How do you get wifi on a narrowboat?

There are a couple of ways to get WiFi on your narrowboat, and the best option depends on your needs and budget. Here’s a rundown of four possibilities depending on your location, coverage and moorings:

Mobile Hotspot:

This is a simple solution that uses a mobile internet connection, just like your phone. You’ll need a mobile router and a SIM card with a data plan from a mobile provider. Mobile hotspots are easy to set up and use, but data usage can be expensive and signal strength can vary depending on location. EE tend to have the best coverage in rural areas, but are the most expensive. Three and it’s virtual partners (e.g. Smarty, ID Mobile etc) tend do be cheaper for data, but coverage can be patchy when out of city areas.

External Antenna and Router:

This option offers a stronger and more reliable internet connection than a mobile hotspot. It involves installing an external antenna on your narrowboat to boost the mobile signal. The antenna is then connected to a mobile router which creates a wifi network for your devices. This setup is more powerful than a mobile hotspot, but also requires more installation and may be pricier.

Marina WIFI:

Many Marinas now offer secure WIFI on a free or paid basis.  This can be an easy option to connect your narrowboat to the internet when moored-up.  Check our moorings directory and find marina’s that do offer wifi.


Starlink is now available in The UK and a new option many boaters are considering.  You pay a monthly subscription of roughly £75 (similar to a monthly broadband subscription). Instead of connecting to the internet through a wifi or mobile signal, you connect through a satellite receiver placed on the roof of the narrowboat.  It is still relatively expensive, but could be an option for those needing a dependable high speed internet connection in even the remotest parts of the canal network.

Here are some additional things to consider:

Data Usage: Be sure to choose a data plan with enough data for your needs. Streaming movies or videos will use a lot of data quickly.

Signal Strength: Signal strength can vary depending on where you are on the canal. An external antenna can help improve signal strength, but there may be times when you have no signal at all. EE is generally considered the best for coverage, but is also the most expensive.


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