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I want wireless broadband at home. What’s the difference between ADSL Wi-Fi and Mobile Wireless?

  • Wi-Fi is a feature of your modem, not your service
  • Mobile broadband relies on mobile networks
  • ADSL2+ broadband is much better value than mobile

03/05/2010

If you have a laptop and want to say on the internet whilst in every room of your home, or in your front garden or backyard for that matter (sitting outside whilst online is now a popular pastime), it’s necessary to get a wireless internet connection.

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When you have more than one desktop computer and you want to have the second PC connected without cables to work in another room away from the modem, a wireless connection is also the solution.
 
An issue arises because there are two types of wireless connections, ADSL Wi-Fi and Mobile Wireless, and it can be confusing as to which one would be best for your unique needs. Here’s a wireless guide to put you on the right path.

The ADSL Wi-Fi option:

ADSL Wi-Fi is when you have a normal ADSL or ADSL2+ broadband connection coming into your house via a copper telephone landline wire, and you use an ADSL modem with wireless capabilities to create a Wi-Fi signal within your home.

ADSL is the optimal form of wireless internet one can have at home, and if it’s possible (some areas are too far from the phone exchange to receive ADSL), you should go for it. ADSL broadband is cheap, you get a large amount of download data, and it’s a fast internet connection.

How does an ADSL Wi-Fi connection work?

ADSL Wi-Fi works via a modem with a built-in antenna. You plug your phone line into the modem (via a line filter), and any wirelessly enabled computers, like laptops or desktops with wireless cards, can connect to the internet via the home’s internal Wi-Fi signal.

This signal is technically known as a network. You’ll need to set up a security password so your neighbours don’t ‘borrow’ your bandwidth. (I know they are nice people, but if their own limit has been reached, you never know what level they might steep to in order to watch their coveted Desperate Housewives TV show online.

The Mobile Wireless broadband option:

Mobile Wireless broadband is where you plug a small USB stick, or ‘dongle’ as it’s commonly referred to, into your computer so you can receive an internet signal via the mobile phone towers. The USB stick has a SIM card inside of it, and works much like a mobile phone.

Mobile Wireless is great for people who want to be online everywhere they go. Those who travel a lot for business or pleasure can connect to wireless signals all over Australia, because this type of modem functions anywhere, and isn’t restricted to the area within their own home like ADSL Wi-Fi. However, Mobile Wireless is limited to coverage areas that a specific provider’s mobile phone towers’ service.

If you are a light internet user, Mobile Wireless can be a great option, as you don’t need to pay for an active landline telephone service, and plans are often prepaid, or cheap for small amounts of provided data. If your coverage is good, you can get great speeds, especially if you’re on a 3G, 3.5G, or NextG service.

Mobile Wireless Broadband pitfalls:

On the other side of the coin, like a mobile phone Mobile Wireless can be more temperamental than a stable ADSL internet connection, as ‘dropouts’ and ‘black spots’ can occur. Dropouts are similar to when your mobile suddenly loses connection, and a black spot is where a geographical feature impedes the flow of a mobile phone tower’s wavelength so that you can’t find a signal.

Relatively, Mobile Wireless works out to be more expensive than ADSL if you are a heavy user, it doesn’t provide a lot of download data, and speeds can change unpredictably. However, this technology has come a long way and is evolving at an exponential rate.

If you are at home and have Mobile Wireless because you are a fair way from a phone exchange, or you don’t want to have a landline, there are times when you are simply too far from the mobile phone tower to get a strong signal. In these instances you can add an antenna that enhances the reception and/or speed of the connection.

Wirelessly networking multiple computers:


If you have more than one computer at home, it’s often ideal to have a wireless router set up so you and your friends/family/colleagues can be online at the same time.

For ADSL Wi-Fi connections this is simple, as the modem and router are usually combined in one unit. Even if your ADSL modem doesn’t have a router you can buy one separately, and each computer will be able to access the same high-quality ADSL connection.

With Mobile Wireless this network is more difficult to create, as a USB dongle can only plug into one computer at a time. In cases like this, you would have to purchase a special Mobile Wireless router to create a Wi-Fi signal within the home. As Mobile Wireless speeds are slower, and data limits lower than that of ADSL, this type of network doesn’t always provide each person with a good user experience.


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