Keep connected, Should I turn my boat into a WIFI "Hot Spot"
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Sat Jul 1, 2017 at 10:17am

Should I turn my narrowboat into a WIFI "Hot Spot"


Wi-Fi hotspots are usually available in marinas, bars, cafes or even a neighbouring boat, however the low power of devices such as mobile phones and tablets do not always allow connection due to range limitations.

To connect over longer distances or to get a strong signal from all over a narrowboat, a Wi-Fi range extender can greatly help. Range extenders can come in two forms:

1. Smart booster antennas: These have the software built into the antenna unit with a cable that uses a simple Ethernet connector.

2. Wi-Fi antenna and smart box: These systems have their software fitted in a box usually mounted below deck, rather than in the antenna itself.


Advantages of using Wi-Fi on board

  • Only one Wi-Fi connection to make

  • Usually unlimited data

  • Speeds are quite fast

  • Usually free or very low cost

Disadvantages of using Wi-Fi on board

  • Very short range – less than a mile without booster

  • Inconsistent availability

  • Not secure


Mobile phone data

Another way to get Internet access is to use an existing mobile plan. Depending on your needs or the need of the Narrowboat, the money spent on an antenna/smart box could be spent on purchasing a higher data allowance.

The problem with this is ‘dead spots’. To avoid a dead spot additional equipment will be needed such as a signal booster.


To make this option even more expansive and connect other devices, you can also usually set the phone up as a hotspot. 


Advantages of using mobile phone data on board

  • Medium range up to 15 miles

  • Can be fast

  • Can use the same phone plan ashore 

Disadvantages of using mobile phone data on board

  • Most data plans are capped

Combined Wi-Fi and mobile connections

If affordable, the key is to go for a system that gives the widest range of internet connection possibilities and a system that is easily upgradeable. The better the quality of components, the lower the risk of lost transmissions.

If you have a Wifi system on your boat, please let us know ?

Happy cruising from Venetian Marina.

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