Use your Android phone to call other people on ship for free

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#21
971 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by Sizzlechest
Connect your phones to any WiFi router and disable the existing phone network, but turn WiFi back on. Click here to learn how in more detail. If you can make a call to the other phone through Serval Mesh, you'll be good to go for your cruise. Just connect to the ship's wifi and you're good to go.
Thanks--both phones must have Serval Mesh installed? My husband has an Iphone--is Serval Mesh available for that? I know it would be easiest to just look up in the app store--but he does not like it when I touch his phone
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#23
Denver CO.
288 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Originally posted by MingusBigBand
I don't see how this will work without paying for data. Without logging into the cruise ship's wifi you cannot transmit or receive data.
I'm no expert, but perhaps my conceptual understanding will help some.

All routers have two sides. There's the internet (Wan) side, and then there's the local side. You are on the local side. To talk to the router (Or anyone else) you need an IP address, and the routers local DHCP freely gives you a local one. That's the primary purpose of a router, to separate networks, not allowing unnecessary data to cross over. Generally, the router doesn't care about local traffic, it only monitors what crosses over from one network to the other, and you have to be logged on for that to happen!

On my home network I have a printer and several computers attached (On the local side). When I print, or talk to other local computers that data doesn't cross over to the (Wan) internet side. Only my internet traffic crosses over to the Wan side.

In this case, both phones are on the local side of the router. Both pick up a local IP address from the router, but since they are only talking to one another no data crosses over to the WAN side, and the router doesn't really care about that data and doesn't restrict it. In general cruise ship passengers don't want to talk to one another, the want internet access, so there isn't any big need or push to restrict local traffic.

That may be a very simplistic, non techie view, but I hope it helps.
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#24
Palm City, Fl
3,636 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
My wife and I have identical motorola (android) phones. We installed this program. Set our phones with airplane mode 'on' and wifi 'on'.

Then we tried to use it to call each other (in our house over our own wifi). It worked fine!!!

I called her, she called me...sounded like a regular phone call.

We are gonna try it on our next cruise (November).
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#26
Brasil
15 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by Sizzlechest
OneStrangeGuy: You explained it perfectly.

thinfool: Report back when you do!
If, to used the ship's Internet service, you need a 'password', and they tell you there will be charge to used that, MAYBE this app will cause data traffic charges. But then, they will need to register your phone's MAC address, so they can charge.
I really think they charge for Internet traffic only. You connect to a 'unsecured' WiFi network, login with the user/password you got for the service, then use the Net. They charge on the 'proxy exit', not the 'router entrace'.
But, if you are able to see he WiFi net and connect to it with no key asked, this will work.
Cuddos for think about that, I will use this! Thankx.
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#27
Kentucky
172 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
After reading some of this I think it might work. My problem is that I don't have an android. Anyone know if this or similar is available for iOS?
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#28
IL
334 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Great tip! Can't wait to try it during our December cruise! Hubby and I both have android phones and my kids both have android mp3 players. I installed the app on all of them, put the phones in airplane mode and turned wifi on on all of them. I unplugged my dsl and was able to make calls between all of the devices. The biggest surprise was the kids' mp3 players behaved just like phones, the speakers and mics all lined up perfectly. They thought that was really cool!
#29
SWFL
49 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
We tried it on the Carnival Liberty on our September cruise and it did not work. We both had android phones, and at home, it worked perfectly, but on the cruise ship, they would not ring. We believed they blocked the necessary port that would have allowed it to work. We tried it at port using a paid wifi service in St Thomas and it worked there, but back on ship, it did not work.
Although, we were able to obtain an IP for the two connections, I believe the port was blocked,since we do not know what port the program was using, there was no way to change the port.

My conspiracy theory is that the cruise line reps, follow the threads, and take the necessary steps needed.
#31
Charleston, SC
3,400 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Originally posted by askjojo
We tried it on the Carnival Liberty on our September cruise and it did not work. We both had android phones, and at home, it worked perfectly, but on the cruise ship, they would not ring. We believed they blocked the necessary port that would have allowed it to work. We tried it at port using a paid wifi service in St Thomas and it worked there, but back on ship, it did not work.
Although, we were able to obtain an IP for the two connections, I believe the port was blocked,since we do not know what port the program was using, there was no way to change the port.

My conspiracy theory is that the cruise line reps, follow the threads, and take the necessary steps needed.
My brother sent me this explanation:

"In case you don't understand mesh, it the ability for a bunch of gadgets (in this case phones) to broadcast locally using wi-fi and connect with other phones running the same software in the local area and form a network that data can then travel over.* Since phones probably have a BEST range of 100-150 feet, you'd need to have another user within that range to communicate with and then they would need somebody 100 feet further, etc.* You'd need 50 people strung out in a line just to call somebody a mile away."

