Caledonian Canal Anchorages & Moorings & Mobile Broadband

CaptainBob

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We're entering the canal in a couple of days and I'm trying to work out where along its length there are moorings or anchorages which have decent mobile broadband (we work on the net).

The "Three" coverage map seems to suggest Urquhart Castle bay has good signal but the "Skippers Guide" offers very little detail other than a couple of anchor symbols which, unhelpfully, are not included in the symbol key.

Do the anchor symbols mean we can anchor in their vicinity? Would rather avoid paying the £8 a night extra to go into Urquhart harbour if I can avoid it.

Apologies if this information is easily available somewhere, but I can't seem to find it.
 

Quandary

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You are unlikely to be able to anchor unless you go well in toward Drumnadrochit harbour which is about the only reasonably shallow bit of Loch Ness. The wind strength in Loch Ness can be higher than you might expect and it tends to increase by about 15 knots or more as you get towards the downwind end. However Loch Dochfour is very sheltered with trees all around even when it is howling down L. Ness. There is a landing stage for about 2 boats at Foyers but I can not recall what broadband reception is like there, I suspect with the steep hills around it might be poor. I did get broadband on our Vodaphone dongle at the top of the Fort Augustus flight but not at the bottom and it was fine at Muirtown Marina.
I only visit the Caley in the boat once a year for about a week so my knowledge is limited.
 

Niander

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If its strong wind you hope its from behind and not on the nose as the loch is 20 miles long
so them waves build up!...but then you can always scurry back to the shelter of the canal
if needed!
 

lenseman

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You can discover all the Masts which are extant along the Caledonian Canal by going to the following web-site:

http://www.sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/

You can quickly use the table at the bottom, after zooming in enough, to see if the area of map has any mobile telephone operators and zoom in and click on the 'blue pins' to see which operator owns the mast and supplies the service in that area. :)

There aren't that many. :(
 

Quandary

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Masts

We were in Dunvegan with a really strong signal bar on our (Vodaphone) mobile phone but no broadband at all on the (Vodaphone) broadband dongle. Rang Vodaphone to ask for explanation and was told that out there there is no relationship between the strength of the phone and the broadband signal. I presumed therefore that all the phone masts do not carry the broadband signal, or is there a different explanation?
 

Quandary

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Did you know that
There is claimed to be more fresh water in Loch Ness than in the whole of England, that gives an idea of how deep it is.
 

arawa

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I must have been luckier than some other responders as on 6 trips down the Canal I do not recall ever being unable to get a vodafone internet connection (GPRS so albeit not that fast) wherever I stopped.

I have also managed to connect on much of the West Coast with Loch Hourn and Kyle Rhea being memorable exceptions.

Currently connected to the forum from Totaig in Loch Duich as I listen to the rain lashing on the cabin roof!
 

lenseman

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We were in Dunvegan with a really strong signal bar on our (Vodaphone) mobile phone but no broadband at all on the (Vodaphone) broadband dongle. Rang Vodaphone to ask for explanation and was told that out there there is no relationship between the strength of the phone and the broadband signal. I presumed therefore that all the phone masts do not carry the broadband signal, or is there a different explanation?

The Vodafone mast you were accessing was probably the one on the peninsular north of the village of Feriniquarrie. This seems to be the only location near Dunvegan which has a cluster of mobile operators.

Vodafone and O2 operate on 900MHz (1G technology) and T-Mobile operates at 1800MHz (GPRS technology) which is possibly the only broadband available?

You were using your mobile phone accessing the 900MHz band which doesn't support broadband. You really need a signal at 1800MHz or better still at 2100MHz.

The other operator at this site is TETRA (police, fire etc) at 400MHz.
 

agurney

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We were in Dunvegan with a really strong signal bar on our (Vodaphone) mobile phone but no broadband at all on the (Vodaphone) broadband dongle. Rang Vodaphone to ask for explanation and was told that out there there is no relationship between the strength of the phone and the broadband signal. I presumed therefore that all the phone masts do not carry the broadband signal, or is there a different explanation?

