Smartphones have limited receiver sensitivity because of very small antennas, and limited transmit power, not just because of their very small antennas but also because power output is restricted to extend battery life. The same is true of laptops, albeit less so. Our system iincludes an 8dB antenna that improves receiver sensitivity by about 6 times, and the full, legally allowed, transmit power of 4 watts is well over 100 times the transmit power of a typical smartphone.
The only work that may require a professional is the installation of a standard 1"-14 antenna mount, and connecting the supplied wiring harness to the house batteries. If a 110vac adapter option is purchased instead, then even that step is not required as long as a 110vac outlet is available.
Whether the work involved requires a professional to be involved or not would be up to the boat owner.
There is no software installation or configuration required for the WiFi system itself. The system is supplied completely pre-configured, including your choice of name for the local access point (typically your boat's name) and password for accessing the local access point. Just install, power up and use!
The WiFi access point included with the system can support a dozen or more connected devices (laptops, smartphones, TVs, etc).
The recommended way is to use our app on a compatible mobile device (iOS/Android). Selecting a hotspot is as simple as choosing it from a list, and entering the password if necessary.
If you don't have a mobile device, you can use a laptop and a standard web browser to connect to the built-in management interface, and then select and connect to the hotspot of your choice. (This takes a little longer than using the app, which is why we recommend the first method where possible.)
Either way, full instructions are included with your purchase.
We use high-quality network components that implement industry-standard security measures. As configured after purchase, only people who are given the password to your network will be able to join and use it.
The radio device inside our antenna enclosure is already environmentally sealed to a rating of IP65 ("..spraying with water for at least 3 minutes from all directions should have no harmful effects.."), and our enclosure provides an additional layer of UV and water protection.
The bottom line: we have never had a unit fail from environmental damage in the field.
There are many environmental factors which can impact WiFi signal quality, even with a powerful radio like the one used in our system. Some marinas with very low-quality WiFi installations don't improve much with any WiFi boosters, and some are still usable for high quality video streaming 2nm offshore.
We use the best quality network components available, and our product meets or exceeds the performance of every other product on the market. The real advantage of the Coastal Marine WiFi system lies in its ease of use, since most other vendors don't provide convenient mobile apps for connecting to hotspots -- but we have the software expertise to make it happen.
We offer a 1 year warranty on all parts, provided the system has been installed according to the provided instructions.