Planning an Extended Trip? Don’t Forget Your Internet

Monday, 05 October 2009
BGAN Internet. Photo Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNETHave you ever fantasised about going out on a canoe or kayak trip and still be connected to the internet? I know I have.

Make Magazine recently unveiled information on what’s needed build your own bullet proof portable internet system when you are out on the trail or actually in the middle of a real life disaster where communications has gone down (but we won’t get picky).

Designed to fit in a backpack or small waterproof case, the key components you will need are
  • Inmarsat BGAN satellite terminal
  • Fold-flat 48-watt solar power kit
  • Small, lightweight laptop computer
  • 8-hour battery power supply
  • Various phone, network and USB cables to bring it all together

For a cost of about $3,500 you can have the internet almost anywhere in the world. After purchasing the hardware, your usage costs aren’t cheap. It’s about $1 a minute for satellite voice calls, $3 to $6 per megabyte of data plus a monthly service fee.

BGAN Internet - Photo Credit: inmarsat.comEverything runs through Inmarsat’s BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) system which connects you into their network of orbiting satellites for voice and data transfer. Downloaded speed can be as high as 492kbs which is nice mid-level broadband. Though not quite as fast as home but still very respectable non-the-less.

Of course some people are going to ask, “Isn’t the point of getting away, just that, to get away from it all?”

I would tend to agree with you for short trips but there are several reasons why you might want to stay connected with the outside world. If you were on an expedition, you might want to keep your blog updated so people can sponsors can follow your progress. From a risk management perspective, you might want to use the internets power to deliver you the most updated weather information to help plan that high risk crossing.

Of course, we would all know that you would really just be interested in lugging that equipment out so I could keep updated on what was going on out there on or you eBay watch list. You wouldn’t want to lose out on that very rare china pattern that just went up for auction would you?

More info: MAKE Magazine

Top Photo Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Bottom Photo Credit:

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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