How to get FREE Wifi on a narrowboat

So you know how to get internet onto your narrowboat thanks to our article “How to get internet on a narrowboat” which will give you fast and reliable internet for all of your streaming needs. However for those of you who don’t want to have to sign up to a 12, 18 or 24 month data plan and are happy to less reliable for completely free internet we have another solution for you. So here’s how to get FREE Wifi on a narrowboat.

how to get free wifi on a narrowboat
Finding free Wifi

What you’ll need

We’ve used this exact method in our campervan for the last 2 years in order to get free WiFi all around Europe and the UK and it couldn’t be simpler. We use device called the iBoost which is essentially a small router and a WiFi repeater. What this means is that you can set up your iBoost in your boat and point your antennae at a WiFi source in the distance, be it a country pub a few km away, a McDonalds, Starbucks, service station or hotel all of whom have open WiFi networks, connect the iBoost to one of these networks and it will repeat this WiFi network into your boat via the router.

How to set up your FREE WiFi

But rather than just tell you about the iBoost I thought I will show you exactly how you go about setting it up to pick up free WiFi whilst also giving you an example of how good it is.

First thing you need to do with your iBoost is to plug it into a 12v socket, mains 240v adaptors are available but don’t come as standard in this kit. This will power on the router as well as the antennae and then simply follow these steps

1.Connect your device to the iBoost in exactly the same way you would connect to any other WiFi. Simply look in the list of available networks on your laptop, phone or tablet and choose iBoost, log in using the password found on your router and you are now connected.

2.Go to in your internet browser. In the navigation bar where you would usually put in a web address such as type and press ENTER

3.Log into the iBoost controls. Using the username and password which is included as part of your kit log into the iBoost control system which looks like this:

4. Go to the WIRELESS tab

5. Scan for available networks using the SCAN button. Once you press SCAN you will be provided with a list of all of the networks that the antennae can pick up. The antennae provided is what is known as a directional antennae, this means that it can only pick up signals from the direction it has been pointed. It has about a 90 degree range so if you are struggling to find signals in one direction just turn it 90 degrees and see what else you can find.

6. Select a relevant network. You are provided with a list of available WiFi networks and so now you need to select one. You are looking for 2 things when you are selecting a network. Firstly you are looking for how strong the signal is, you can see that in the column called Signal/Noise. You are looking for the ones where both numbers are as close to 100 as possible.

The second thing you are looking for is those without protection, as you can see from the picture, these are marked as NONE and from the WiFi names you will notice they are mostly petrol stations, hotels and supermarkets. Select the network your want to connect to and press the Select button at the bottom of the list.

7. Apply the network. Now that you have selected the network you simply need to apply it to the iBoost and because we have chosen one without a password to protect it we will simply be logged in.

Click Change to apply the new network
Click Apply to finish the connecting to the network

Now that you have the network connected you have to wait for about a minute for the iBoost to work its magic and you will be able to start surfing the web. As you can see from my example I have connected to Tesco WiFi which is 1.1 km away as the crow flies and I am writing this article while connected to some FREE WiFi.

As I said earlier, we used this method to get WiFi for the last 2 years in our campervan and have brought the technology to our boat. When we’re cruising the cut and want WiFi we can use this and connect, it’s a great way to save on our limited data should we want to download large files or upload to our YouTube channel and is so simple to set up. We really recommend the iBoost to anyone looking for a WiFi solution.

how to get free wifi on a narrowboat

You can buy the iBoost here if you want to give it a try yourself