In this guide, you will find:
What is Home Wi-Fi
Home Wi-Fi is your household wireless network, relying on radio waves rather than cables. It lets you share your home internet connection with all your wireless devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and smart home gear.
Home Wi-Fi also lets you share content between your devices, such as streaming music and video from your smartphone to a smart speaker or smart TV.
Your home Wi-Fi network comes from a wireless router that plugs into your broadband modem. Alternatively, it might come from a single combined wireless gateway.
Remember, your Wi-Fi network probably extends beyond your home, into the street and likely into neighbouring homes.
This means it's vital to have a strong and secure password to keep out invited guests who might want to access devices in your home and/or leech off your home internet connection.
When you sign up with an internet provider, they often send you a new wireless router or wireless gateway. Otherwise, you can buy one separately from electronics retailers such as JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman or Officeworks.
This lets you upgrade your existing Home Wi-Fi network without needing to sign up for a new deal from your internet provider.
Home Wi-Fi grants you the freedom to move wireless devices around your home, rather than staying stuck in the one spot. Devices which don't support Wi-Fi, like your desktop computer or printer, might instead plug into your broadband modem via an Ethernet cable.
One benefit of using ethernet cables is that ethernet tends to be faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi. This is due to interference from other nearby wireless networks and some household appliances.
Thankfully, your ethernet and Wi-Fi devices can talk to each other. For example, you can seamlessly print from your wireless laptop in the dining room to your Ethernet-enabled printer in your home office.
Wi-Fi vs home wireless broadband plans
Wi-Fi is for sharing the internet around your house, while home wireless refers to the connection that gets the internet to your house.
Most Australian homes are connected to the internet via broadband cables running along the street.
Often these cables are part of the high-speed National Broadband Network (NBN), which is built and operated by NBN Co. However, there are alternatives in some areas such as Opticomm.
Rather than rely on these "fixed-line" broadband services, some people prefer to connect to a home wireless broadband service.
This gets the internet to your home via a mobile phone network, with the option to self-install rather than have a technician come to your house. The modem doesn't need a broadband wall socket, just access to a power socket.
In areas with poor fixed-line connections, a 5G home wireless broadband service might offer faster and more reliable internet.
A home wireless broadband service usually isn't locked to your specific address. This makes it easy to take it with you when you move house, assuming your new house is also covered by the same mobile phone network.
Some NBN connections in regional and remote areas rely on fixed-wireless or satellite connections. These are different to home wireless broadband and require an antenna or satellite dish installed on your roof.
Regardless of how the internet gets to your house, you can then use home Wi-Fi to share that internet with all of the devices around your home.
NBN Wi-Fi plans
The NBN aims to reach every home and business in Australia to deliver high-speed internet access.
It is a wholesale network, built and operated by NBN Co. This means you don't sign up with NBN Co directly. Instead, you sign up with an internet provider which then supplies the Internet to your home via the NBN infrastructure.
Depending on where you live, the NBN reaches your home via different technologies. Fibre to the Node involves running optical fibre links to nodes spread throughout a suburb, and then using the existing copper telephone lines to cover the last few hundred metres from the node to your home.
Fibre to the Curb runs fibre down each street and only relies on the copper telephone lines to cover the last few metres from the nature strip to your home, which makes it faster and more reliable. Fibre to the Premises goes one better by running the fibre all the way into your home.
Some buildings and apartment blocks are connected to Fibre to the Basement, relying on the building's internal copper telephone lines to run the internet up to each dwelling.
In some metropolitan areas, NBN Co has retained the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable networks, originally used to deliver pay TV, and now uses them to deliver broadband.
In some regional and remote areas, homes connect to the NBN via fixed-wireless towers or the SkyMuster satellite service. These require an antenna or satellite dish installed on your roof.
NBN plans start at 12 Mbps and include 25 Mbps, 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps options. In theory, every NBN connection technology can deliver at least 100 Mbps. In practice, some Fibre to the Node, fixed-wireless and SkyMuster satellite services might only offer closer to 50 Mbps.
In some areas, homes connected to Fibre to the Premises or HFC can access speeds of 250 Mbps or even 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps).
