Wireless Broadband Explained

Discover wireless internet and get a deal to suit you

Compare products from UK’s leading providers

What is wireless broadband?

Wireless broadband is an internet connection that works without the requirement of physically plugging your device into a network. Wireless internet is often called Wi-Fi, and is a way to connect a device to your router. It is less stable than an ethernet cable, as the signal it sends out diminishes over long distances and can be obstructed by physical objects.

Is WiFi the same as broadband?

Broadband refers to the cables which deliver an internet connection to your router (also called a hub), while a Wi-Fi signal from the hub provides devices with wireless access to the internet.

Do all broadband connections offer wireless?

Yes. All types of internet connection offer wireless broadband, so if you’re using a WiFi-enabled wireless hub, you’ll be able to access the internet in your premises irrespective of your connection method. The signal strength and speed of your Wi-Fi, however, will vary depending on the connection you’re using. You’ll be amazed at the number of internet deals that are available these days, and a little research can help you bag a great deal.

Standard broadband

Also known as ADSL broadband, this method uses copper phone cables to connect you to the internet. It can provide you with average speeds of up to 10Mbps, which are the slowest on the market.

Superfast fibre

Also called FTTC broadband, this is available to around 95% of homes in the UK and has speeds of between 30 and 70Mbps. It uses a combination of phone lines and fibre-optic cables to connect you to the internet.

Full Fibre

Also called FTTP broadband, this method is less widely available, but it can provide you with some of the fastest speeds, with download speeds of up to 1Gbps. The catch, however, is that it has very little availability around the UK currently. Users should bear in mind that they will rarely experience the maximum speeds associated with their deal by connecting wirelessly - an ethernet connection is much more reliable.

Mobile broadband

Your mobile not only enables you to access the internet using data, but also to create a Wi-Fi network that can connect other devices. Some mobile networks also offer mobile broadband, which offers a connection which is truly wireless - they install a hub in your home which connects to its mobile 4G or 5G network and allows devices in your home to connect to the internet in the same way your mobile does. This type of connection can now offer speeds to compete with traditional fibre internet and is completely wireless.

What are some of the best wireless broadband deals currently?

There is a high level of competition between internet providers. You can therefore get some amazing broadband deals at great prices. Take a look at the table below to compare some of the best Wi-Fi deals out there.

If you’re looking for deals with an 18-month contract length:

Broadband Deals Average Speed (Mbps) Minimum term
Virgin Media M200 Ultrafast 213Mbps 18-month contract
VM M100 Ultrafast 108Mbps 18-month contract
TalkTalk Unlimited Fibre 65 67Mbps 18-month contract
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre and Phone 66Mbps 18-month contract
Plusnet Unlimited Broadband and Phone 10Mbps 18-month contract

Two of the best long-term contract broadband deals with decent internet speeds:

Broadband Deals Average Speed (Mbps) Minimum term
BT Fibre 2 Broadband 67Mbps 24-month contract
Vodafone Superfast 2 63Mbps 24-month contract

Which providers offer the best wireless router?

All major providers have fast Wi-Fi hubs that will ensure a strong wireless connection. These include:

  • EE Smart Hub and Bright Boxes
  • BT Home Hubs
  • BT Smart Hubs
  • Virgin Media Hub 3
  • TalkTalk Wi-Fi Hub and Super Router
  • Sky Hub
  • Sky Q Hub

There is little difference between these hubs. However, wireless signal strength and speed are significantly improved if we compare new and old routers of the same brand. If you’re currently using an old router, upgrading could benefit you more than you might imagine. Your new Wi-Fi router will most likely allow you to:

  • Install easily by plugging it into a power outlet and an internet socket.
  • Use a wired Gigabit connection through at least one of the router ports.
  • Automatically switch to the fastest WiFi channel with lesser traffic.

How do wireless routers operate?

Wireless routers convert internet data into a radio wave signal and direct it to your devices if they support wireless technology, as most now do. Your devices pick these signals in order to gain wireless access through the Wi-Fi network.

Do broadband deals include wireless routers?

Yes, they do. Wi-Fi hubs are included with broadband packages. However, if you are looking for a Wi-Fi extender, you can usually purchase one separately from your internet provider.

How is a wireless router set up?

In the majority of cases, you have to do very little to set up your new Wi-Fi hub. You just need to plug it into a power socket and your main phone socket, and your internet usage can be completely wireless if you want it to be. To get the most out of your internet speeds, however, we recommend using an ethernet cable where possible.

