Do you want wireless or Wi-Fi broadband?

  • There’s a difference!
  • Make sure you understand what you’re asking for
  • Best value wireless and Wi-Fi plans to suit your needs

Do you want wireless or Wi-Fi? Misunderstanding broadband terms will cause you much confusion in your search for a broadband plan. The last thing you want is to sign up to a plan you don't want or need. Knowing exactly what product you are after will help you make informed decisions and find the right plan that best suits you. Wireless broadband and Wi-Fi internet are two different technologies; one is a broadband product while the other is a feature of your modem. This article will explain the difference between both terms and go into detail as to how both technologies work.

                                          

Wireless vs Wi-Fi

Wireless broadband, as the term suggests, is a broadband product that does not use wires to connect you to the internet. You are not using a technology that is plugged into sockets, or transferring data through wires and cables. You are using something like a dongle, usb stick or pocket hot spot to connect your computer to the internet. When internet service providers market wireless internet they generally call the product mobile broadband. If you want wireless internet that connects through a dongle or usb without using wires then you should look at mobile broadband plans when researching your internet options. Wi-Fi on the other hand is a feature of your modem. Your modem will transmit internet around your house wirelessly, however you are connected to the internet through physical wires. This may be through copper wires through ADSL broadband, or fibre optic wires through cable broadband. When shopping for internet you should ask yourself “Do I want the internet wireless around my house (Wi-Fi) or do I want it wireless so that I can take it outside of my house (mobile broadband)?”

                      

Mobile Broadband (wireless internet)

The merit of purchasing mobile broadband is its mobility. You are able to take the internet with you anywhere. This is handy if you own a laptop and intend to use the internet outside of your house. For example you can use your computer in the park or take it on public transport. Mobile broadband, however, is not practical if you require lots of data. In general most internet service providers will provide plans at a maximum data allowance of 15GB per month. If you are intending to download lots of data and use the internet heavily, mobile or wireless broadband is not the best option. This is tied to way mobile broadband works and the technology it runs on. Mobile broadband uses the technology from radio towers to connect you to the internet, the same way you use internet on you mobile phone. The radio tower sends data to your usb, dongle or pocket hot spot through electromagnetic radio waves. If you think about this logically, internet data is travelling through the air, and although the radio waves can travel through buildings and the walls of your house it loses some of its efficiency. If you were standing right next to the radio tower where the data would travel straight and uninterrupted to your wireless modem in theory you would achieve extremely fast speeds and consistent connection.   

                                
Highlighting the limitations of mobile broadband is not to say it is an ineffective internet option, rather it is show that mobile broadband is for a specific type of user with specific needs. If you only need small amounts of data or require the ability to take it outside your house then mobile broadband is for you. If this is not what you are after then asking or searching for “wireless internet” is not what you want!

ADSL and cable broadband (Wi-Fi internet)

Most people who are looking to get “Wi-Fi” internet in their home are really after ADSL broadband. ADSL broadband uses the copper wiring in the telephone network to supply your house with internet. Data travels to your telephone exchange and then along the copper wires in your telephone line to your house. To access the internet you plug your modem into the telephone socket in your wall. If you want to connect to the internet “wirelessly” at this point you need to have a Wi-Fi modem. A Wi-Fi modem is a modem with the ability to transmit the internet wirelessly around your house. Again, to reiterate, this is different to wireless or mobile broadband. The Wi-Fi modem cannot be taken outside of your house as it is connected to copper wires in your wall in order to work.

The merits of purchasing ADSL broadband are the high data allowances available and the ability, for most users, to reach high speeds consistently. Internet service providers can offer large amounts of data usage with the majority of providers offering unlimited data plans. If this is the kind of internet you are looking for you should be searching for ADSL broadband plans and/or home phone bundles. Calling a company and simply asking for “wireless” is confusing for the salesperson and you!

                           

Cable broadband is also a product that allows you to plug a Wi-Fi modem (cable compatible modem) into the wall and access internet wirelessly around your house. Cable broadband uses fibre optic cables to connect your house to the internet. The merit of purchasing cable broadband is fast speeds. As already explained, ADSL broadband uses the copper wire network to bring internet to your home. Although ADSL speeds are relatively fast the speed you will get is ultimately based on the distance that your house is from your telephone exchange. The closer you are to your telephone exchange the faster your ADSL speed will be. Conversely, cable broadband is fast no matter how far away you are from your telephone exchange. Cable broadband is not readily available to all homes, it is only available to a small number of homes. Therefore, again, in most cases if you are after Wi-Fi you are most likely after ADSL broadband.

Best Broadband Deals

Below is a list of recommended plans for each broadband product.

Mobile broadband (wireless internet)

Club Telco 1300 138 155

Club Telco have a 15GB plan for $55 per month. Club Telco have no contracts and a low set up a fee. This is one of the cheapest plans for 15GB on the market and highly recommended as a value for money plan.

If you only need a small amount of data Club Telco are really competitive in mobile broadband pricing. They have a 5GB plan for $25 per month.

Optus 1300 137 897

Optus is one of the few providers that offer of 20GB for mobile broadband plan. If you absolutely need more than 20GB per month your best option is to go with is Optus. They have a 20GB plan for $79.95 per month.

                                



ADSL broadband (Wi-Fi modem options)

TPG 1300 764 000

TPG has a competitive and cheap priced unlimited plan for $59.99 per month. This is one of the cheapest unlimited plans you will find on the market. TPG is also great if you require the home phone to make phone calls.

MyNetFone 1300 421 046

MyNetFone is the best provider to go with if you do not require a home phone to make phone calls. Their most competitive plan is a 200GB plan for $49.95 per month.

Club Telco 1300 138 155

Club Telco have an unlimited plan that starts at $55 per month. The pricing depends on which zone you fall in so you will need to call Club Telco to check if you fall in their local zone to have the $55 unlimited plan.

                             



Cable broadband (Wi-Fi modem options)

Optus 1300 137 897

There are only two companies in Australia that offer cable broadband, Telstra and Optus. Optus is your cheapest option for cable. They currently have a 120GB plan for $75 per month. You will need to call Optus to check if they can service you.

                        

Conclusion

Now that you know the difference between wireless and Wi-Fi you should be able to effectively select the plan most suited to your needs. Remember wireless internet is internet that does not connect through any wires so you can take it outside of your house. It is better known as mobile broadband. Wi-Fi is not internet, it is a feature of your modem. If you purchase ADSL or cable broadband you can get a Wi-Fi modem that transmits internet around your house wirelessly.