What Is WiFi and How Do I Get It?

A wireless or WiFi network uses a radio frequency signal instead of wires to connect your devices - such as computers, printers and smartphones - to the Internet and each other. The WiFi signal can be picked up by any wireless-capable device such as a laptop or tablet within a certain distance in all directions. See Better WiFi Network Performance Tips and When to Upgrade Wireless Network Equipment for more information.

Why Do I Need WiFi?

Considering whether or not to set up WiFi in your home? Here are just a few reasons to set up a wireless network in your home:
  • Freedom to access the Internet from anywhere within the signal range and move your devices around your home - anywhere within the WiFi signal range - without losing your connection. Take any mobile device, like a laptop, into any room and still have Internet access, no extra work required.
  • Ability to access other devices connected to your network, for example, multiple computers can use one printer without a directly wired connection.
  • Access to the Internet on devices like smartphones and tablets to download books, music, movies and apps, or surf the web.
  • Freedom from the hassle of installing wired connections in different rooms.

How Do I Get WiFi in My Home?

To establish WiFi in your home, all you need is either a modem connected to a wireless router, or a wireless gateway, which is a modem and wireless router in one unit (see What is a Wireless Gateway? for more information). The modem provides access to the Internet, and the router broadcasts a WiFi signal, allowing your devices to connect to each other and the Internet. A WiFi-capable device can then use this signal to connect to the Internet. 
Wireless Home Network - Diagram of devices and their relationships to one another when networked

Routers are available from many different manufacturers. The Wireless Gateway 1 (model numbers TG852G, TG862G, SMCD3GNV, TC8305C), Wireless Gateway 2 (model number DPC3939) and Wireless Gateway 3 (model numbers DPC3941T and TC8717) are Comcast-provided devices that connect your Internet, phone and home network. They make setting up a wireless home network as simple as possible. See What is a Wireless Gateway? for more information.

Is WiFi Secure?

Because WiFi devices use a broadcast signal instead of wires to connect to the Internet and teach other, it is possible for unauthorized users to access your network. This could reduce the speed of your connection or make you vulnerable to things like identity theft. Yet there are multiple ways to ensure that your wireless home network is secure.

All of Comcast's wireless gateways come pre-set with the best possible security options for a home network. However, if you have a router from another manufacturer, there are many different steps you can take to protect your network. See Use the Admin Tool to Secure Your Wireless Network for the security options available for your wireless gateway.

What is Dual-Band WiFi?

Comcast's Wireless Gateway 2 and Wireless Gateway 3 devices offer dual-band WiFi. Dual-band WiFi provides simultaneous WiFi to network devices using both wireless radio bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).

More WiFi devices today are dual-band capable, while many older devices are only single-band capable and can only connect to 2.4 GHz networks. Check your WiFi device's user guide to determine which WiFi band(s) are supported. If your device is 5 GHz-compatible, then you will see two Wireless Gateway Network Names (SSIDs) and have the option of connecting to either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz (when they are both available).

Since your WiFi device can only connect to one WiFi network at a time, you may be wondering which band you should choose. The following table provides general guidance to help you decide which band may be better, depending on your situation:
Feature Definition 5 GHz 2.4 GHz More Information
Faster Speed Speed is the rate of data transmission, or bandwidth X   5 GHz is better for applications requiring high-bandwidth like streaming video.
Less WiFi Interference Interference disrupts the WiFi signal from the wireless gateway X   Generally, less interference will improve your WiFi device's speed.
Better WiFi Range Range is the distance between the wireless gateway and your WiFi device   X The further away your WiFi device is from your wireless gateway, the weaker the WiFi signal. Generally, 2.4 GHz signals travel farther than 5 GHz signals.

To check if you are connected to your 2.4 or 5 GHz WiFi band, go to the WiFi network settings on your WiFi device.

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