Wave WiFi MBR, a Swiss Army knife of a boat router

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

11 Responses

  1. It’s great to see marine-specific vendors start delivering higher quality solutions for on-board networking. I’ve used Wave’s WiFi boosters in the past, and their software is very nice. This one looks even better.

    However, there is one big hole – the lack of 5Ghz for the internal AP. 5Ghz has been around for over 5 years, and is the standard that most newer hardware works best with. In fact, I cannot use 2.4Ghz in my home marina, and at least 2 other marinas due to channel contention and interference. It sounds like you are having similar challenges 🙂

    I also think only having one SIM slot is a limitation, but not one that would prevent me from purchasing it. All of the other $1000+ systems I’ve tested have this. Yes, you can tether a USB device but that is not the same as having one built in for ease of switching and rules and safety.

    Hopefully someone will come out with a marine-specific solution that has 5Ghz as well as the rest of the features. This one sure comes close!

  2. Jason says:

    Does it work in Europe? Or is it like glomex where I have to buy a different model

  3. Richard says:

    I can always tell when my neighbor in the anchorage has a Wave product. My internet speed drops. With the “user-friendly interface software” having the “Output Power” set to it’s highest, it wipes out everyone else. There are many Caribbean WiFi providers that are tired of the complaints from non-Wave users because they think it’s due to the provider. WAVE should change this in their software and allow the user to lower the power so ALL the boaters in the field can get decent speeds. I know that one provider has contacted WAVE and they don’t seem to care.

    • Leftbrainstuff says:

      I’ve never met anyone who would willingly lower their wifi power for the benefit of others. I think that is wishful thinking. Give a human an internet connection and they will turn into psychos to protect it.

      It’s the age old problem of telco providers not able or willing to keep up with demand, older hardware and software that buffers and of course wifi is highly dependent on radio propogation path.

      While 5G is nice it is significantly degraded by masts, rigging and distance of most berths from the 5g tower. We spent time in a PNW marina equipped with a very good commercial system. (owner was a CFO of a telco) . I spent significant time mapping the wifi quality. The service would still be considered poor, with massive variability compared to land based solutions. Older hardware (routers, smart tvs, etc) can be problematic in how they persist connections. They simply do not play well with connection swapping.

      We are seeing significant interest and investment in smaller satellites. Ultiimately all yacht internet and cellular comms will be via LEO and MEO satellite. Much less issues with line of sight but weather will remain a significant QoS variable.

      We have redundancy between all our cellular, wifi, fixed line and satellite connections. I’ve avoided the fully integrated option as swapping between cellular and wifi, rarely offers QoS for real time comms. Most of our systems are asynchronous including our digital business.

      • Grant Jenkins says:

        What Richard is referring to, and rightly so, is the NEEDLESS overpowering of the AP by individuals using devices with “user-friendly” interfaces, that do not allow for adjustment to the EIRP. Broadcasting at full-power when there is already a strong signal available does nothing to improve the connection of the unwitting offender, but DOES in fact degrade the connection of everyone else using the same AP. I posted another comment on this here with an appropriate analogy –
        https://staging.panbo.com/using-a-wifi-bridge-to-connect-your-boat-to-the-internet-interfaces-compared/

        User-friendly is great, as far as it goes – but it really ought to have an auto-adjustment feature that automatically adjusts output power to match the available signal strength by default –

  4. Anonymous says:

    There are way to many « but » combined with reliability issue for the price. I am suprised the product is recommended. Usually I like that this site will express mixed opinions.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Anonymous,

      I can appreciate your conclusion there are too many buts with the MBRs, but (another one!) I do think that of the current options out there it is one of the strongest contenders.

      Stability was a concern early on in the testing, however, over the last several months I have seen very good results with the router just chugging along.

      I do agree whole-heartedly with Steve that I wish the client side WiFi network was 2.4 & 5ghz. On my boat I’ve solved that with a $90 Ubiquiti access point placed in a strategic location that covers the entire boat nicely.

      If you are comfortable building your own solution you can certainly put something together for less money. In the products designed and marketed for the marine market Wave comes in at a competitive price with a nice feature set and easy to use interface. It’s based on that criteria that I give it favorable marks.

      Ben

  5. DouglasP says:

    Thanks for the review and great that it has good software and interface BUT:
    No 5ghz????
    For $ 1,500.00?
    Serious?
    A number of marinas these days are letting their 2.4 die on the vine *IF* they have well supported 5ghz.
    Sunset Bay in Stuart is a great example. The 5ghz is very, very good at almost all slips, meaning your phone or tablet or even Smart TV has no issues with the 5ghz, can stream faster at the waterline, inside your hull next to your microwave, from the 5ghz antenna a few slip away, than it can from the 2.4 coming thru your router that’s getting it’s signal from the end of the dock.
    No incentive for a marina to “fix/improve” the 2.4 if no one is using it..
    I have a perfectly serviceable Coastal Marine WiFi unit that I bought in 2015 at Ben’s recommendation that works great ***IF*** the 2.4 has strength and bandwidth. and adding cellular with a stick or jetpack works just fine for me.
    But at Sunset, I don’t even bother to turn it on…..
    So a $1k or worse $1.5k price point without 5ghz?
    Not for me.
    That said, when it comes out as DUAL BAND, I’ll happily pay the higher-end ticket.

  6. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Douglas,

    There’s an important detail I think you’re missing here. The MBRs don’t do the WAN side WiFi bridging. The expectation is you will plug in a WiFi bridge for that purpose. So, if dual-band is important to you (and I fully agree it should be) you simply use a dual-band WiFi bridge.

    The 2.4ghz only WiFi I referenced is the client side network (your devices connected to your router) and that too can be easily worked around with a dual-band access point. I also agree it’s disappointing that’s not standard at this point but I’ve noticed nearly all the marine WiFi folks missing this important detail.

    Ben S.

    • DouglasP says:

      Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the clarification. Obviously, I missed that WAN side bit!

      But now I think feel it’s even more expensive for what you don’t get! 😉
      Doug

  1. May 20, 2019

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