Lots of us may be switching to superfast fibre optic internet, but some people are choosing another high-tech option to get online: wireless broadband.
While most broadband is delivered through copper or fibre optic cables, wireless is a different thing entirely. It reaches your home via radio waves, just like 4G or mobile phone signal - or a very, very big Wi-Fi hotspot.
When you take out a wireless broadband package, you'll get sent a router that picks up on the signal from the provider's masts, and in turn connects your devices to the internet.
It's a great alternative in areas where standard cabled broadband isn't quite good enough, or in a busy household where you just want to plug in and get online straight away.
What's a WISP?
It's one letter away from a delicious chocolate bar, but it's also a wireless internet service provider.
They're the companies that own and maintain the wireless networks, and they're who you go to when you want to subscribe to a package. Most tend to be local, or in specific locations - Relish can only be found in central London and Swindon, for instance. Plenty have been set up by rural communities too, often in more remote areas where phone lines and cables struggle to reach or where fibre optic cables haven't been laid yet.
Who offers wireless broadband?
Most wireless broadband providers are location-specific - so you'll need to find out exactly who operates in your area. A few, particularly satellite-based providers, operate all over the country.
One of our favourite wireless broadband providers that we list on our site is Relish - whose internet works using 4G, just like a mobile network. We like it because unlike a lot of wireless providers, its packages include unlimited data downloads.
The downside is that it's only available in central London and Swindon. But if you're in the right area, you're in luck.
What's good about wireless broadband?
- It's useful for areas where line-based broadband speeds are poor, particularly in rural areas that cables struggle to reach.
- You can set it up as soon as you get your router - there's no need for an engineer to visit.
- You don't need a phone line if you don't want it.
- Pricing is generally affordable.
- If you move house within the same area, you can usually just take your router with you and set it up again - there's no need to worry about complex home moves.
What's bad about wireless broadband?
- Wireless broadband isn't as reliable, and speeds aren't as consistent, as ADSL or fibre connections.
- Download speeds aren't that fast, and there's little hope of getting fibre-level speeds. Some wireless providers, in fact, have maximum speeds of a measly 1Mb.
- Most wireless networks only cover a limited local area.
- Wireless connections aren't as secure as wired ones - by cutting out the physical connection, they're more open to hackers.
- A lot of factors can stop you from getting good wireless signal. Things like thick walls, tall buildings, living in a valley, and even bad weather can all affect your broadband.
Featured fixed-line broadband deals
|Broadband Unlimited||Fast Broadband||Unlimited Broadband - Line Rental Only||Unlimited Broadband||Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls||Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls|
|£189.95 Total first year cost||£239.40 Total first year cost||£362.00 Total first year cost||£233.88 Total first year cost||£418.87 Total first year cost||£228.00 Total first year cost|
|£15.00 p/m for 12 months £9.95 setup costs 12 month contract||£19.95 p/m for 12 months 12 month contract||£26.00 p/m for 1 month £50.00 setup costs 1 month contract||£19.49 p/m for 12 months 12 month contract||£31.99 p/m for 12 months £34.99 setup costs 12 month contract||£19.00 p/m for 18 months 18 month contract|
|Up To 17 Mb||Up To 17 Mb||Up To 17 Mb||Up To 17 Mb||Up To 52 Mb||Up To 17 Mb|
|Pay as you go||Pay as you go||Pay as you go||Pay as you go||Weekend calls inc.||Weekend calls inc.|
|Offer ends 28/09/17||Offer ends 28/09/17||Offer ends 28/09/17||Offer ends 31/01/18|
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Call SSE on 0345 078 3294
Mon - Fri 8am-8pmSat 8am-2pm
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm