Recently I wrote about how the physics of radio waves results in challenges for antenna makers based on the frequency used. For voyagers who are using a variety of radio services, from VHF to HF SSB to satellite services like Iridium, Globalstar and, of course, utilities like GPS and radar, a boat can become something of an antenna farm of different shapes and sizes. A new combo antenna unit from Winegard Marine is a great example of this antenna-heavy trend.
The Winegard WF-200M is a combined antenna that can receive signals on both Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies. With its lozenge-like base and five sprouting vertical antennas, the WF-200M looks a little like a cross between a pitchfork and a UFO. The WF-200M antenna combines a long-range, high-performance Wi-Fi signal extender with built-in nationwide 4G LTE cellular. The result is that whether you’re in harbor or within 10 or 20 miles of the coast, this unit will keep you connected to Wi-Fi and cellular coverage for Internet and email.
According to Winegard, the unit “accesses and boosts available shoreside Wi-Fi signals for improved Wi-Fi access, signal strength and reliability.” Winegard also offers connectivity plans with the antenna unit. “To meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy boaters and provide them with a practical, affordable mobile connectivity solution, the WF-200M comes with Winegard’s “pay-as-you-go” ConnecT 4G LTE data program — meaning there are no annual contracts, activation fees or monthly bills. To accommodate a range of needs and boating lifestyles, Winegard offers a range of affordable, pre-loaded data plans ranging from 1 GB to 20 GB. It’s easy for boaters to choose the prepaid monthly data plan that makes sense for them using a credit card on the Winegard ConnecT WF-200M website.”
Who knows, maybe Winegard will add a satellite antenna component and that unit will come even closer to being an all-in-one antenna farm for voyagers.