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Step 5: How to connect your DataHub to a Cellular Router / Mobile Phone
Step 5: How to connect your DataHub to a Cellular Router / Mobile Phone
Jon Bilger avatar
Written by Jon Bilger
Updated over a week ago

The Datahub can be connected to a cellular hotspot to get internet. We recommend getting a dedicated Cellular router or mobile phone for the boat with its own data SIM card. This should be separate from your personal phone. It does not need to be an expensive phone (less than $100 Android phone will suffice), and dedicated data sim cards are inexpensive in most places. Even if you have Satellite Communications, we recommend setting up this feature. Here are 6 reasons:

  1. PredictWind Anchor App: This App will be released in Q3 this year and allow you to monitor your boat at Anchor remotely. So, for example, you can be ashore getting the groceries and get alerted if the boat drags or the wind changes. Although this can work through satellite communications it is cheaper with a cellular connection.

  2. Least Cost Routing: This is a smart and automatic feature in the DataHub. For example, if you are sending an email with a large photo attachment using the PredictMail service, the DataHub will automatically select the cheapest service. So, for example, if you had a Iridium GO exec, and a Mobile Phone connected to the DataHub, the PredictMail service will use the mobile phone's internet (if in cellular coverage) as it is cheaper.

  3. Backup: If your Satellite service has an outage, then the Datahub will automatically switch over to the Cellular router / mobile phone. This feature is useful with Starlink which can have outages due to obstructions, congestion issues in poulated areas, or outages due to heavy rain.

  4. GPS tracking: If you decide to cancel your satellite service, for example when coastal cruising with good cellular coverage, then the DataHub can use the cellular service. This is a great way to keep your GPS tracking active in coastal situations. The switch over to cellular is automatic.

  5. Marina Wifi: Although it is possible to access free Marina WIFi, typically this can be unreliable in peak times with many boats acessing the service at the same time. Marina Wifi typically have limited range, and so can unreliable. Connecting to local Marina Wifi is another setup step in the DataHub, for every marina that you visit.

  6. Reliability: Although you can connect the DataHub to your hotspot on your personal mobile phone, in practise this is not reliable. When you take the phone off the boat, the hotspot connection will be automatically turned off when not in use, and drains the power on your battery. Then need to remember to turn on the hotspot again when back on the boat, and connected to a power supply. The simplicity of having a dedidicated mobile device that is always connected to the datahub, cannot be underestimated.

There are 2 cellular hotspot options we would recommend. Here are the benefits and limitations:

  1. Mobile Phone connected directly to the DataHub with USB charging cable: This is the most cost effective solution and works incredibly reliably. As the phone is charged by the DataHub there is no charging issues. You can select a cheap phone (Android or iPhone) and use this as the dedicated boat phone / sim card. It can also be a backup phone in the event you lose or damage your personal phone. The setup process is straightforward, and is the same process you completed when upgrading the DataHub Firmware. Please see setup instructions for iPhone and Android.

  2. Cellular LTE Router: There are many different manufacturers of these devices. A popular brand is Pepwave, but we do not have any preference or recommedations. The advantage of this solution is that it can support multiple sim cards (as different providers have different coverage limitations) and it can be connected to an external cellular antenna for better signal strength. But all these extra features come at an extra cost! You can connect the Cellular LTE router to the DataHub with an ethernet cable, or via Wifi. Please see the setup instruction for Connecting DataHub via Ethernet, or Connecting via Wifi

Congratulations! You are now ready to move onto the final step Step 6: How to connect to your Satellite device

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