Good communications are important to a barge on the move - for requesting lock or bridge opening and access to harbours, for talking to other boats and of course for personal connections with friends and news.

This section of the Knowledgebase explains the (sometimes mandatory) radio equipment for a barge and how bargeees on the move, can access telephones and the internet.

VHF Radio & ATIS

Useful, some would say essential, on any boat to communicate with bridges, locks, ports and other boats. A VHF radio is mandatory on larger boats and in some areas for smaller boats

Boats with VHF in most countries must have a Ships Radio Licence and someone onboard must have a personal VHF Operators Certificate. All radios on inland waterways are also required to work in ATIS mode  


AIS (automatic Identification System) is not really a communication facility but a system for boats to 'see' each other's position. It is included here particularly to distinguish it from ATIS and because an AIS receiver is included in some more expensive VHF radios.


Many boaters want TV onboard - and prefer to watch English-language TV rather than whatever thay can pick up locally.  This generally means a satellite dish. This section describes the options, relates other members experience and gives useful links. 


Mobile phones are almost essential equipment onboard, like VHF, for communications with some bridges, locks or water way staff.  The Somme river operates totally by phone; VNF staff are often more (or only) accessible by phone; occasionally in Belgium or Holland you will meet a bridge or lock needing a phone call to get operated.  And of course they are useful for keeping in touch with friends and family- and the internet. This section discusses various options for equipment. Given the number of phone services, the rate at which they change and they wide variety of uses, it would be futile to try recommending specific phone services.

Mobile Internet Best Buys

The options for economic internet access, for tablets and PCs or just smartphones, are far fewer than for voice calls.  This section aims to maintain an uptodate list of the best-value Internet services reported by members.  

Internet Boosters

Various gadgets are available for boosting WiFi or mobile phone signals. Members suggestions are described here.

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