The Yacht Technology Blog

Yacht WiFi Refit: A Big Bang for Small Bucks

Posted by Andy Levy on Apr 10, 2014 8:43:00 AM


Yacht Wireless SystemI picked up the phone on the second ring. It was "R," owner of a 52 meter yacht and a long-time Great Circle Systems customer. He sounded anxious.


"Andy, I need your help keeping my family together," R said. "My wife and I want to take the family cruising, but the kids don't want to go because they say their Internet connections on board are slow and spotty.


Plus, my granddaughter needs to write a term paper during our cruise and can't do it without constant access to Google. Can you help me get better WiFi on board so we can have a family vacation and keep everyone happy?"


Before I continue, let me give you some background on R and the WiFi situation on his yacht. You probably know that a lot has changed in the world of yacht WiFi in the past decade, both in terms of user's expectations and the available technology. In the old days--I'm talking the early 2000's--owners, captain and crew might have come on board with just a few wireless-enabled devices between them.


Back then, the owner or captain sat in a few select locations on board with a laptop to browse the web wirelessly. Typically, the yacht’s WiFi network wasn’t given much serious consideration and was often added almost as an afterthought using consumer-grade equipment.


So when Great Circle Systems installed R's wireless network about 12 years ago, it suited his needs at that time. The shipyard had not planned for an on board wireless network and no wireless access points (WAPs) had been installed during the build. This was pretty typical for a yacht designed in the late 1990s.


GCS added WAPs to R’s vessel network in 2002 using existing network cables where they could be found. With considerable effort, a few new cables were pulled to strategic locations, including the main salon, upper salon, and guest corridor. The nine consumer-grade WAPs served R's needs adequately for quite a few years.


Mobile_devicesFast forward to 2014. With the exploding popularity of devices like smart phones, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices, less-than-excellent wireless access just won't do. Everyone, from owners to deck hands, expects to be able to access their favorite websites, email, photos, and downloadable media at all times. And on board dead zones that offer no signal are deal-breakers.


Just to be clear, R is no tech snob--he doesn't work in the technology field and isn't especially fond of mobile devices. But like most of us, he has come to depend on his mobile devices to stay connected to his businesses. And his family wants to use their devices on board in the same way they use them on land.


R and his family aren't alone--virtually all R's guests and crew need good on board WiFi for their devices, too. So a vessel's wireless network has arguably become the single most import bit of information technology on board because it is the point of contact through which most users connect to the system.


When R called to inquire about a WiFi upgrade, I was really excited to show him how much yacht WiFi has improved in recent years. I knew he and his family would appreciate the following key improvements:

  • Higher speed

  • Stronger signal

  • Better coverage

  • Centralized maintenance and monitoring

And all of this at a very modest cost. In fact, a WiFi upgrade is one of the most cost-effective upgrades a vessel owner can make.


R approved the refit and GCS ended up installing a Ruckus business-class system on R's yacht. R’s new Ruckus ZoneDirector Wireless LAN Controller and ZoneFlex Access Points work together to provide total WiFi coverage to R’s yacht from stem to stern. That’s a vast improvement from the system it replaced.


Ruckus_ZoneDirector_1100_for_yacht-2The centralized Ruckus ZoneDirector wireless LAN controller allows the nine new Ruckus wireless access points to work in concert, controlling antenna power and channel separation for each access point.


And the controller lets the system adapt to sources of radio interference and rogue wireless devices. All in all, R's new system is providing everyone on board with a dramatically improved WiFi experience.


R got all this for a relatively small investment. The complete WiFi upgrade on R's yacht cost under $15,000, including installation. That's an extremely reasonable price to pay for a major upgrade on a service that's used every day by everyone on board. It’s what I call a "no-brainer" upgrade.


R loves his yacht's upgraded wireless network. He just returned from a family cruise and can't get over how he, his family, and crew are able to use their mobile devices throughout each day with no dead spots. In fact, R's family is already planning their next cruise holiday.


Best of all, R got a huge Wi-Fi bang without having to lay out a lot of bucks. Happy owners, guests and crew--that's what we like to see!


Want to know more about yacht WiFi for your refit or new build? Click the button below.

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Topics: yacht network design, yacht wifi

JD_Crawford_head_shotDarren and the GCS team have been instrumental in the development and deployment of several carrier grade IT networks for large scale, Savant-based super-yacht projects where the technology infrastructure needed to be extremely reliable. 


The capabilities of the GCS team have proven instrumental in helping us deliver a world class technology experience to some of the most prestigious yachts in the world.


J.D. Crawford of Savant Systems


I have been working with Great Circle Systems since 2006 when they did the installation of all our networking and Internet communications equipment on our boat being built in Germany.


The equipment they recommended and installed was exactly as we required.  We have had extremely good results with all of their equipment and it has performed as they had advised.


I would highly recommend them to all fellow captains.


Captain Keith T. Moore of M/Y Lady Sheridan

CE_W_Michael_Hummel_of_MY_TVTriton Administrator has proven to be the perfect tool for us on M/Y TV, which is a 78 meter Luerssen yacht.


Triton has comprehensive essential features plus any additional features one can possibly need. It is still easy to use and has a swift support team to implement customer-specific wishes, such as individual day logs, etc.


W. Michael Hummel, Chief Engineer of M/Y TV


Captain Bruno Herregods talks about Great Circle Systems tech support. 

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