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Wireless broadband is the standard for most broadband connections these days, whether it's in the home, the workplace or a public space. You'd be hard-pressed to find a premises that still relies on a wired connection, and pretty much all broadband deals are now wireless broadband deals.
Wireless broadband connections can now handle some of the highest internet speeds, and wireless broadband deals have long been the new standard for getting access to the internet at home and at work.
Having wireless broadband makes your life much easier, allowing multiple people to connect to a single broadband connection quickly and simply, rather than relying on an ethernet cable to connect to every individual device.
Families can use it to ensure everyone can get online at the same time via their smartphones, laptops and tablets; gamers will find it essential for connecting their consoles to the internet without having to run a physical cable across the entire house; and if you want to browse social media while in bed, Wi-Fi obviously is a must-have.
To set up a Wi-Fi connection in your home or workspace you'll need a wireless router. All Wi-Fi deals come with a wireless router when you sign up with a provider. They’re usually free of charge and are very simple to plug in and set up, with no technical skills required.
|Package||Broadband speed||Contract length|
|Virgin Media M100 Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone||108Mb average*||18 months|
|Vodafone Superfast 2||63Mb average*||24 months|
|Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra & Phone Line||66Mb average*||18 months|
|TalkTalk Unlimited Fibre 65 and Phone Line||67Mb average*||18 months|
|BT Fibre 2 Broadband||67Mb average*||24 months|
|Virgin Media M200 Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone||213Mb average*||18 months|
|Plusnet Unlimited Broadband & Phone Line||10Mb average*||18 months|
|NOW Broadband: Brilliant Broadband & Anytime Calls||11Mb average*||12 months|
|TalkTalk Unlimited Fast Broadband and Phone Line||11Mb average*||18 months|
|NOW Broadband: Fab Fibre & Anytime Calls||36Mb average*||12 months|
Great Wi-Fi deals are available from every major broadband provider, and there are several types of wireless broadband connection to choose from. The type of connection you have will impact the speed and strength of your wireless internet, and the availability of each type varies across the UK.
Superfast fibre broadband is more widely available than most realise, so it’s always worth checking to see if there are fibre Wi-Fi deals available where you live. Chances are, they certainly will be.
When comparing Wi-Fi deals, here are the key options that you should be aware of:
You can get wireless broadband wherever fibre broadband is available, and the vast majority of homes in the UK can access fibre broadband, but there are still a few places that miss out.
Hard-to-reach rural parts of the UK might not have access to fibre broadband yet, and some urban areas are still not connected, often due to difficulties in laying the necessary fibre cabling (especially in purpose-built flats).
However, this applies to less than 5% of UK properties, and if you are affected, there may be more suitable options available such as mobile broadband.
To find out what speeds are available in your area and if you can access fibre, just put your address into our Postcode Checker and we'll show you what speeds you can expect and what wireless broadband deals are available where you are.
If you'd like an even more accurate look into the speeds you can get at your actual address, then compare with our Broadband Network Checker. This'll help you avoid having to search your address on every provider's website to see if your chosen deal is actually available.
A wireless router works by sending signals throughout your home in the form of Wi-Fi. Almost all computers, laptops and mobile devices will have an inbuilt receiver that can pick up these signals to connect to the internet without the need for wires — though if you have an older machine, you can still connect wirelessly through an external network adapter.
While there's a lot of jargon related to Wi-Fi, there are a few key numbers you need to look out for — 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac (also called Wi-Fi 5) and most recently 802.11ax (or Wi-Fi 6). These refer to international standards for Wi-Fi that indicate how fast your wireless network will be and how many devices it could handle at any one time.
Older and cheaper routers will only use the 802.11g standard, which transmits in the 2.4GHz bandwidth — a signal that has a good reach but is slower than some more modern connections. Newer models may be listed as 802.11n, which still uses this bandwidth, but comes with better technology for faster speeds.
However, for the highest performance, you should look for routers that are 802.11ac certified. This means they can also transmit on the 5GHz frequency, which translates to much faster performance between device and router.
The next generation of Wi-Fi routers is 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6. It's expected to make Wi-Fi much easier to use in busy areas like stadiums and airports, and eventually our homes too, given its larger capacity for bandwidth and more devices.
While some providers offer this equipment in their more advanced routers, many cheaper options that are included for free with cheap broadband packages won't have this capability, so you may have to buy your own to take advantage of this technology.
Most routers provided with broadband packages will already be set up to provide you with a home Wi-Fi network, so you'll have to do very little to get them up and running.
In the majority of cases, if you're choosing a standard or fibre broadband package, all you'll have to do is plug your new router into your home's master phone socket, connect it to a power socket and you’re good to go.
Some types of broadband, such as Virgin Media's cable connections and full fibre packages, may require an engineer to visit your home to install the necessary hardware for a fee. If this is the case, you can arrange this when you sign up to a service.
Note: COVID-19 restrictions might affect engineer visits in times when cases are high — providers will contact you if this is the case and guide you as far as they can remotely, with in-home visits reserved for those who cannot install their router without an engineer present.
You may not choose your broadband provider based on who has the best wireless router, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it. All the major broadband providers have invested in their products in order to ensure they have the best Wi-Fi router available for new customers.
There are some slight differences between each provider’s Wi-Fi hub, but perhaps the biggest difference is between old routers and new ones. If you’re on an old contract with your provider, upgrading to a new router (or getting one for free when you switch to a new provider) could improve your Wi-Fi strength and the broadband speeds in your home.
Here are a few things that your new router should be capable of:
In most cases, once your Wi-Fi router is set up, you should immediately be able to connect to your home broadband. But if your wireless internet isn't working or is slower than expected, there are a few simple things you can try to fix this.
If these tips don't work, check out our guide to internet connectivity problems for more information.
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Wireless broadband lets you access the internet from anywhere in your home, on any device, so it gives you more freedom than a wired connection. However, it may not offer the same speeds as a wired alternative, which is something to consider if you need the highest performance.
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