What is a WiFi Router and how does it work?

A WiFi router is a clever device that connects your home to the internet and sends WiFi signals around your house. It acts like a middleman, linking your broadband to all of your devices so you can browse, stream and game online.

27 Jul 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

How does a WiFi router work?

A router creates a WiFi network using radio waves and antennas to spread wireless signals around your home. It’s constantly broadcasting these signals like a radio station. Your devices have WiFi antennas built in to ‘tune in’ to the router’s wireless network. They detect the signals and send back data of their own via invisible WiFi radio waves.

It’s helpful to think of the router like a postal service. The router receives ‘letters’ (data) from the internet through the broadband line ‘mailbox’. It then distributes copies of the letters wirelessly throughout the 'neighbourhood' (your home) so all devices can read the information. Devices can also send letters back via the router.

The router also acts like a supervisor making sure information goes to the right devices and managing all connections at once. It directs the traffic ensuring your WiFi network doesn’t get congested. Your WiFi router can also impact bandwidth, find out more on how bandwidth works and what you can do to improve it.

Where should I put my WiFi router?

Ideally you want your router in a central, open location to spread WiFi evenly throughout your home. Avoid corners, thick walls, floors and cluttered spaces as these can block and weaken wireless signals.

High up spaces are best, so place it on a shelf or wall-mount it up high leaving it free to broadcast in all directions. The closer your devices are to the router, the stronger the connection. Having it downstairs in a hallway often gives good range to rooms above too. If you've got an outdoor office or enjoy using broadband in the garden, you may want to check out tips on how to extend WiFi to your garden.

Also keep it switched on and plugged into a power socket – don’t hide it away in a cupboard! And make sure the aerials aren’t covered or touching anything, as this can hamper WiFi signals getting out. Find out more on how to improve your WiFi signal strength.

What is a WiFi 6 router?

WiFi 6 is the next generation of WiFi. A WiFi 6 router has the latest technology to provide faster wireless speeds, more bandwidth and better connection across many devices.

WiFi 6 routers use new technology such as OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access) to handle more devices at once without slowing down. It can juggle data across channels more efficiently which results in a faster, smoother and more stable WiFi experience.

To enjoy WiFi 6 speeds, you need a compatible router like our Hub 4 or Hub 5 and devices that support WiFi 6 connections. WiFi 6 can take your home broadband to the next level, for ultrafast streaming and low latency gaming throughout your home.

How to reboot your WiFi router

Give your router a quick reboot if you’re suffering speed issues, patchy WiFi connection or lots of buffering. Switching it off and on again resets things and often fixes problems.

Locate the power button on your router, hold it down for 10 seconds until lights go off, then turn back on. Let it restart fully - this takes a few minutes. All the lights should flash and stabilise once it's ready to go. This should apply to most broadband routers. Rebooting clears glitches and gets your WiFi flowing smoothly again.

You can also reboot many routers through their web interface. Log in and look for the reboot option. Or if away, use the router control app to restart it remotely. Just don't switch off at the mains as this doesn't reset it properly.

How to connect WiFi extender to router

Boosting those weak WiFi spots is easy with a broadband extender. Just plug it into a socket halfway between your router and blackspot zone and pair them together using the WPS button. The extender copies your network details from the router to power up extended coverage.

Extenders are great for reaching those annoying dead zones your router can’t hit. Stream movies buffer-free upstairs or extend WiFi to your garden with an extender's help. But for full home coverage, upgrade to a mesh WiFi system. Extenders have the potential to slow speeds down and open security holes if not set up properly. Learn more about broadband extenders.

Virgin Media Hub

Our Virgin Media Hub is your personal WiFi powerhouse included with one of our broadband deals. This clever little router brings speedy connectivity to every device in your home. Our latest Hubs have intelligent WiFi that optimises wireless signals as you move around, keeping your devices connected in every corner. Learn more about mesh wifi.

The sleek designs of Hub 3, Hub 4 and Hub 5 hide powerful internal tech that can handle tons of gadgets streaming, gaming and streaming. The more speed your hub gets, the more your WiFi can do. Pair our WiFi Hub with ultrafast Gigabit broadband with download speeds of up to 1,130 Mbps for the ultimate experience. Seamlessly manage it all through the Virgin Media Connect app too. Our cutting-edge Hubs delivers next-gen WiFi to every room, unleashing the full potential of your broadband speeds. Check if you can get Virgin Media in your area with our helpful broadband postcode checker.

Related articles

Useful links