Wireless broadband, also known as Wi-Fi, simply means broadband without the wires.
To access the internet in your home without the need for cables everywhere, you'll need a wireless router. Once you've got one of these installed, you can access the web anywhere within its range from any Wi-Fi enabled device.
This should hopefully cover your whole house and save you the hassle of installing extra phone lines.
- Wireless can refer to wireless broadband or wireless networking
- Most broadband suppliers will provide you with a free wireless router when you sign-up with them
- An unsecured Wi-Fi network could lead to slower broadband and security risks
What does wireless refer to?
Wireless can refer to either wireless broadband or wireless networking. Wireless networking is means a connected internet network, usually for a business. Wireless broadband is more commonly used in relation to personal internet use.
Wi-Fi access is also increasingly common outside the home, with public hotspots often being available in city centres, cafes, libraries, and on public transport.
Your wireless broadband should provide Wi-Fi throughout your home, as long as the signal is strong enough. But some structures can block Wi-Fi signals, like fire doors. So if you live in a rental property which has this type of door, you may want to think about Wi-Fi range.
Many internet service providers (ISPs) offer free wireless routers to new customers, but if you already have a broadband contract it's worth trying to negotiate a free router upgrade from your provider.
If you decide to purchase your own router you'll need to make sure you buy the right one for your broadband connection. If you have an ADSL broadband connection (i.e. your internet connection is via a phone line) you'll need an ADSL router, whereas if you have a cable connection you'll need a cable (DSL) router.
If your Wi-Fi router is giving you slower speeds than normal, find out more about boosting your broadband speed.
What about wireless broadband security?
Make sure your wireless broadband is secure to prevent other users from gaining access to your network or connection.
If your wireless network is left unsecured, it could slow down your connection. It would allow a neighbour, or even a passer-by, to access your broadband with any wireless-enabled device, essentially stealing your bandwidth (internet speed).
An unsecured network could also result in the theft of your personal data, such as credit card or online banking details.
These risks can be minimised by encrypting data and setting up a password. This password comes in the form of a wireless encryption key - a series of numbers, letters and characters that turns data into code and makes hacking (breaking in to your network) more difficult.
There are two types of encryption key - Wired Equipment Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). Your wireless router will likely have one of these encryptions already set up – you can find out which one in the guide that came with your router.
Wired Equipment Privacy (WEP)
WEP encrypts data before it's sent over the internet. So anyone wanting to gain access to your network will be asked to enter a password before they can use the internet.
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
WPA or WPA2 are wireless broadband encryption methods that are far harder to crack than older WEP codes.
As an alternative to WEP and WPA, access control allows you to create an access list of the computers that are allowed to connect to your network. This takes security to the next level and is probably not necessary for most people, but is something to consider if you’re worried about online security.
Most routers come with instructions on how to secure your wireless connection. Alternatively, speak with your provider.
5G is specifically designed to keep up with the demand of mobile devices on internet connections and make data transfer faster than ever. This helps to maintain fast internet connections for all things wireless - which can include everything from your watch to your fridge, as well as more traditional options like tablets, mobile phones and laptops.
Is wireless better than wired?
Wireless broadband allows you to access the internet from any location in your home or on any device. So wireless gives you more freedom than a wired connection could.
However, it may not offer the same speeds or stability as a wired connection would - this is something you’d need to consider if you require a high level of performance from your internet.
Looking to switch your internet provider? Compare wireless broadband deals today.