I took a call recently from a Skipper of a 50ft Sailing Yacht. He advised that he had a bunch of really good 3g and wifi kit on board and was looking for a way to load balance all the connections into one marine WiFi enabled network.

I immediately thought of Pepwave Max mobile routers as they would be a really good fit for his needs. There are three variants, the 600, 700 & flagship HD2. I plan on ordering an HD2 soon and will do a review on here for it, but in this case the Max 700 seemed the best choice. Have a look at the planned install below (you can click on it to enlarge).

My suggested plan was as follows:

The Skipper 150 and the existing Digital Yacht Wifi Mast will connect to the Max 700 via Cat5 to the two WAN ports. – This allows for load balancing across the Wifi connectivity and the Satellite Data from the skipper 150.

  • The 700 comes with four 5.5dbi magnetic base wifi antennas. Two of these will connect to the AP antenna connectors (shown on the left above) and will provide  wifi access on the Yacht (so mobiles, laptops and a Toughbook touch screen can be connected).
  • On the right, there are a pair of antenna connectors for the Wireless Client access which can be used to connect the 700 to other wireless networks. Since there was already a Digital Yacht Wifi Mast, we don’t need to use these connectors for yacht to land/marina wireless access. Instead I suggested the use of the included 5db antennas that come with the 700 and use it to connect to the Ericsson W35 as a client. That way the 700 can use the 3g connectivity that’s available there.
  • If they want more 3G coverage (or 4g in areas where it is available) they can buy usb 3G modems (up to 4 of them) and plug them in at the back (and front) of the 700 to give  more bandwidth in those coverage areas.

How great is that? In the right location the Pepwave will load balance the satellite broadband, 3g and WiFi from the marina providing high speed internet access. It is configurable with WAN port priorities so that the satellite broadband is only used when it is the only device with connectivity. You can also set bandwidth limits on the 3g connections so that if you are on a cheaper tarrif with a capped usage policy it will use it until the cap is reached and then wait until the next payment cycle before using it again.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this marine WiFi setup in action (although its unlikely since the Yacht is in the Caribbean.. maybe some photos though)  and playing with the HD2 which has in built 3G Modems and a GPS receiver which allows for global tracking of the router and its host vehicle – very very cool.

You can find out more about the Pepwave Max 700 at the Peplink website www.peplink.com