Broadband hardware: Your guide to routers, phone lines, and equipment

Broadband hardware is the equipment that allows you to access the internet. It's important to make sure that you've got the right hardware so you can make the most of your internet connection.

Key Points

What is Broadband Hardware?

Broadband hardware refers to the equipment needed to get your broadband working. Faulty or out-of-date hardware can affect the speed and quality of your connection, and may stop you getting online at all.


Phone line

Your phone line needs to be able to connect to an internet service provider (ISP) if you want to get online. Most ADSL broadband has to come through your phone line - Compare broadband deals to see if you can connect in your area.

Alternatively, fibre broadband is available throughout the UK, and can be supplied without the need for a phone line by providers such as Virgin Media.


Broadband routers and modems

A router is essentially a bridge between your home and the internet. You can connect your home devices to it (usually over Wi-Fi or by an ethernet cable) to get online. It also allows your devices, like computers or printers, to communicate with each other.

Historically, you would also need a modem to connect to the internet, but routers normally have a modem built-in as standard now. The reason you need them both is because a modem allows you to connect to the internet and a router shares the internet connection to different devices.

When comparing broadband with wireless routers, consider how easy it is to set them up, how many devices can connect and what distances it can cope with. You should also check that your chosen device will work with your internet service provider's connection.

If you live in a large house and you struggle to get signal in certain rooms, you can buy signal boosters to extend your wireless range. Just make sure the signal booster is compatible with your devices and router – luckily they’re usually universal.


Mobile and satellite broadband

One way you can connect to the internet without the using a phone line is mobile broadband. This is where you use a phone network (such as Three or EE) to access the internet. You can connect to mobile broadband in a variety of different ways, including portable routers, USB dongles, and SIM cards.

Another way you can connect is through satellite broadband. You would need to have a satellite dish installed, and you’ll still need to have a router or modem in your house.

Watch out for hidden hardware charges

Before you invest in any hardware, compare broadband deals to find the best offer for you. Consider speed, prices, packages, but also if hardware is part of the contract. A cheaper deal can catch you out by charging extra for equipment and installation, so read the terms and conditions before you sign up