The difference between broadband and WiFi

The difference between broadband and WiFi

Date: 13/02/23

Author: Shia Mitchell

Tech terms can be really overwhelming at times, but most often people confuse broadband with WiFi. We want you to be able to make the most of both, understanding their pros and cons, so you can navigate the internet world with ease without getting a brain short-circuit from all the Ethernet, copper, full fibre, WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 jargon.

Everything you need to know — in short:  

  • Broadband — high-speed internet access operating over a cable. 
  • WiFi  a facility that allows multiple devices to connect and communicate via a wireless connection in a particular location. 
  • Mobile broadband (dongle) a small modem that connects via USB to your device and provides you with a mobile internet connection.

So what broadband speed package do I need? That depends on how you use the internet. Generally, small households (1-3 people) will need around 100-500 Mbps to surf the internet freely, download and upload bulky files and stream videos. 

What is broadband?

Broadband is a high-speed internet connection, that allows you to access everything that exists online. It operates over a wired (Ethernet) connection, transmitting signals between the home router or modem to the internet. Broadband is faster than its forerunner, dial-up, due to its ability to transport multiple signals at the same time. The four main types of broadband are Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), copper cable, fibre, and full fibre – each offering different speed capabilities, coverage, and reliability. A full fibre connection is the fastest and most reliable connection you can get.

What is WiFi? 

WiFi is a facility that allows multiple devices - like smartphones, laptops and tablets - to connect to a broadband source via a wireless connection within a particular location range. 


What is Mesh WiFi? 

A Mesh WiFi system goes one step further. By using multiple routers, rather than just one, Mesh WiFi expands the range of your existing WiFi signal, to deliver better, more reliable coverage.  


What’s the difference between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6? 

For the most part, most devices will either use WiFi 5, WiFi 6 or in some cases, WiFi 6e, the latest WiFi technology out there on the market. WiFi 6 not only offers higher speeds compared to WiFi 5, but also improved performance when connecting multiple devices at the same time.  


What is mobile broadband (dongle)?  

Mobile broadband, aka a WiFi dongle, is a small modem that allows you to connect to the internet using either a 3G, 4G or 5G connection. It’s the same method a mobile phone uses to gain access to the internet. You’ll usually need to connect your dongle via USB to your device. Some broadband providers will send out a WiFi dongle when your service is down, enabling you to stay connected while they fix the outage. 


When to use a wired or WiFi connection? 

If speed is your utmost priority, then definitely connect to broadband via an Ethernet cable (a wire that connects from your router, straight to your device). This will always offer the fastest broadband speeds possible and the most stable connection.    

Top tip: If you’re running low on Ethernet ports, you can plug an Ethernet switch into an existing port to expand the number of free ports.  

If mobility is more important and you are ok with some speed reduction compared to a wired connection, then switch to WiFi and enjoy your devices on the move within your WiFi coverage range Most people work via WiFi and can still get fast speeds. So, don’t worry. You probably won’t be left still loading your videos five hours later!  

The most important thing to consider with WiFi is, a higher broadband package will be able to achieve higher (faster) wired and wireless speeds. 


Which broadband speed package do I need?  

Choosing the right speed package will vary depending on your household’s size and needs.  You’ll benefit from a faster broadband package if you have a larger household with many devices connected to the internet.  

  • Light user (20-75 Mbps) — suitable for a small household using one or two devices at the same time to search for jobs, staying in touch with loved ones or tackling finances.  
  • Moderate user (150-200 Mbps) -ideal for a medium-sized household using multiple devices at once to routinely stream HD TV, browse the web and download content.    
  • Heavy user (500-1,000 Mbps) —  great for those who often upload and/or download large files, those who work from home and require exceptionally fast broadband speed to run a fully digital business. 
  • Very heavy user (3,000 Mbps) —  perfect for downloading and uploading large files, regularly video calling and gaming with low latency.     

Choose 100% full fibre for the best of both worlds 

If you're looking for a reliable broadband connection offering both great, symmetrical WiFi and wired broadband speeds, our range of 100% full fibre packages are just what you've been looking for. We have something for everyone, no matter their budget, ranging from an essential package speed for day-to-day tasks, all the way up to London’s fastest broadband speed incredible speeds up to 3,000 Mbps for things like high-precision gaming - plus all our packages come with some of the best routers on the market.

For the ultimate WiFi solution that will help eliminate WiFi dead spots in those hard-to-reach areas of your home, our unbeatable Premium WiFi can help. Most providers offer WiFi extenders to boost your bad WiFi signal that may require you to manually switch between signals as you move around your home. We utilise Intelligent Mesh™ Technology that learns from you, focusing the WiFi signal strength on your location in your home. So, your additional routers will seamlessly switch from one to the other, giving you the best possible WiFi at all times.  

It's London’s fastest speeds and the strongest connection, and comes as part of our 1Gpbs and 3Gpbs service packages. It’ll make all the difference.