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A Cellular Plan for Cruisers By Robert Sapp

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ife today is plugged in and connected. We almost all carry a smart phone that we use to call, text or email friends and family. As boaters, we use these devices to access the internet in order to navigate, check weather and run a variety of boating apps. One of the challenges of cruising is determining how to affordably maintain this communications connection during our travels, especially when leaving the United States behind and venturing to foreign lands. When we first started preparing to cruise to the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and the Caribbean, my wife and I both carried phones from Verizon. We knew we’d need to make some changes if we wanted to stay in touch with home once underway. Verizon’s CDMA-based system is not widely supported outside the U.S., where the GSM standard is the norm. Their international roaming rates for talk, text and data were so high that we knew we could easily see thousand dollar phone bills in our future. So we began researching our options. What is the Ideal Cell Plan for Cruisers? If we could design the ideal cellular plan for cruisers, we think the key feature would be that no matter what coun-

try you were in, your phone would work as if you were back at home. No need to purchase local SIM cards or change phone numbers, and no exorbitant international roaming fees for talk, texting or data. Early in our research we discovered that such a system actually existed, although very few people had ever heard of it. It’s a service offered by Google called Project Fi. Google Project Fi probably isn’t like any other cellular plan you may have tried. For starters, when you sign up for service through Project Fi, you are not tethered to a specific network. Calls are routed through either the Sprint, T Mobile or US Cellular networks, depending on which one gives the best connection for your location. The system can also use WiFi to complete calls or send texts in certain cases when cellular isn’t available. Next, there’s no contract or minimum service period, so you can leave the program anytime you want. The rates are extremely affordable. As of this writing, unlimited talk and text runs $20 per month for the first line, and $15 a month for additional lines up to a maximum of five. Data is a flat $10 per gigabyte (GB), billed on a pay-as-you-go and pro-rated basis. Use 2.5 GB of data in a month, and you’ll pay $25 for data on top of your basic service. For billing purposes, when you establish a Project Fi account, you will be asked

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February 2018

SOUTHWINDS

www.southwindsmagazine.com

Southwinds February 2018  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds February 2018  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...