You should be able to receive GPRS on all the masts as it is an extension of GSM, but 3G is a different technology and masts are few and far between in rural areas. Vodafone tend to have better coverage, but I was pleasantly surprised a couple of weeks ago off Shuna where I had a good high speed 3G (CDMA) connection with T-Mobile, but Voda only had a poor 2.5G (GPRS) reception (same dongle, different SIMs).

Another thing to bear in mind is that the base stations transmit at a far higher power level than your phone/dongle, so although you may be able to 'see' a strong signal over a long distance, you might be unable to connect because you don't have the power (and even if you did have the power the delay might mean missing timeslots).
 
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lenseman

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. . . . Another thing to bear in mind is that the base stations transmit at a far higher power level than your phone/dongle, so although you may be able to 'see' a strong signal over a long distance, you might but be unable to connect because you don't have the power (and even if you did have the power the delay might mean missing timeslots).

Following on from the above, as I explained to NathanLee, during his Round UK, when he found he could not access the network whilst in East Anglia (Norfolk Broads), I loaned him a 5-metre USB extension cable for the rest of his journey so that he could hoist his dongle up the mast. Five metres is apparently the longest length of USB extension cable that can be realistically be used before the signal starts to corrupt.

The dongle is the transmitter and by hoisting it aloft it made a dramatic difference to his signal. :)

http://onkudu.com/articles/mobile-broadband-on-your-boat/

:)

If you use this method by using a signal haylard, don't forget to water-proof the dongle. Use a condom to keep it dry. ;)
 

agurney

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...
Vodafone and O2 operate on 900MHz (1G technology) and T-Mobile operates at 1800MHz (GPRS technology) which is possibly the only broadband available?

You were using your mobile phone accessing the 900MHz band which doesn't support broadband. You really need a signal at 1800MHz or better still at 2100MHz.

...

1G is obsolete analogue stuff.

900MHz and 1800MHz are BOTH used for GSM (2G)
GPRS (2.5G) is an extension of GSM on both frequencies .

3G (UMTS) uses a completely different technology on a variety of frequencies (which may include 900MHz and 2100MHz bands)

.. and then there's HSDPA, HSUPA (3.5G) which is faster data
... and 4G LTE which is faster still (for USA)

Technologies, not frequencies.
 

CaptainBob

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So far we've had unbroken connection on 3G on Three all the way from the sea lock at Inverness, to where I am right now, close to Urquhart Castle. There's a massive yellow (visitors?) buoy here that we're on. No sign of a mast anywhere - but I've got 4 bars of H 3G :D

Which means I can work :(
 

colvic987

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So far we've had unbroken connection on 3G on Three all the way from the sea lock at Inverness, to where I am right now, close to Urquhart Castle. There's a massive yellow (visitors?) buoy here that we're on. No sign of a mast anywhere - but I've got 4 bars of H 3G :D

Which means I can work :(

Hi cap'n bob, what 3 g dongle are you using, or have you got a mifi, if so which one, the one white one or new black one. interested in the feedback as looking on upgrading.
i find that 3 have quite a good area coverage, as i have only had a couple of places i have been too where i have been unable to connect.

presently on boat using the white mifi (3 button one).


great blog by the way, the winter ones were good, just hope you found a good pub log fire during the day.
 

CaptainBob

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Hi Colvic, thank you. We have paraffin pressure lamps we use for heat in the day when we've no shore-power for the Eber (so we can save batts for working online) and fan heater and Eber when we have elec and diesel aplenty... but a good log fire in a pub is always good when it can be found. Few and far between in Drumnadrochit!

--

Unsure what "Mifi" is? We have two Three dongles and two Three mobile phones. For some reason my Three dongles weren't happy this morning so I just plugged in my mobile phone (Sony Ericcson Hazel) for now and it's been fine for some hours.

We have an old and new dongle for Three. Old one is E169G. New one is E1750.

We also have a few Vodafone dongles which have helped on occasion when Three wasn't great - but it seems like a very rare event.
 
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