Gone are the days of needing to be on dry land to use the phone or the internet; though if you’re using a mobile phone, you might find that reception is rubbish inside the floating steel box that is a narrowboat -they make an excellent Faraday cage, so you’ll be safe in a thunderstorm, but they don’t distinguish well between lightning and a mobile signal.

With the advent of 3G, it’s now easy to get on line whilst you’re on the cut, provided you can sit by a window. I ran a business from my boats for seven years, which required me to have access to the internet all the time, and it was very rare that I couldn't get a decent enough signal to reply to emails.

The advent of smartphones and tablet computers with mobile phone sim-cards mean you can Google from just about anywhere. However if you need more functionality than that, or want to connect more devices to the internet, then the sensible option is to get a mobile dongle, or a MiFi (Mobilewifi device) - you can use your smartphone as an internet hotspot, but it’s a battery buster!

There are some great options available these days, don’t feel you have to use the same company as you do for your phones. It is worth doing a little research as to which provider has the best mobile coverage in your area (as a continuous cruiser, I found 3Three gave me the best coverage on every waterway from Guildford to Liverpool). Ofcom have a handy website for you to do just that: mobile coverage Once you’ve checked, you can find the deal for you. Uswitch keeps a handy list of the best value mobile broadband packages available here.

The other thing you should consider is whether the internet device you choose has a socket in which you can plug an external aerial -useful for boosting signal, and means that you don’t have to employ the plastic bag and extension lead method’ for keeping your hardware dry whilst you dangle it out of a window or an air vent, so you can get connected. Nobody wants a soggy dongle now, do they?

This is a guest post by Corinne Thomsett, virtual assistant.

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