In February 2023, NBN Co announced it is upgrading 10 million homes and businesses to Fibre to the Premises by 2025.
To receive a free NBN FTTP upgrade, homes and businesses currently on Fibre to the Curb or Fibre to the Node connections must upgrade to a minimum download speed of 100 Mbps.
Each NBN internet speed is designed to cater to different usage patterns, from basic browsing and streaming to heavy gaming and large file downloads.
Whichever NBN technology you rely on, or speed you choose, your internet provider likely offers the option of a new wireless router or wireless gateway for running your home Wi-Fi network.
NBN Wi-Fi bundles
Bundling your internet service with a home phone line connection is an excellent way to reduce monthly bills.
Most providers offer a variety of internet phone bundles that include unlimited local, national and mobile calls at a discounted rate. Other bundles charge $0 for the home phone line connection, but require you to pay for your calls.
If you don't need a home phone line connection, most providers offer the option of an internet only plan.
Opticomm Wi-Fi Plans
Opticomm, part of the Uniti Group, offers an alternative to NBN's Fibre to the Premises network. Its services are not available to all Australian homes, but are limited to buildings and communities which selected Opticomm as their wholesale internet service provider.
Similar to the NBN, residential customers do not sign up with Opticomm directly. Instead, if Opticomm is available at their residence, they sign up for an Opticomm plan with an internet provider – allowing customers to compare prices between providers. Opticomm services are only available in Australia's major cities and a handful of regional areas.
Opticomm uses the next-generation GPON/XGS-PON fibre technology to deliver internet access, supporting up to 10 Gbps downstream and upstream connection speeds. It is available to more than 500,000 addressable premises with plans for continued growth.
As with the NBN, Opticomm has several residential speed tiers ranging from 12 Mbps all the way up to 1000 Mbps. Like NBN plans, Opticomm plans often come with the option of a new wireless router or wireless gateway for running your home Wi-Fi network.
Compare Home Wi-Fi plan providers
With so many home internet broadband plans including home Wi-Fi, finding the perfect match for your needs can be quite a challenge. To make an informed decision, follow the steps below and use our broadband comparison tool to select the best home Wi-Fi plan.
- Determine your average monthly data usage: Start by considering much data you need each month. If you stream a lot of music and videos, play online games, or download large files, then an unlimited NBN plan may be the best option. The good news is that most NBN internet providers offer affordable unlimited data plans.
- Assess your required upload and download speeds: The download speed of your home internet connection can have a big impact on performance, such as the smooth 4K video streaming and responsive online gaming. Speed is particularly important if multiple people in your house use the internet at the same time. Also consider upload speeds, which are important if you make a lot of video calls or regularly upload large files. Remember that higher-internet speeds generally cost more but may provide a faster and smoother internet experience.
- Research pricing options: When you know your required speed and data allowance, you can start considering plans from different internet providers to find the best deal in terms of quality and cost. Even small pricing differences can add up over time, so make sure you find the right balance between cost and service quality.
- Consider special offers and free installation: Many internet providers offer free installation and equipment, including a wireless gateway or wireless router, when you sign up for their plans.
- Look at real-world performance: Don't just take internet providers at their word, also consider their published typical evening speeds and their reputation, including customer reviews.
- Review contract terms: Some internet providers offer month-to-month no-lock-in contract plans, while others require long-term commitments. A longer-term agreement may be worth considering to secure a better deal.
- Use Compare Broadband's broadband comparison tool: Reviewing all the available options and narrowing down your options helps you make an informed choice based on your needs. You can also call our hotline or chat with our experts for a faster comparison and tailored advice.
- Call our experts and sign up for a home Wi-Fi internet service: You can directly subscribe to an internet plan with home Wi-Fi by calling Compare Broadband. We'll assist you throughout the process, whether you want to get a new home internet service or are switching between internet providers.
Remember, it's essential to do thorough research and consider all relevant factors when comparing internet plans.
At Compare Broadband, we make it easy to compare and review the best internet plans available in your area.