How secure is wireless broadband?

Security of your home internet is important to prevent data theft, degrading Wi-Fi performance, and to keep unwanted users from gaining access to your wireless signal. For that, you must choose a strong, hard-to-guess passcode to protect it, and remember not to share your passcode with others. Your wireless router is generally secure, as it makes use of an encryption key.

Where should a wireless router be placed?

Here are a few tips for you regarding router placement to ensure you get maximum wireless coverage:

  • You must place your hub in the centre of your home to ensure an equal distribution of the signal.
  • Avoid placing it next to a window and try to restrict the signals inside your property.
  • Avoid placing it near the fridge, microwave oven, or TV. These appliances can interfere with your wireless signal.

How do I check the wireless broadband speed in my area?

If you want to check the availability and speed of broadband in your area, use the postcode checker.

What are the benefits of wireless routers?

Pros

  • Multiple users can be online simultaneously, using one router.
  • Your movement is not restricted within the premises if you are using a wireless router. You can take your device and move it around the house while remaining online

Cons

  • Wireless signals aren’t always reliable. Signal strength fluctuates depending on the distance from the router and any obstacles (such as thick walls) between you and the router.
  • You may not get the Wi-Fi hub of your choice with your broadband package. Also, different providers offer different routers, so switching providers means you’ll have to switch your router too.

What to do if my WiFi stops working?

If your home Wi-Fi stops working, you can try doing these simple things:

Try Rebooting

If your device seems to be working fine and the issue seems to be with the network, switch off your router. Give it a minute or two, and then turn it on again. Try reconnecting once the router is on.

Relocate your router

If your home Wi-Fi is better in some rooms than others, then you may need to relocate your router. Also, make sure no other devices are interfering with your wireless signal.

Check device connection

At times, as we move around during the day, we tend to connect our smartphones/laptops to multiple wireless connections, i.e. the wireless broadband at your home, work, and gym, etc. Make sure you’re trying to connect to the right wireless connection, as sometimes your device fails to automatically sync with changing routers as you move around.

Which is better, wireless broadband or wired broadband?

Giving a definite answer in general terms wouldn’t do justice to either of the connections, as the answer may vary for customers depending on their requirements, as well as the priority sequence of those requirements. There are merits to both the connections depending on customer preference.

Wireless Router Features

To fairly compare wireless broadband with wired broadband, your router in use must be in good shape and should have the following functional elements:

Antennae

Check your Wi-Fi router for external antennae, in addition to its internal ones. Multiple external antennae can enhance the router’s performance and provide wide-reaching signals.

Ethernet ports

Most home Wi-Fi routers come with an average of four ethernet ports, which enable users to plug-in devices and create a wired connection when needed

Network security

Routers are mostly password protected, which stops other people from trespassing and using your connection. Moreover, to some extent, routers also save you from online identity and data theft.

Wired Broadband Uses

Although wired broadband restricts users’ movements, it is better suited to certain applications and devices, such as:

Gaming

Every hardcore gamer accepts the benefit of having a strong, wired connection for seamless gaming over wireless broadband that causes lag. This is the reason why most gaming consoles have ethernet ports.

Desktop PCs

For those who work on a desktop personal computer, having a fixed wired connection makes more sense. Even laptop users can get faster and more stable internet access if they choose wired broadband over portability, though this does restrict the flexibility of movement that a laptop offers.

Smart TV

Although Smart TVs can work with wireless internet too, this can cause a lot of buffering. Smart TVs, like any device, generally work better with a wired connection when streaming.

Printers

WFi-enabled printers are normally physically plugged into a router using a USB cable for better functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions

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In an ideal environment, the best home routers should allow wireless signals to cover about 40 metres distance. However, we do not work in ideal surroundings, and there tend to be a lot of objects between us and the router that may serve as obstacles and affect the signal strength. Check for and rectify the following possibilities:

  • Is your router hidden behind cabinets, shelves, and/or bigger appliances?
  • Are there other devices nearby (like baby monitors, radios, etc.) that could be interfering with the signal?
  • Is the Wi-Fi router placed close to a window?
  • Is your router not positioned in the centre of your house?

It shouldn’t unless you haven’t placed your router properly, though stone walls and other major obstacles in some houses can make it difficult to get wireless signal absolutely everywhere. Nowadays, however, wireless broadband has a consistent and reliable performance, and if you are facing some issues with reception, getting a booster can fix that.