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Most home broadband providers now offer wireless broadband through a wireless router – and the good news is that there are plenty of cheap broadband deals available out there.
Let’s take a look at how wireless broadband works in your home, how to position your wireless router and what you need to look out for when comparing broadband deals.
Frequently asked questions
How does a wireless router work?
Wireless routers take the internet data that comes into your home, turn it into radio waves and ‘beam’ your internet connection to any wireless-enabled devices in your home.
These waves are then picked up by your wireless devices and converted back into data that your computers, laptops, phones, tablets, games consoles and smart TVs can make sense of.
Broadband can be delivered to your home in one of three ways:
- ADSL the most basic and most commonly available type of broadband, this works over the standard copper wires that carry your home telephone line.
- Cable broadband – this uses coaxial and fibre optic cables.
- Fibre optic broadband – sometimes just called fibre, this delivers broadband via clusters of fibre optic cables. It offers faster speeds than standard broadband.
Whichever way it comes in to your home, your wireless router will convert the data into a wireless internet signal via the phone line or cable line.
Are wireless routers included in broadband deals?
Yes. Wireless routers are usually included in broadband packages. But you can also buy higher-spec versions or WiFi extenders, if you’re keen to boost coverage and performance.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of wireless routers
There are advantages and disadvantages to wireless routers:
- Using wireless routers helps avoid having to plug in cables every time you want to use your laptop or tablet. You can take your device from room to room, and maybe even into the garden, and still get a signal.
- Wireless allows several people to be online at the same time, so it’s convenient for busy households.
- Many computers and other devices have adapters that allow them to pick up wireless signals. If you have a very old laptop that isn't wireless ready, you can get a wireless network card or external wireless adapter.
- Depending on the size of your home and where your router is positioned, you might find that the signal isn't quite as reliable or fast in certain rooms. Consider WiFi extenders, which plug into a power socket and amplify the signal to help fix blackspots in your home.
- Each internet service provider offers their own router, so if you swap providers you might find the new router that comes with your package is a different size or shape.
- Not all routers are the same. The newest routers use the 'AC' standard, which helps maintain a fast speed when more than one device is connected – but these don't come as standard. The type of router you’re given may depend on the type of package you choose. So the number of antennae may vary between models, as will the number of ports that allow you to plug in directly to the router if needed.If you want to swap your router to something that suits you better, you'll have to research and buy it yourself.
- Most routers these days are plug and go, but if you have any problems setting up, your service provider or the manufacturer should be able to help you.
Where's the best place to put a wireless router?
Follow our tips on how to position your wireless router, to help ensure you get a decent WiFi signal and to maximise coverage:
- Place the router in the middle of your home as walls and other solid surfaces can slow speeds. You’ll get a better result the fewer walls the signal has to go through.
- Avoid putting the router on the floor. Put it on a shelf or table and you’ll reduce the wastage of signal going through the floor.
- Don't put the router by a window as you'll get a leakage of signal outside.
- Don't position it by the TV as metal objects can reflect and scatter your signal. If you have open-plan living, don't put it by the fridge or microwave either.
- Put the router somewhere you can see it If you put it in a cupboard, the signal has to travel through more obstacles before it reaches your device.
If you still get a poor signal, you may need to consider broadband extenders.
Is using wireless routers safe?
You’ll need to ensure your wireless router is secure because it links to other devices in your home. You might want to change the default password as hackers have been known to target these. But make sure you choose a strong password and keep it safe.
Don't share your password with others. If your router offers the option, create a guest wireless network and allow visitors and friends to use it. This helps keep your network safe from any of their devices that might be infected with malware. You can also use the guest network for any of your own less-secure connected smart devices, making it harder for hackers to access the rest of your network.
Most newer routers come with an automatic update to keep the security protection current. If you have an older model, you should keep an eye on the manufacturer’s website to see if you need to manually update it and how to do it.
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