thank goodness the tool pouch was orange. When I saw it drop, I dove under and retrieved the pouch, thankfully the phone was okay. I only had the phone with me so that I could call when I got close to my pick up spot for someone to bring the trailer to pick me up.
1984 Hobie 16 "Yellow Fever"
Opelika, Al / Lake Martin