Despite the terms commonly being used interchangeably, broadband and WiFi are not the same thing.
Misunderstanding the difference between your home broadband and your WiFi connection can lead to problems diagnosing what’s really going on with your internet, so it is handy to know the difference.
What is broadband?
Broadband is a type of internet connection given to you by your internet service provider. It’s the actual internet connection that your router uses to send and receive data from your house to the wider world.
Your broadband can be accessed via a LAN cable directly connecting your router and device. If you want to connect your devices wirelessly without a physical cable, you’ll need WiFi. So, what does that really mean
What is WiFi?
To put it simply, WiFi uses radio frequencies and signals to transfer data without wires. It allows you to connect your phone or laptop to your router, which then connects to the internet.
WiFi allows you more freedom to move around your house without losing connection, as long as you stay within the signal range. WiFi often comes built into home broadband routers as standard. The WiFi signal broadcasted from your router will get weaker the further away you are from it. The signal will also weaken when it’s required to travel through multiple walls and obstacles to reach your devices. Often the WiFi may not cover your entire house creating areas where your devices will not be able to connect.
Is WiFi the same as wireless broadband?
There is also often confusion between WiFi and wireless broadband.
Wireless or ‘mobile’ broadband is just a type of broadband that you can have for your home or business. Rather than operating over a wire, mobile broadband uses 3G, 4G or 5G to connect directly to the internet via a mobile operator’s network.
Even if you are using a wireless broadband system, you still need to connect your devices to your router’s WiFi to make use of this connection.
Is it my broadband or WiFi that’s causing problems?
It’s not always easy to work out whether it’s your broadband or WiFi that is slow.
If you can see the WiFi symbol on your devices indicating that they are connected to the router, but nothing is loading on the devices, this suggests there is a problem with your broadband connection between the router and the internet itself.
Whereas, if you can use the internet on your computer when it’s connected via a LAN cable to the router, but you can’t wirelessly connect on your phone, there is likely a problem with your WiFi.
WiFi issues can often be solved by moving closing to the router and removing anything that might be obstructing the signal. If this cannot be done, you can easily boost the WiFi in weak areas using WiFi access points that extend the WiFi around your property.