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BC Ferries will be receiving up to $1.5 million in grant funding through the Ministry of Citizen’s Services’ Connecting British Columbia program to provide Wi-Fi service at 14 additional ferry terminals, bringing the total number of terminals with free Wi-Fi to 21.

This partnership helps meet the provincial government’s goal to keep British Columbians connected by introducing this Wi-Fi at our properties by late Fall 2021.
 

Wi-Fi Phishing

BC Ferries does not ask for credit card details or personal information to use Wi-Fi networks at terminals or on board vessels. Any unlocked Wi-Fi network that purports to be “bcferries” and asks for credit card or personal information should be considered malicious. Please report any suspicious networks to a BC Ferries’ terminal attendant or the Chief Steward’s Office.

 

Terminals where free Wi-Fi service will be introduced

  • Bella Bella (McLoughlin Bay)
  • Cormorant Island (Alert Bay)
  • Cortes Island (Whaletown)
  • Denman Island East (Gravelly Bay)
  • Gabriola Island (Descanso Bay)
  • Galiano Island (Sturdies Bay)
  • Nanaimo (Nanaimo Harbour)
  • Pender Island (Otter Bay)
  • Port Hardy (Bear Cove)
  • Quadra Island (Heriot Bay)
  • Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour)
  • Salt Spring Island (Vesuvius Bay)
  • Saturna Island (Lyall Harbour)
  • Vancouver Island (Buckley Bay)


The coverage of Wi-Fi will be within BC Ferries’ terminals, including public lounges, vehicle holding compounds and where practical, parking lots.

Reliable, high-speed Internet service at terminals helps you better access online ferry service information and the internet for personal use.

 

Terminals that currently have Wi-Fi

  • Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
  • Nanaimo (Duke Point)
  • Sunshine Coast (Langdale)
  • Sunshine Coast (Saltery Bay)
  • Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay)
  • Vancouver (Tsawwassen)
  • Victoria (Swartz Bay)


 

Removing less reliable Wi-Fi from our ships

As of July 5, 2021, we are removing public Wi-Fi service from ferries on the following routes:

  • Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay)
  • Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
  • Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Sunshine Coast (Langdale)

Extensive research and analysis of various technology solutions has shown it is not possible to improve the Wi-Fi service on our ferries to the level expected by users and we continually receive complaints about the quality and reliability of the service.

We introduced the ship-based Wi-Fi service through the use of our own land-based radio devices in 2010. Since then, the number of customers accessing the service has increased substantially, which has impacted the quality and reliability of the service. Numerous domestic and international service providers studied ways to improve the system and no solutions were found. 

We understand this is a change for customers. Many of our routes have cellular phone coverage, enabling travellers to use their data plans to access digital services.
 

Frequently asked questions

Why is BC Ferries removing Wi-Fi on board?

The existing Wi-Fi service runs on a ship-to-shore network using wireless network radios which we would need to upgrade and certify under newer, stricter Radio Frequency (RF) regulations. These newer radio devices have a large reduction in the amount of power we can apply to its network radios, which would further reduce the reliability and quality of on board Wi-Fi.

Installing the new devices also has a high cost, and we would need to pass these costs on to our customers.

Will Wi-Fi service still be available at terminals?

Complimentary Wi-Fi service will continue to be available at many terminals, including Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen, Horseshoe Bay, Langdale, Departure Bay, Duke Point and Saltery Bay.

Why can’t BC Ferries use satellite or cellular technology to provide Wi-Fi?

Satellite and cellular connectivity provide far less bandwidth and the cost is significant to provide a reliable customer experience.

Customers on a BC Ferries vessel can still connect to the Internet using their mobile cellular data, when available.

Why can't BC Ferries continue to offer Wi-Fi in its current form?

Since its introduction in 2010, the number of passengers on a ferry accessing Wi-Fi has gone from about 40-50 users to over 900 users, resulting in connectivity issues. Under new radio standards, we will not be able to cover the same distances as we do today.

To provide a reliable service requires new technology solutions at a very high cost which would need to be passed on to our customers.

How can other transportation companies provide Wi-Fi?

Airlines connect via satellite or ground-based cellular and some charge customers for this service. This will not support the 900 users we see on our largest ferries. Cruise ships also use satellite which is easily accessible closer to the equator.

The satellites available at our high northern latitudes are limited and would still not provide an adequate service for the number of users, and would be very costly.