T-Mobile WiFi Calling on a Ship

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here.

When you are aboard an industrial, commercial, or cruise ship it is very expensive to make calls. The rates range from $5 to $15 a minute.

Internet is also expensive, but it works out to about 25₵ a minute. It’s slow as a dog, but it is all that there is.

I had occasion to inspect the telecommunications facilities of a commercial ship and in so doing I got access to their onboard WiFi. The WiFi was very slow, averaging about 50 kilobits per second, and often slower.

I noticed a very curious thing while connected to the ship’s WiFi: “T-Mobile WiFi” appeared on my iPhone. This means that T-Mobile’s WiFi calling activated while I was on the high seas. Curious, I placed a call back home. The call was crystal clear without any break-ups or jitter. We talked for 20 minutes and other than the noticeable satellite delay the connection was perfect.

I asked around and my experience was typical: T-Mobile WiFi calling works aboard commercial and cruise ships and is a great way to make calls. while internet is 25₵ minute, this is super-cheap compared with the $10 a minute that some charge for calling from a ship.

Back to my inspection of facilities: I have to say that the cabling aboard a ship is some of the finest I have ever seen. The folks who lay cables on a ship are disciplined and precise. Even in the best days of the old Bell System I rarely saw cables this well laid. The radiuses of wires were formed and perfect. Cables were bundled and always labeled. I mean, everything was obsessively labeled. Firestopping was never omitted when cables went into a conduit or from one floor or compartment to another.

The onboard obsession for precise wiring extended everywhere I saw. The sound systems, the electrical systems, the alarm and environmental monitoring systems were all old-school where perfection was more important than cost. It was very unreal.

I know there are still cable artists out there. But they are rare. Their work is a joy to see.

Here is a link to a really fun web page with some wiring examples:

Here are some of my favorites