If there’s one thing a modern home can’t do without, it’s a decent bit of Wi-Fi. Read on to find out what you need, how to get it, and how to find the best Wi-Fi broadband deal for you.
What is Wi-Fi broadband, and how do I get it?
To get Wi-Fi in your home, you need two things:
- A broadband connection
- A router with Wi-Fi
The good news is that all broadband packages come with a router included. So all you need to do is sign up to a package, and the rest is taken care of.
The first step is to compare Wi-Fi broadband deals in your area using our comparison tool, and choose the best package for you.
Sign up with your chosen provider, and they’ll send you a Wi-Fi-capable router in the post ready to set up. It will come with full, easy-to-follow instructions.
Which broadband providers offer the best Wi-Fi deals?
The best deal depends on what you’re looking for in your Wi-Fi. Use our comparison tool to find the best deals that suit your needs.
For cheap Wi-Fi deals, look at budget-friendly providers such as Plusnet, TalkTalk, Shell Energy, NOW, and Vodafone.
For fast Wi-Fi deals, you’ll want fibre optic broadband. Most providers offer fibre broadband with download speeds of at least 30Mbps (good enough for small/medium households), while most of the major providers now offer speeds of up to 900Mbps (if you live in a major town or city). That's great for larger households, or for anyone who likes to stream, game, download large files, and connect lots of devices.
The fastest widely available Wi-Fi broadband comes from Virgin Media, whose fastest package has average speeds of a whopping 1130Mbps.
In fact, gigabit broadband – with eye-watering speeds of 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) – is spreading out across the UK, with more and more consumers able to take advantage of lightning fast Wi-Fi.
Some providers also come with little bonuses to make sure your Wi-Fi is up to speed…
- Not only is Virgin Media the fastest widely available provider, it includes Intelligent WiFi in its routers. This clever tech adapts to how you use the internet in your home, so it can deliver the best speeds to all your devices.
- BT offers speeds up to 1Gbps, and gives you an excellent router. You can also spring for Complete Wi-Fi, which gives you extender discs to guarantee reliable Wi-Fi in every room.
- Sky broadband also comes with a very high-quality router, and the option to add WiFi Guarantee – which also promises a usable Wi-Fi speed in every room you need it. Better still: every room that has a Sky TV box will also boost your Wi-Fi.
- With an EE home broadband package, you can add Smart WiFi. Again, this gives you a bit of booster equipment to ensure a better Wi-Fi connection in rooms where you need it.
- If you splash out on Vodafone’s Pro Broadband package (an upgrade to its regular home broadband), you’ll get Super WiFi. This gives you extra booster boxes to set up, improving the Wi-Fi signal around your home.
What types of Wi-Fi packages are available?
You have plenty of choice over your Wi-Fi package. Some things you’ll notice include:
- Providers – There are lots of Wi-Fi broadband providers to choose from – from all-singing, all-dancing big names like BT and Sky, to budget-friendly providers like TalkTalk and Plusnet, to lesser-known firms like Zen or Cuckoo.
- Speed – Pick from standard Wi-Fi broadband (around 10Mbps), speedy fibre optic packages (30-100Mbps), or even ultrafast (100Mbps-1Gbps).
- Contract length – Would you rather save money with a long 24-month Wi-Fi contract, or keep it rolling month-to-month so you can cancel whenever you like?
- Wi-Fi only – Some providers offer more affordable, broadband only packages, without the need to pay for a phone line
- Price – Some providers give you basic, no-frills, straightforward Wi-Fi with a nice low price to match. Other give you extra, such as ultrafast speeds, free public Wi-Fi, or a better router, and come in a little more expensive.
Wi-Fi and TV deals
You can bundle your Wi-Fi broadband with pay-TV from the same provider too.
For lots of channels, look for bundles from Sky and Virgin Media. Or for just a decent TV box, easy access to streaming apps, and perhaps a few extra channels, try BT, TalkTalk, or EE.
Wi-Fi and landline deals
Just about every broadband provider lets you bundle your Wi-Fi with a landline too. Some include it as standard, in fact.
You can stick with pay-as-you-go calls, or add in inclusive evening and weekend calls, anytime calls, or minutes to international numbers.
Can I get wireless fibre broadband?
Wireless fibre broadband is widely available throughout the UK. Most major providers offer basic fibre deals with speeds of around 30Mbps and 65Mbps - these offerings use fibre-to-the-cabinet technology, with fibre optic cables running to your nearest street cabinet and the last leg into your home completed using copper phone lines. As such, you’ll need a phone line to get these fibre deals.
You can also get full fibre services in some areas. That means fibre optic cables run straight into your home, ensuring speeds of up to 1Gbps, depending on where you live.
How does a wireless broadband router work?
A wireless broadband router has a modem inside which connects to the phone or fibre cable that runs into the back of the device. This ensures access to the internet.
The router then uses its antennae to broadcast Wi-Fi signals around the home, allowing you to connect multiple devices at once. Everything from phones to laptops, set top boxes to smart home gadgets, and more.
The latest routers have upwards of seven antennas, meaning they can communicate further into the home and connect with more and more Wi-Fi enabled products.
Where can I get the best router?
The major internet providers all offer excellent routers for free. Pay more and you may even be able to get dedicated extenders, which form a so-called ‘mesh network’, giving you speedy access throughout the home.
Sky’s excellent Broadband Hub has eight antennas and can connect up to 64 devices at once.
BT’s Smart Hub 2 serves up similar tech and can be boosted with dedicated extenders if you opt for its Complete Wi-Fi package.
The Virgin Media Hub 5 has fewer antennas than Sky or BT’s routers but is still an excellent bet.
Those who can get TalkTalk’s Full Fibre deals can take advantage of the excellent Amazon eero 6 router.
These days, there’s no real reason to shell out extra for a different router, whichever provider you go with.
What’s the difference between wireless and wired broadband?
All broadband services offer wireless and wired broadband as standard. While wireless uses Wi-Fi to connect devices throughout the home, wired broadband uses the Ethernet ports on the back of your router to get connected.
Usually, wired broadband is faster than wireless, especially in the case of gigabit broadband. It’s best used for connecting games consoles and smart TVs, when you want to be able to get guaranteed fast speeds for streaming and downloading.
It may also be preferable to use a wired connection with a desktop PC, especially if you use cloud based products for work.
Another type of wireless broadband you may encounter is mobile broadband - which connects you to the internet via 4G and 5G mobile networks rather than through cables.
Benefits of Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi has tons of benefits, whether you want a standard ADSL connection for light web browsing or a full fibre deal for a fully connected home.
- Fast fibre wireless readily available around the UK
- Connect dozens of devices at once
- No need for loads of cables
- Create a smart home that is efficient and uses Wi-Fi to minimise the cost of heating and electricity
Sources and methodology
*Based on average monthly bill of £32.69 from nationally representative sample (1000) vs cheapest monthly cost for superfast broadband (>55Mbs), Vodafone £22/m. Annual saving £128.28.