For several years the number one request at Paradise Village Marina has been better Internet speeds. Simply put, providing Wi-Fi access to boats just isn’t reliable enough, or stable enough, to provide boaters a connection they can use for work, have their children attend remote learning classes, and enjoy IPTV services simultaneously. Our solution: FTTP (Fiber To The Premises).
In the past, Paradise Village Marina had two Internet options available to our boating community, Wi-Fi or DSL. With the large number of wireless radios sharing the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands it becomes a near impossibility to ensure fast and reliable coverage in a marina environment. DSL connections provide Internet access over telephone lines however speeds are limited and the reliability was poor due to the harsh conditions copper cables suffer from by being so close to the ocean environment. Likewise, coax cables have a tendency to soak up moisture even when ‘properly sealed’ and a copper clad steel conductor can completely dissolve in a day when submerged with voltage applied. The Paradise Village Marina wanted a solution that was capable of providing our marina clients a fast and reliable solution as well as being as future-proof as possible.
Fiber optics was the obvious solution however it posed some unique challenges as well. First and foremost none of the Internet providers in the area were willing to install fiber services on the docks. The Paradise marina contacted a computer engineering company Digiservices International who’s chief engineer, Gray Capo, designed the system, sold us all equipment and tools needed, trained our existing maintenance staff in fiber optic technology, and supervised the installation.
Paradise Village Marina installed a GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) system with ONUs (fiber optic modems) in each slip. GPON systems have a unique advantage over other systems as all connections between the head-end servers and the slips are all optically passive, meaning there are no electricity requirements except for the servers and at the slip itself. Because of the relatively short distances from the marina office to each slip, less than 800 meters in our case, all fiber optic splices could be made using simple low cost mechanical connectors. This eliminated the need for expensive fiber fusion splicing techniques and allows our onsite maintenance staff to easily test and repair the fiber connections.
While we installed extra fibers that can be used should the need arise, we decided to start with one fiber per dock. This provides up to 2,500 Megabits of bandwidth per dock or an average of 39 Megabits of sustained bandwidth per boat or slip. Should an increase in bandwidth be needed, enabling a second fiber on each dock would double those numbers. Additionally, the type of fibers used, mono-mode, can be used to send Internet, video, phone and more simultaneously.
The interesting thing with fiber is that different colors of light, measured in nanometers (nm), can be used on the same fiber at the same time and mixed and separated passively without affecting each other. Therefore, Internet use does not have any effect on the same fiber’s ability to carry video for example. In our case the 1310nm and 1490nm frequencies are used for the GPON network while the 1550nm frequency is available for CATV distribution while 1610nm remains available for a separate data network for the security camera system.
While there is a steep learning curve jumping from copper to fiber, as well as a new set of troubleshooting tools, the low entry cost of fiber optic cabling as well as it being almost impervious to weather and electronic interference makes it a perfect long term solution for the marina environment. Paradise Village Marina now offers our guests three different Internet speeds with the lowest tier being free and the highest tier capable of running multiple simultaneous video streams satisfying the Internet needs of the even the most bandwidth hungry devices. Because of the reliability of a hard-line Ethernet connection being available at all slips, we have seen a significant jump in reservations from boaters moving here solely because of our ability to meet their Internet needs.
Dick Markie Paradise Village Marina