If you’ve been working or learning from home a lot recently due to local lockdowns, you might have noticed something strange about your internet connection.
Your 4G or LTE data from your phone is often faster than your home Wi Fi.
You would probably expect this to be the other way around, especially since your Wi Fi router relies on a fixed-line broadband connection, rather than having to connect to the nearest 4G tower.
And for most of the UK, it’s true that Wi Fi will generally be faster than mobile data.
However, if your fixed-line broadband connection isn’t as fast as your phone internet, you’re not alone.
Why is Wi Fi sometimes slower than mobile broadband?
Phillip, one of our readers, explained why he was looking at getting a dongle:
“I am at the end of a copper line and my speeds are 0.29 to 3.00 mbps. I am also at the end of my tether as no fibre yet.”
For Philip, and thousands of other Brits, fixed-line broadband is slower than using mobile data.
This is because the local broadband infrastructure isn’t up to scratch. Meanwhile, 4G connections can offer speeds of around 100 Mbps – 4G is actually quite fast if you can get a good signal.
Therefore, if you can only get slow broadband speeds in your local area, but there is good 4G/5G coverage nearby, then your phone internet might be faster.
I pay for fast broadband – why is my Wi Fi slower than my phone 4G?
However, it’s also possible to have good local broadband infrastructure and still have slow home broadband speeds.
If you’re not getting the speeds you’re paying for, there are a few different problems that could be causing the issue:
- An outdated router, causing slow Wi Fi.
- Lots of people in your household getting online at the same time, slowing everything down.
- High peak period internet use in your neighbourhood, throttling your speeds.
To learn more about improving your Wi Fi speeds, read our internet speed improvement guide.
What else can I do to get faster Wi Fi?
Apart from the internet speed improvements in the guide we just mentioned, there are some other ways to make your Wi Fi faster again.
- See if you can upgrade your plan. If you have extremely slow speeds, it could be due to poor local infrastructure. Or, it could be because your broadband package isn’t fast enough. This is more likely to be the case if you’ve been on the same plan for a long time, because internet service providers (ISPs) used to sell much slower broadband connections in the past.
- Contact your provider to complain. This is the best option if you know you’re not getting the speeds you’re paying for, because your ISP is obligated to help you fix the issue.
In truth, unless you live in a rural area with very poor broadband speeds, you should get using your fixed-line connection to get online, because it will normally offer a more stable connection. Therefore, it’s worth doing everything you can to ensure that your home Wi Fi is as fast as possible.
Can I use my phone internet all the time?
In theory, there is nothing wrong with using your phone internet all the time if it’s faster than what you can get with fixed-line broadband. To do this, you can tether your phone to your laptop or create a mobile hotspot to connect to other devices.
There are just a few things to consider before you begin doing this.
First, ensure you have enough data. All broadband plans sold these days have no data cap, because with the amount of video streaming we do today, any data limit would be hit very quickly by most households. You might want to consider getting an unlimited data SIM or mobile plan if you don’t have one already.
Second, ensure that the connection is consistent. While 4G/5G might be faster than your home Wi Fi, you might have problems with your internet dropping out, especially during bad weather. To test your connection, run a tool like Ping Plotter and see how often you face ping spikes or complete internet dropouts.
Finally, think about how you’ll connect your different devices to the internet. If you’re online all the time at home, you might not want to rely on just your phone’s tethering. This is why dongles are so popular. EE also makes a wireless 4G router, so you don’t ever have to worry about tethering or connecting to a dongle before getting online at home.
About the author
Tyler built his first PC at the age of 12, and since then, he’s become obsessed with all things networking and internet-related. He’s a massive gamer, loves Rocket League, and also plays Sunday League football.