The technology of home wi-fi seems more complicated than it really is.
As a company that installs everything from home cinemas in London to intelligent home systems, we often get asked to do home wi-fi installations. And though we do the heavy lifting of setting up your home wi-fi system so that everything runs smoothly, it’s important that you also understand the basics of how home wi-fi works. That way, you can decide which type of wi-fi system is best for you.
In this article, we give you a 10-minute rundown of everything you need to know about home wireless networks.
What Does “Bandwidth” Mean? And Other Home Wi-Fi Technical Terms Defined
Bandwidth is your wireless connection’s capacity to transmit data from your router to your device.
To illustrate why you should care about bandwidth, imagine that your internet connection is like a motorway. It has one set speed. But as more people enter the motorway, traffic makes it impossible for everyone to move at the set speed at the same time, and the average speed slows. Similarly, as more devices begin using internet in your home, you may experience a crowded bandwidth and, consequently, lower internet speeds.
Broadband simply means high-speed internet. For a wireless connection to be considered broadband, it must be on all the time and have higher speeds than dial-up internet.
Your internet speed is how fast you can upload or download something (such as a file or video) to or from the internet. It’s measured in megabits per second (MBPS). In the U.K., your speed should be at least 10 MBPS, but for high-quality video streaming, you’ll want at least 25 MBPS.
ISP stands for “Internet Service Provider,” which is the company from which you purchase your internet every month. For example, Virgin Media and BT are two popular ISPs in the U.K.
A modem collects signals from your Internet Service Provider and transforms them into signals that can be processed by wi-fi enabled devices. It’s usually a rectangular box that’s plugged into your router.
A router broadcasts the transformed signals from your modem throughout your home. It usually looks like a rectangular box with thick antennae and is connected to your modem.
SSID stands for “Service Set Identifier.” Simply put, it’s the name of your wireless network. When you connect to a wi-fi network, the SSID (for example, “Smith Family Wi-fi”) is what you see.
What does wi-fi mean? Wi-fi is just the term used to describe the technology that allows electronic devices to connect to the Internet without using an Ethernet cable.
Wireless Networks Vs. Wired Networks for Your Home
A wired network requires an Ethernet cable to physically connect your device to the source of your internet—like your telephone access point or modem. A wireless network doesn’t require an Ethernet cable.
Most homeowners prefer a wireless network to a wired network because a wireless network is more convenient. You can access the internet from anywhere in your home, instead of having to sit near your Ethernet cord connection. Additionally, many devices, like tablets and smartphones, don’t have an Ethernet port at all.
The advantage of a wired network is that internet speeds are faster and more reliable.
Types of Home Wi-Fi Connections
DSL stands for “Digital Subscriber Line,” and it’s one of the oldest types of broadband network. It connects to data through your telephone line. Like other types of internet for your home, a DSL connection can provide you with wi-fi by connecting the modem to a router. But DSL networks are not very common in the U.K.
A satellite internet connection works just like satellite TV, with a satellite dish on your roof connecting to a fixed satellite in space. This type of connection is fast, but it can be disrupted by bad weather.
For those in rural areas, this may be the only option. That’s because other connections require infrastructure like telephone or cable lines to be run out to your home, and rural areas may not have such infrastructure.
A fibre optics connection is the fastest and newest form of broadband network since it transmits data through light signals—at the speed of light. Unfortunately, because it requires a whole new line (a glass
fibre as thin as a strand of hair) to be run to your home, it’s only available in heavily populated areas where the cost is worth it for ISPs.
Cable is the most common type of wi-fi connection in the U.K. A cable wireless network connects through a cable television provider. Because cable lines are already extensive through most of the country, it doesn’t require costly new infrastructure. Plus, internet speeds are much faster than DSL.
How to Set Up Your Home Wi-Fi
No matter which type of wireless connection you choose, the setup is user-friendly. Here are the basics of how to set up wi-fi in your home:
- Get a wi-fi modem and router. Many ISPs offer the option to rent a modem–router combination as part of a monthly internet package, or you can buy your own.
- Plug your modem into the proper access point. For cable connections, you plug it into your cable jack. For fibre connections, you plug it into your fibre network access point.
- Connect your modem to your router.
- Plug both your modem and router into a power source (like a wall socket). The lights on both devices will likely start blinking. Wait until the lights have stabilized.
- Note the default name (the SSID) of your wireless network and password. Both are usually found on the back of your router.
- Connect your wi-fi enabled devices to your wireless network.
- Change the name of your network and password to something easy for you to remember and for guests to recognize. Typically, you can do this by logging into your online account with your ISP, or through your ISP’s mobile app.
Understanding and setting up a home wi-fi network is easier than it might seem at first. Hopefully, the information in this article has given you a great foundation in the technology of home wi-fi.
For a secure home wi-fi installation that integrates with your existing home technology, contact us for a quick and easy consultation.