No broadband deal is complete without Wi-Fi. While no single broadband deal can restrict their usage to wired-only, what you want to look for is the option to enjoy your broadband as Wi-Fi at no extra cost.
This table has been sorted to display the fastest *average speed deals first.
This table has been limited to display a maximum of 10 deals; sorted by the highest download speed first.
* The "average" download speed displayed in Mb is the speed available to 50% of customers with this product during peak time (between 8pm and 10pm). The actual speed you will get depends on a variety of factors such as your cabling, your area, how far you are from the telephone exchange as well as time of day. The majority of providers will tell you the speed you will likely receive when you begin your online sign up — this may differ from the average speed displayed on our table.
The deals available at your postcode are subject to local availability. The provider will confirm availability for your line.
Money services are provided at no cost to you, but we may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to.
Wi-Fi is wireless broadband – that is, an internet connection you can access on your smart devices without needing to plug into anything. The actual term Wi-Fi (which may also be spelt wi-fi, WiFi or wifi) doesn’t actually stand for anything in particular — it’s just a play on the well-known term ‘Hi-Fi’ — and the different formats of the name make no difference to your actual broadband deal.
All of them. Broadband deals come in the following formats:
Standard, or ADSL, broadband uses traditional copper phone lines.
Also known as FTTC, this broadband connection uses fibre optic wires to your street cabinet and then changes to copper phone lines for the final leg of the journey to your home.
Also known as FTTP (or FTTH for Fibre to the Home) this is a type of fibre optic broadband that uses only modern fibre cables all the way to your individual home, making it the speediest of all options.
Mobile broadband originates from a SIM card and doesn’t require any wiring. The inbuilt hot-spotting abilities of most smartphones mean you can usually create a mobile Wi-Fi (called MiFi) without any further equipment.
All of these options can become Wi-Fi if you use a Wi-Fi enabled router. So even the slowest of standard broadband connections can become Wi-Fi.
Wired broadband is essentially the opposite of Wi-Fi and requires your device to be directly connected to the router. You will need an ethernet cable to create this connection, which is then referred to as Local Area Connection (LAN) instead of Wi-Fi.
It depends on its application. While it may seem like a more restrictive set up compared to Wi-Fi, wired broadband still has a secure place in most households:
If you use set top boxes or a smart TV, your television or TV provider box will most likely require a wired connection. Some are able to work off Wi-Fi but you can expect connections to experience more interference compared to a direct connection.
Any gamer knows the importance of a LAN connection for lag-free gaming broadband and any game console will come with an ethernet port to support this connection, with the exception being handheld devices.
If you have a traditional desktop PC that doesn’t need to be moved around, you may find opting for a wired connection can give you more reliable internet access. Some desktop units don’t come with inbuilt routers, either, so you will have to depend on a USB Wi-Fi router which will generally not perform as strongly as a wired connection right to your provider’s router.
Wi-Fi printers will need to be connected to your router, this is usually done by USB but you can also sometimes run them from Wi-Fi alone.
Accessing your broadband through Wi-Fi doesn’t mean your performance is better. Is it more convenient? Absolutely, as devices like tablets, phones and even some laptops don’t have a LAN port to allow for wired connections.
The ability to use Wi-Fi won’t automatically make your broadband deal a faster option, in fact, to reach the very highest speeds on any broadband deal, you will likely need to depend on a wired connection.
As mentioned, any broadband can be Wi-Fi provided you are using the correct router. A wireless router plugs into your internet connection at the socket and converts your broadband into LAN or a Wi-Fi connection. Not all routers are Wi-Fi routers, though, but if yours is being supplied directly by your supplier, it’s very unlikely that it won’t have this feature.
Here are things to look out for if you want to find the best Wi-Fi broadband router:
As mentioned, these are key for creating wired broadband connections. If you are a household of gamers, then the more ports, the better. The average number of LAN ports for provider-specific routers seems to be four.
Routers will have their own password to stop other people from accessing your connection. This is pretty much a given of any provider router, but if you want to up the ante you can also search specifically for provider routers with extra security measures like management apps, parental controls, network re-naming, IP etc.
Antennae help Wi-Fi routers create a strong, wide-reaching connection to your wireless devices and the basic rule is the more the merrier, though the effectiveness of them comes down to the software in the router.
