Boat E-mailThe modern world demands that we stay in touch and e-mail is how we do it. Solving the e-mail problem is mostly a business decision, but solving it is a difficult problem. There are technical solutions to connecting to the Internet while you are traveling, but there are a wide variety of prices and variables to the various solutions.
The Phone ConnectionThe most basic way to connect to the internet is via a telephone. You can connect using a traditional land-based phone line, a cell phone, or a satallite phone. Land-based lines are not feasible when you are traveling on a sailboat, but they can be used when visiting friends. Satallite phones are both expensive and slow (half the connection speed of cell phones). Which leaves a cell phone as the best solution to connecting to the Internet.
Cell PhoneWe arranged for a French mobile phone (cell phones don't exist in Europe -- they are called mobile phones instead). Arranging for a European mobile phone can be quite a challenage. We managed it with a lot of help from a close friend of ours in France. You can read the details in an entry from David's diary:
Internet Service ProviderA cell phone can provide you with access to the Internet, but the question is what phone number do you dial with the cell phone? Our principle Internet service provider is based in Western Canada. While we can access our e-mail and Web site from anywhere in the world, we would have to dial telephone numbers in North America. To reduce the connection cost, we must have local European phone numbers to call to connect to the Internet.
We use ATT Business services (www.attbusiness.net) to provide local access to the Internet. We tried using Compuserve, but the lack of local telephone numbers, technical problems in accessing the numbers that were suppose to work, and the complete lack of customer service made us change to the ATT service. We are still monitoring the costs involved, but having email onboard Dragonsinger is an expensive and difficult process. But keeping in touch with our world-wide network of friends and associates is well worth it.