What is a home network?


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What is a home network?

A home Wi-Fi router with a cable about to be plugged into it.

What's coming up

A home network lets you use the internet at home, but even better, it lets you share that internet connection among several devices in your home.

In this activity, we'll refresh what the internet is, how a home internet connection works, and what you'll need to connect your devices to the internet in the comfort of your own home.

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The internet

The internet is a service that is a bit like your water or electricity. Except, instead of giving you water or power, it gives you information. Information from the internet is often called data.

To access the internet you need an internet-capable device. A desktop computer is the traditional way to use the internet, but you can also use a laptop, tablet, mobile phone, or even certain kinds of TVs.

A variety of devices that can be connected wirelessly to the home internet, including a tablet, a laptop, a smartphone and a smart TV.
A cable connecting a router (or modem) to the internet, and the router (or modem) itself sending out a wireless internet signal to the house creating the home network system.

The internet at home

An internet service comes into your house from the street via a cable from the local telephone exchange, much like your home telephone service does.

Inside your house, the internet cable connects to a special box called a router, which then shares the internet to your devices. The router can also be called a modem or gateway.

When you have many devices connected to the same router and sharing the internet, that's called a home network.

Your internet provider

Like your phone service, you need to choose an internet service provider (or ISP).

The ISP sets up your connection and manages your internet account, including billing. The ISP is often the same as your phone company, but there are other choices too.

Most ISPs will give you the router when you first sign up to an account. A technician might install it for you, or you might get a sheet of instructions to follow.

An illustration of a range of internet service providers in Australia, including Optus, Dodo, Foxtel Broadband, Telstra, i Primus and My republic.
A comparison of a wireless Wi-Fi connection and a cable connection for a device like a computer or smartphone to use the home internet.

Connecting to the internet

Once your router is set up, you can connect devices to it either via a cable, or via a wireless system called Wi-Fi.

A wired connection is useful if, say, your desktop computer is located near the router. The connection starts automatically, but you can't move the device away from its location.

Wi-Fi is more convenient as it's wireless, allowing you to use your internet devices anywhere, and without trailing cables around the house.

Let's check

Let's check some of the information you have just read about. Don't worry if you can't remember the answer, you can scroll up the page to look at the previous slides.

What is the name of the special box that internet comes from in your house?

Click on the correct card.

A Wifibox

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That's not quite right. Have another go!

A router

Click to flip

Correct! It is also sometimes referred to as a ‘modem' or ‘gateway'.


Click to flip

That's not quite right. Have another go!


This is the end of the What is a home network? activity. You've learned the basics of how the internet gets to your home, and that you can connect via a cable, or more commonly via a wireless system called Wi-Fi.

Next up, we'll take a closer look at What do I need for a home network?

A router, or modem, which is the special box that you use in your house to get the internet. You can connect a cable to the router or modem and then put that cable into your device, or you can use the internet wirelessly through your home Wi-Fi.