If trouble has hit, and the internet has stopped working or the connectivity has ground to snails-pace, just as your guest tries to access his email, or stream his favourite song… the alarm is rung in so many ways, and the rush to solve the mystery hampers all normal activity.
In this article I’ll run you through some of the primary reasons why problems occur, and what you can do before you call for help. Even if you cannot resolve it completely, having checked the basics will accelerate finding a solution ten-fold.
The connection to the internet is built up of 5 components;
Your ISP or Internet Service Provider with whom you contracted connectivity to the Internet, this may be via satellite, mobile network, or whilst in port through the harbour WIFI or via landline (hard wired to the dock).
On board the first stop is a Router, which basically is the gateway for all the internet traffic. This gateway also often functions as the firewall (it can be a separate appliance, but often is integrated within the router). Some gateways have a functional user interface that allows you to control what and who has access to the internet, who has priority and what path is used to reach the internet. Routers permit you to set rules that allow certain devices only to connect when internet is available through the “cheaper” links like mobile networks, but not when the only connectivity is via satellite. It also builds “virtual” private networks (VLANs) that separate various “data traffic” to ensure critical services are not interfered with less important traffic. Keep ship internal functions separate from guest traffic, or ensure the AV services do not and are not interrupted by personal crew browsing.
After the Router you have the Core Switch, basically the unit that executes the connectivity between all devices as set by the rules of the router, and the design of the VLANs as explained above.
Then come the Access Switches, all the devices are connected here. This can be a rack unit mounted close to the Router, and may have core switch functions integrated, or these are more remotely located like the WIFI access points (AP).
And the 5th component are the end user devices, the units that the user interacts with, and in reality, for most the only visible unit of importance. Note that these are not only the tablet, laptop computer, or mobile phone, but also the printer, scanner, AV connected appliances. Here you also find all the other devices like your security and CCTV system, monitoring devices, and let’s not forget all the IOT (Internet of Things!) devices.
So, you have found yourself in the situation that internet has been cut off. Well the first thing you want to do is identify where in the chain your problem lies. To quickly evaluate where the actual issue lies. All assumptions aside, the connectivity to the internet can always be separated into 3 portions. The connection between your device and the onboard network, be it via WIFI or hardwired via cable.
The onboard network (is it connected to the ISP) and finally the ISP, is it fully up and running? Meaning is the network not oversaturated due to high network usage.
Out of the 3 possibilities above, the first two are nearly always the most likely trouble areas, but with a bit of knowledge you should quickly be able to identify where. So before making that call to shore support, a few checks may actually remedy the problem, or highlight an issue that needs to be addressed during the next maintenance period.
First the basic checks, are you connected to the network, does your device show connectivity (antenna signal, or ethernet symbol without any alarm). Do local services work, access to network shared storage, can you print, control the AV system. All these tasks have nothing to do with the internet, and only affect the local network. So, ask yourself, are you connected locally?
Check if all units are powered up, has there been any equipment failures. Check if you are connected to the router. From a computer execute the PING command. Ping the router, and see if you get a reply.
Do multiple devices share the same symptoms? Are you able to reach popular websites (bing.com, google.com, yahoo.com). Again try the Ping command to these sites.
If you find yourself still not connected to the internet, check the satellite link (does your satellite modem say it has a link, are you in the shadow of the mast?), are you still in range of the mobile network, have you exceeded your data limit. Are you cut due to one of the router rules (change of the connectivity path has cut certain devices?). Did someone just trip over your landline wire!?
80% of the time, you’ll find the reason is right before your eyes, and the solution isn’t always black magic!