Most internet users will get by perfectly happily with their provider’s router without needing to know about this technology, but MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output) and MU-MIMO (Multiuser MIMO) can be the difference between a good connection and a great one.
Not all routers are alike in providing MU-MIMO, which allows your connection to be split into equal parts per device, so phones, laptops and consoles all enjoy a constant connection, unlike MIMO which makes the rounds to one device at a time. For the average household, though, even one with hardcore gamers, you probably won’t notice any particular lag.
Here is a closer look at the routers of some of the biggest broadband providers:
Known as the BT Smart Hub, BT’s router claims to be the UK’s most powerful. It boasts seven antennae, and supports MU-MIMO though as yet BT is not utilising this. Four ethernet ports and one USB let you add devices while parental controls and 100GB free cloud storage are included.
Virgin’s top-performing router is called the Super Hub and claims to create connections 7x faster than the UK average. Four ethernet ports allow for wired connections.
Dubbed the Sky Hub, with Sky’s router you have the option to restrict access as part of parental and security controls. It’s also a great energy saving gadget as it will switch to low power mode when not in use. Sky claims this device can support over 50 devices.
Wi-Fi extenders are different to routers in that they do not generate a connection, but they do help broaden its reach. Providers like Sky add this to their set top boxes, so as well as providing access to premier TV, it also improves Wi-Fi throughout your home.
You don’t have to use the router provided to you by your supplier, although most will insist you take one as part of your contract, and some may even write that you must use it.
If you are able to use your own independently purchased router then you can shop around for features you consider the most important. Gaming routers, for example, allow for a strong Wi-Fi connection that supports lag-free gaming without a wired connection.
That said, using your own router will usually limit the amount of customer support you can get as your provider may not be familiar with your hardware. As well as this, you will likely need to have some prior experience or knowledge of using the technology to truly benefit from the added software capabilities of these devices.
Your provider’s router will also have the added advantage of simply being plugged in and ready to go in minutes.
There are plenty of reasons to enable Wi-Fi in your household, including:
If your home features several users, all with phones, laptops and consoles then Wi-Fi is essential for being able to get online on these devices that don’t allow for wired connections.
If you live in a shared house, such as a student house, then huddling around the router on a wired connection isn’t always a possibility, and you’ll need a broadband connection that can reach you in your own private room.
As mentioned, phones can only get online via your home broadband plan through Wi-Fi, otherwise you’ll have to rely on your personal mobile data, which can get pricey if it’s your only option. Alternatively, you can look at unlimited mobile broadband if your house cannot receive Wi-Fi broadband.
Any wired broadband connection needs to have direct access to a router, and while you can get some extremely long LAN cables, having one of these running through the house, up and down stairs and into every room simply isn’t feasible.
In the best possible environment, Wi-Fi should be able to reach a range of about 40 metres, more than enough for the average home. However, several things can deplete your Wi-Fi’s overall reach including:
Your router being set up too close to a wall
Your router pointing to the wall or floor and not out into the home
Your router being hidden behind TVs, cabinets and other obstacles
Interference from devices such as baby monitors and radios
Physical barriers like water-filled fish tanks
All homes can get Wi-Fi, though the extent of it may be limited by things such as very thick walls or very large rooms. You should have at least one room in your home where you can get Wi-Fi – the room where the router is.
If you struggle to get a decent Wi-Fi connection beyond this, you may want to consider using a Wi-Fi extender and, if this also fails, mobile broadband may be the way to go.
No, you can access your broadband with or without using Wi-Fi but only if the devices you need broadband for have a port for wired connections. For things like TVs, consoles and laptops, there will usually be a port available, but this is not true for phones, tablets, smartwatches etc.
Some PCs don’t come with a Wi-Fi adapter inbuilt so you will need to purchase one separately. These should not cost too much and can be smaller than a standard USB flash drive.
Yes, with the exception of full fibre connections, all broadband deals need a phone line. Using a Wi-Fi router has no impact on this requirement.
Different things can interrupt your Wi-Fi connection, including traffic management policies that impact your overall connection and interference from other devices and Wi-Fi networks. The best thing to do is to reboot your router, or try turning your device’s Wi-Fi settings off and on again.
Wi-Fi is a way of delivering broadband to your device without wires, broadband itself is the name for the connection to the internet, whether you access it through a Wi-Fi network or through a wire.