So, it sounds like it worked in the house because you were close to each other but would not work on a cruise ship unless there were a bunch of other users...
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#32
1 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Hi, I'm one of the developers of the Serval Mesh software. Thanks for your interest in using our application on a boat outside of mobile coverage. We have thought of using our software in this situation, it's nice to see we weren't the only ones who thought of it.

No we don't have an iOS version of our application. It's android only at the moment.

There are a couple of reasons why you might not be able to use our software on a specific wifi network. The most likely reason is that the network operator may have enabled "client isolation". Basically this means that the broadcast network packets that Serval must send out to discover other Serval phones will be dropped by the network. It may still be possible for two phones to communicate, if they knew each others IP addresses.

We may in future add a manual option to send active scan packets to every device on the local network that you are connected to, so the phones could discover each other that way. Then you should be able to get one to call the other. Anyway, this is something we will think about as we work towards releasing a version 1.0 of our software.
#33
Palm City, Fl
3,636 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Ship: Island Princess
Date: Nov 12, 2012
Phone: Motorola Bravo
Android 2.2.1 (I think)
Servel Mesh ver. .08

My wife and I have identical phones, identical versions of Android, etc, etc.

Making a mesh call, phone to phone, worked very well on our floor (Plaza) of this ship. That's as far as it went. Efforts to call from the Lido to our room (8 floors away) or any other combination of areas did not work. Servel Mesh tried to complete the call, but immediately closed.

While I could guess as to the reasons for this, I am not tecchie enough to do so.

A question did arise tho...the ship has an in-house cellular system...does it actually use cell frequencies and protocols, or does it use some form of voip via the onboard LAN?
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#34
Daytona Beach, FL
431 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
this is one of the coolest ideas I've ever heard - and I'm tickled to see a developer stop in! mostly I'm just posting to subscribe and offer my kudos on the creative use of this (already very intriguing) technology
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#35
Pittsburgh, PA
44 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by lakeman_serval
There are a couple of reasons why you might not be able to use our software on a specific wifi network. The most likely reason is that the network operator may have enabled "client isolation". Basically this means that the broadcast network packets that Serval must send out to discover other Serval phones will be dropped by the network. It may still be possible for two phones to communicate, if they knew each others IP addresses.
If the problem truly is that the broadcast packets are being blocked, then there could be a solution. If you know the IPs of the two devices once on the ship, you could send point-to-point packets. I've been wanting to get more involved in Android programming myself, so this might be where I start. Perhaps a texting app that you can send messages to a specific IP address. Shouldn't be too difficult to program if you have any experience. We'll see what I can get done before my August cruise. Thanks for the inspiration!

And for others who are interested in this idea and only 1 smartphone in the family....you can use your old non-active smartphones. Since you only need wifi, you do not need an active phone service.
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#36
Brisbane
557 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
We tried to use this on a recent sun princess cruise, it worked as long as we were in the same zone of the ship, but not across decks, so i assume they have multiple routers around the ship creating multiple small networks
#37
Sedro Woolley, WA
394 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Once the cruise ships get wind of it, they will start charging a pretty penny for it...
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#38
United States
10 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
There are a host of ways that this could be unsuccessful. Comercial wireless routers don't work in quite the same way that a home router does, especially if it is setup for billing purposes.

Some routers have total isolation for non-authenticated devices. You get a sub net of 2 addresses, your device and the router. No traffic goes anywhere else until you log in to the splash page, even if you know the ip of another device. Many setups will have multiple routers with a central billing proxy. This will result in regions of the ship being able to talk to each other, but each router has it's own address pool and NAT.

What you are hoping to find is a network of distributed antenna's with a common controler and a billing proxy and isolation disabled. Not an entirely uncommon setup as it is one of the easier ones to troubleshoot and build.

Very cool idea but really going to be a crap-shoot if it works on a given ship or not.
#39
FL
66 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
this does sound really cool and geeky even fun to get to work,...but just take some walkie talkies with you and your all set. I really dont want to take my 200$ smart phone with me to be left poolside and be stolen or get wet while im swimming.

Walkie Talkies are just so much cheaper and if it gets stolen oh well. you will sometimes find other people on the same channel but thats just more fun to be had
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#40
Ft Lauderdale suburbs
56 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by Bandet
this does sound really cool and geeky even fun to get to work,...but just take some walkie talkies with you and your all set. I really dont want to take my 200$ smart phone with me to be left poolside and be stolen or get wet while im swimming.

Walkie Talkies are just so much cheaper and if it gets stolen oh well. you will sometimes find other people on the same channel but thats just more fun to be had
There are hundreds of ppl shouting in the same walkie-talkie frequency, which makes communication impossible.

Any recent update on serval mesh on board?
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