Our comprehensive comparison tool lets you easily filter your search results by data allowance, typical evening speeds and much more.
How to switch home Wi-Fi providers
Switching internet providers can seem daunting but, with the help of Compare Broadband, it's a straightforward process.
Keep in mind, your internet provider is responsible for the performance of the internet connection to your house, while your wireless router/gateway is responsible for the performance of the Wi-Fi network around your house.
If you're unhappy with your home Wi-Fi, one option is to switch to an internet provider which offers a better wireless router/gateway as part of their deal.
Alternatively, you can stick with your current internet provider and just upgrade your wireless router/gateway. It's possible your internet provider might be able to offer you a new wireless router/gateway, or you can buy one elsewhere (although you might need help from your internet provider's tech support to set it up).
If you've decided it's time to switch internet providers, follow the steps below.
- Use Compare Broadband's comparison tool: Our comparison tool helps you find the best home Wi-Fi provider and plan for your needs. You can filter the plans based on the type of internet connection, minimum speed, how much data you need and any additional features including a wireless router/gateway.
- Sign up or get more information: Once you've found your preferred internet plan, you can sign up online through Compare Broadband. Call us on our hotline for any questions or if you need further assistance.
- Chat with your new provider: Ask them about plan options, hardware options and the installation/setup process.
- Set up any new equipment: Most internet plans offer the option to purchase a pre-configured wireless router or wireless gateway. If you already have a modem that's compatible with your new plan, and you're happy to keep using it, most providers also have BYO options.
- Get ready for the switch: Switching providers should be a quick and painless process. There should be no more than an hour of downtime. However, if switching involves changing equipment or upgrades, it may take a few weeks depending on the availability of NBN technicians. At Compare Broadband, we can facilitate the switchover so you don't have to worry.
- Backup your data: Always backup any data that is dependent on your current internet provider, before you cancel the service and move to your new internet provider. This includes any important files or documents, any important emails in the inbox supplied by your service provider. It's also a good time to organise taking your home phone number with you.
- Cancel your old service: Make sure you cancel your old service to avoid getting billed for two connections. In some instances, your new provider will contact your old provider to let them know you are switching. But, as a general rule, customers are responsible for cancelling their old service.
How to set up your Wi-Fi network
Whether you get a wireless router/gateway from your internet provider, or you buy one separately, it should come with instructions on how to set up your home Wi-Fi network.
This usually involves plugging the wireless router/gateway into the NBN connection box using an ethernet cable. Often, the wireless router/gateway will come with a pre-configured Wi-Fi network name and password. Sometimes, you will need to follow the supplied instructions to configure the Wi-Fi settings yourself, such as creating a network name and password.
Once your Wi-Fi network is set up, you can get your devices online by selecting your Wi-Fi name and then entering your password.
How to improve home Wi-Fi speeds
Home Wi-Fi coverage can be a little fickle, but a few simple tweaks can help fix blackspots around your home and boost Wi-Fi speeds.
Your Wi-Fi network might stretch a long way outside, but it doesn't always do a great job of punching through solid objects inside your home. Keep in mind that 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks run faster than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks, but they're not as good at penetrating walls.
Placing your wireless router/gateway in a central part of your house, up high and out in the open, can help extend your Wi-Fi network to those hard-to-reach places. Keep it upright, don't hang it sideways, as most of the signal comes out of the sides.
Sometimes, you might get interference from other nearby Wi-Fi networks. These days, wireless router/gateways are pretty good at automatically selecting the best wireless channels to avoid local interference, but it's also something you can change manually in the Wi-Fi settings.
Also consider interference from other electrical gear in your home. Placing other wireless gear such as cordless phone base stations too close to your Wi-Fi base station can cause trouble.
It's not just wireless gear, any electrical equipment that's too close to your wireless router/gateway could be pumping out electromagnetic interference and playing havoc with your Wi-Fi network.
If all else fails, consider a mesh Wi-Fi system, or a Wi-Fi range extender.
About the author
||Adam Turner is an award-winning Australian technology journalist, corporate writer and podcaster who has been writing for more than 20 years about the technology challenges facing Australian businesses and consumers.