The Basics of Wireless Broadband Internet
Learn the ins and outs of wireless broadband Internet, including what it is, how it works, pros and cons, and the best wireless broadband providers.
Wireless broadband is a modern luxury that’s much more flexible and mobile than traditional wired connections. With more options for connectivity than ever before, knowing the basics of wireless broadband technology can help you decide when to use it and when to use wireless alternatives to get the best results.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the ins and outs of wireless connectivity, including types, how it works, pros and cons, as well as what options are available to you.
What is Wireless Broadband?
Sometimes called WiBB within the industry, wireless broadband can deliver incredibly fast high-speed Internet via wireless local area networks (WLAN) or wireless wide area networks. Since this kind of Internet isn’t confined to physical connections like other types of high-speed Internet connections, it’s a common choice for households, businesses, and more.
As a result, many ISPs and mobile service providers offer monthly subscriptions for wireless broadband. Generally, it works by providing direct Internet access (without a wired connection) to a device via a wireless broadband network. It’s important to note that WiBB is not the same as WiFi, though you can use it to create a WiFi hotspot from your modem, cell phone, tablet, or other type of mobile device. They are similar technologies, but WiBB takes connectivity a step further.
Fixed vs. Mobile vs. Wireless Broadband
While exploring the best type of Internet for your needs, it can be helpful to have a clear understanding of the differences between the terms most often used to describe wireless broadband services.
- Fixed Wireless Broadband: Also called Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), it uses fixed antennas to transmit data to stationary locations (i.e., homes, businesses, schools, etc.).
- Mobile Wireless Broadband: Through the use of cell networks, it offers fast, on-the-go Internet access to smartphones, mobile hotspots, etc.
- Wireless Broadband: An overarching term that includes both fixed and mobile broadband types that leverage long-range wireless technology for Internet connectivity.
How Does Wireless Broadband Work?
Wireless Internet works by communicating Internet data using radio waves from a fixed or mobile location to a wireless transceiver, router, or modem. This technology allows for many types of Internet activities that require fast upload and download speeds.
However, since wireless broadband is indeed transmitted through the thin air, it’s not as secure as other forms of broadband technologies. Therefore, it’s typically recommended that you protect your network with a secured password and solid firewall.
Listed below are a few terms and explanations that are commonly associated with wireless broadband services:
- Mbps and Bandwidth: Higher Mbps and bandwidth mean faster data transfer rates. However, many other factors contribute to overall speed.
- Latency and Throughput: Latency refers to the delay in data transmission. Throughput is the volume of data transmitted over time. These have a major effect on network capacity and how much traffic it can handle in a specific period.
- Router and Modem Functionality: The router distributes WiFi signals, while the modem connects to the Internet service provider. However, mobile wireless broadband directly connects to your device, so there is no need for additional equipment.
Pros and Cons of Wireless Broadband
Much like anything else, wireless broadband Internet service comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Wireless Broadband Pros
- Flexible & Versatile: Offers online access anywhere within a given network's coverage area (up to 31 miles from the closest tower).
- Easy Installation & Use: Requires a lot less infrastructure in comparison to traditional wired connections.
- Scalability: Can easily accommodate the expanding coverage needs of households and neighborhoods.
Wireless Broadband Cons
- Limited by Range: Wireless high-speed connectivity can be spotty sometimes, particularly in rural areas.
- Interference: Radio waves can be easily disrupted by other electronics and even physical barriers.
- Speed Variability: Download and upload speeds can fluctuate based on many unforeseen variables (i.e., weather, placement within a building, etc.).
Best Wireless Broadband Options
Above everything else, the provider you choose will have the greatest effect on your Internet speeds and reliability. A few ‘go to’ options with the best data plans include:
- Xfinity: One of the best connectivity experiences in the industry.
- Spectrum: Fast, secure, and reliable network.
- Cox: Offering options that are even faster than typical 5G.
- Optimum: Incredible speed with 99.9% reliability.
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