A reader recently asked us, “What happened to Broadband Express? Are they still around?” Yes, BBX is still around, but under a new name. Beacon WiFi, a large WiFi provider on the East Coast, purchased BBX. The BBX website is no longer operating, but www.beaconwifi.com has information on locations and rates. Many of the marinas that had BBX now have Beacon WiFi.

Beacon WiFi

Beacon WiFi is in the midst of changing their business model to what is called an ‘amenity model.’ Like the hotel industry, many marinas now realize that WiFi is almost a required amenity. Beacon WiFi is installing new, more robust systems in a number of locations to meet this new demand. The new systems are designed to guarantee WiFi coverage across the entire dock area. Some marinas offer this service free while others charge an additional fee. Subscribers to the Beacon WiFi network can access both existing BBX systems and new Beacon systems.

In our early surveys of marinas this year we have seen a mixture of WiFi offerings. Some marinas have only Beacon/BBX networks. Others have Beacon/BBX in addition to their own independent system. Coverage area often varies between the two. Other marinas simply provide a wireless signal near the marina office. Many marina systems are much slower than home users are used to.

Marinas in remote locations, such as in the Broughton Archipelago, use satellite data services. These systems have daily limits on data usage. Once the limit is reached, speeds drop dramatically. If you’re using a satellite internet connection provided by a marina, be sure to limit your bandwidth usage.

One alternative to WiFi we are testing this summer in B.C. is a Telus MiFi hotspot using cellular data service. The coverage charts show data service through the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, and much of Desolation Sound. Even parts of the Broughtons appear to have coverage. We’ll report on our experience as the season progresses.

Our new Transient Moorage Price Survey includes comments on the WiFi service available in each marina – as reported by the marina. The complete survey of Washington marinas is available now. B.C. marinas will be added in two weeks.

Let us know how you stay connected when cruising! Email us at
publisher@waggonerguide.com.

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