What is wireless broadband?
Wireless broadband (in the UK), refers to a home broadband connection which is accessed wirelessly by your computer or laptop via a wireless router. This is not to be confused with mobile broadband which is a different technology (more on this later). Nearly all broadband providers now offer a wireless router as standard with their packages, even at the cheaper end of the market. There’s many reason to go wireless, not least that this is a great way to lose those messy and occasionally hazardous cables.
Another reason that wireless broadband has become the standard is that many people have multiple devices that have wireless connectivity, for example a household may have a Smartphone or two, laptops, games consoles, tablets such as the iPad and even TV’s with wireless capabilities.
Which are the best providers and deals in my area?
Most providers offer a wireless router with their broadband packages so the best way to find the right deals is to consider the factors you would when buying any other broadband package; for example do you need a fast connection for downloading lots of movies and online games? What sort of download limit do you need (low if you just surf the net and email and higher for downloading lots of movies and TV programs plus online games etc)? You can use our post code checker to see which broadband providers and deals are available in your area the use our comparison tables to help you choose the best deal. If you want to see what other people think of their providers you can read broadband reviews here.
Wireless broadband and security, what you need to know
For most people wireless broadband is a much better option than a fixed connection and with a little housekeeping there should be no major disadvantages. The one major downside of a wireless connection is that is has the potential to be hacked in to. When you get a new wireless broadband connection or router you will usually be prompted to enter a security key or a password which should be kept personal to you and others in your household who want to use the connection. Securing your connection with a password is important for a number of reasons. Firstly you may be sending sensitive information, such as credit card details over the internet which you don’t want to let any opportunistic hackers intercept. Secondly it’s not unknown for cheapskate neighbours to jump on to your broadband connections (sometimes called piggybacking), so they can get free broadband access. Not only is this freeloading, it will also slow down your connection by using your bandwidth. More worryingly if these people use the connection to download illegal material such as music from illegal file sharing sites then this activity.
I’m thinking of buying a wireless router, what should I know?
Firstly check on your broadband provider’s website to see if they have a list of compatible or recommended wireless routers. Fibre optic (cable broadband provided by Virgin and more recently BR) broadband requires different types of router than ADSL or ADSL2+ broadband connections.
Wireless routers will advertise a maximum speed, typically lower or older models will be 11Mbs, with the more popular current models offering 54Mbs and the top of the range, more expensive, draft B routers having a theoretical maximum of 300Mbs. When choosing how much to spend take in to consideration the performance of your broadband provider, for example if you have a maximum speed of 8Mbs there’s little point in buying a top of the range router capable of delivering huge speeds.