A guide to wireless broadband

Man and woman on laptop

Find out how wireless broadband works in your home, its advantages, disadvantages, and how to find great deals on your broadband.

What is wireless broadband?

Wireless broadband, or wi-fi, is a broadband connection to the internet that is accessed without cables. Most broadband providers now offer wireless broadband through a wireless router, and many offer great broadband deals which you can compare on our site.

How does a wireless router work?

Wireless routers take the internet data that comes into your home, turn it into radio waves and broadcasts them around an area.

These waves are then picked up by your wireless devices, such as laptops and tablets, and converted back into data, which you then access. Think of that process the next time you stream your favourite Netflix show!

What are the pros and cons of wireless routers?

Advantages:

  • No wires: You can get rid of all your unsightly network cables, removing unnecessary clutter from your home computer space, for example
  • Portability: No need to plug in cables every time you want to use your laptop or tablet, you can take your device from room to room and continue to use the internet
  • Smart device compatibility: As well as the more obvious devices like smartphones, tablets and games consoles using wireless broadband technology, other devices like refrigerators, lights and speakers can also be compatible
  • Easy set up: Setting up your wireless broadband is often simple and usually a case of ‘plug and go’, meaning there’s no need for an engineer to visit

Disadvantages:

  • Signal strength can vary: Depending on the size of your home and where your router is positioned, you may find that the signal is weaker or slower in certain rooms. You could consider wi-fi extenders - these plug into power sockets and amplify the broadband signal
  • Security concerns: Wireless networks are more exposed to attack by unauthorised users but if you use wireless broadband wisely, it’s actually very secure. Most modern wireless routers come with a protected password, and so only those who know the password will be able to access your connection

Is wireless internet better than wired?

Wireless broadband lets you access the internet from anywhere in your home, on any device, giving you much more freedom than a wired connection. However, a wired connection may offer faster speeds and a better connection.

How do I set up my wireless broadband?

The first thing you’ll need is a wireless router, and thankfully most broadband providers offer one for free as part of their packages.

Most routers come preinstalled with the right settings, so it’s as simple as ‘plug and go’. Your router acts as the 'hub' of the wireless network - it is from here that all of the radio waves are sent to the other computers and devices in your home.

How do I connect to wi-fi in my home?

Every computer device that you wish to connect to your wireless network will require a wireless network card - most devices are fitted with these as standard.

To connect your devices wirelessly to the internet, you’ll need the wi-fi name and password information on your router’s label.

You should find the wi-fi name on your device (this can be changed or personalised if you wish), and when you type in the password (this can also be changed), you should connect to the wi-fi.

What wi-fi should I get?

The type of wi-fi you need depends on your usage and budget. A good internet speed for most people is around 30Mbps but if you were to stream lots of high-res videos or use multiple devices at the same time, you may need more. Similarly, if you only use wi-fi to surf the web on your home computer, you could do with less.

Compare broadband deals

You can easily compare broadband deals in your area with our broadband comparison tool. All you have to do is enter your postcode and we’ll help find you great deals from leading internet providers.