Get a strong Wi-Fi connection on your houseboat
You can get almost anything on a houseboat that you can get in a house–except, maybe, good Wi-Fi. While some docks offer cable internet hook ups, on any boat, these wired internet solutions are only a temporary solution. A wireless mobile broadband connection provides a reliable, fast, and permanent Wi-Fi network that goes wherever your houseboat does.
Choose the right mobile data plan for your houseboat
When choosing a mobile data plan, be sure to take a look at all available carriers. To see which carriers cover your area, see the Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile coverage maps. Turn to cellmapper.net for more detailed data about coverage and be sure to also check out our blog post on locating the closest cellular tower.
If mobile broadband will be the primary internet connection on your houseboat, choose a plan with enough data to support your monthly use. For context, the average monthly data use is 190 GB per household. An unlimited plan is always a safe bet, especially if you often stream video.
What to expect from your cellular carrier once you leave shore
Unfortunately, water interferes with the radio waves that transmit online data over wireless networks. For this reason and, of course, because there are very few people offshore, cellular carriers typically don’t deploy their networks to cover large bodies of water.
Cellular carriers are pretty upfront about the less than stellar service they offer once you leave shore. Verizon warns customers that “service may not be very reliable very far offshore” on Lake Michigan and tells cruise ship passengers not to expect cellular service at sea.
“I honestly couldn’t provide an exact point of signal failure,” writes one Verizon customer service representative on the community forums, “but I would not advise using cellular services for a trip any greater than a few hundred feet from land.”
Mobile broadband is an excellent solution for most houseboats and boats that stay close to land. If you need connectivity on large lakes or the high seas, however, slower satellite internet might be a more reliable choice for your boat.
How to install a wireless router on your houseboat
Your mobile broadband connection will come installed on a wireless router. To begin using your new connection, just plug your router into a power source. It will automatically connect to your carrier’s mobile broadband network and create a secure, local Wi-Fi network. You can connect any device, from a desktop computer to a smart watch, to this network.
How to install a booster antenna on your houseboat
To improve the strength and speed of your Wi-Fi connection, install one or more optional booster antennas to the interior or exterior of your boat. Because houseboats are in constant motion, we suggest choosing an omnidirectional antenna like our Panel MIMO Booster Antenna. These antennas send and receive radio waves in all directions.
For installation tips, check out this blog post on installing an omnidirectional booster antenna.