THE MASSIVE HUMPBACK WHALE surfaced and nonchalantly swam toward , my dad’s J/44, off the port bow, lackadaisically passing within a few feet. Dad’s boat, which weighs more than 11 tons, felt utterly minuscule. Cameras materialized as we killed the engine on that windless August morning off Provincetown, Massachusetts. This was in 2006, so we had no way of sharing our images instantly, and by the time our enormous friend grew bored and dove deep, leaving us to hoist sail in a thinly gathering breeze, our cellphones had gone dark. This whale’s tale would have to stay among friends and family, at least until we crossedsignal coverage,” Bennett says. ¶ For its initial rollout, the TracPhone LTE-1 will only work on U.S. waters, but the Middletown, Rhode Island-based manufacturer plans to expand its LTE horizons. “With our future plans to go beyond U.S. waters with the TracPhone LTE product,” Bennett says, “we will explore LTE solutions with multiple SIM cards.” ¶ While the LTE-1 is designed to appeal to coastal and Great Lakes cruisers, it will also provide faster, cheaper data to existing mini-VSAT Broadband customers. ¶ “We designed the TracPhone LTE-1 to work seamlessly with our VSAT systems,” Bennett says, adding that once a TracPhone LTE-1 is networked with a mini-VSAT Broadband dome, “KVH systems can be configured to provide seamless, least-cost routing, so the customer will receive the most affordable connectivity at any given time while on the water.” ¶ To achieve this system flexibility, users must pay an initial configuration fee and buy KVH’s CommBox Service Bundle subscription, costs that are offset by the low per-gigabyte price of transmitting data over cellular — rather than satellite — networks, especially for habitually data-heavy users. ¶ So, if you’re in the market for a fast and more affordable way to bridge your vessel’s satellite-communications equipment with your personal smartphone, or if you’re interested in using a long-distance cellular router as your primary means of maintaining cloud cover while boating, then KVH’s TracPhone LTE-1 could be worth consideration. Not only can it help you share your latest encounters from much farther offshore than with a smartphone antenna, but it does so without overtaxing the cruising kitty.

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