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Holiday home broadband: How to set up Wi-Fi for second homes and Airbnbs

Do you own a holiday or second home and want broadband when you visit? Or do you own an Airbnb or villa and want to offer free Wi-Fi broadband to your guests?

Whatever the situation, there are a few things to consider when choosing broadband for a second home or holiday let. You’ll want to make sure you get the right service because a standard home broadband deal isn’t always the best fit.

This guide will show you how to choose the perfect broadband service for second homes and sucessfully set up internet in your holiday let.

Broadband for second homes: the key points

  • Standard home broadband deals are generally the best choice for holiday lets and second homes that are used throughout the year. 
  • No-contract broadband may be a good choice if the property is only used occasionally.
  • Mobile broadband can be a flexible and affordable option, provided there is a strong signal.
  • If your property hosts visitors, you should take additional steps to secure the Wi-Fi router.

Broadband options for second homes, holiday homes, and Airbnb

Here are some broadband package choices that should suit most kinds of second homes and holiday lets:

Cheapest way to get internet at a holiday home

A regular cheap broadband contract will be a fine option for many second and holiday homes, especially if you’re hosting visitors all year round. 

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  • Can be very cheap, with unlimited broadband packages starting from under £20 per month.
  • Fibre broadband can cope with multiple users and demanding activities, including streaming or gaming.
  • Most packages will include a free Wi-Fi router.
  • There’s a wide choice of providers and deals.
  • It’s available to the majority of premises using a BT phone line, Virgin Media cable, or fibre optic line.
  • You’ll need to sign up for at least a 12-month contract.
  • If you need to cancel early, it can be expensive.
  • The speeds may be poor in rural areas.

Temporary internet service for holiday homes: no-contract broadband 

While most fixed-line home broadband requires signing up for a long contract, there are some short-term (aka no-contract broadband or rolling monthly) deals. These are often a better choice for properties that aren’t occupied all year round. With these, you can get a similar choice of speeds as a regular broadband service, but without the long commitment.

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  • You still have a choice of speeds.
  • You can cancel at short notice without penalties.
  • It’s available to the majority of premises using a BT phone line, Virgin Media cable, or fibre optic line.
  • There’s a limited choice of service providers and deals.
  • Monthly and setup costs are higher than long-term contracts.
  • You’ll need to pay for the Wi-Fi router or buy your own.

Mobile broadband for holiday homes

If fixed-line broadband with a landline isn’t available or is unsuitable, then mobile broadband can be an alternative. It's more flexible in terms of cost and contracts than other types of broadband.

Many mobile broadband services are supplied with USB or Wi-Fi dongles. These are simple devices that aren’t intended to be used with lots of phones and computers. However, you can get a similar experience to a regular home broadband connection by purchasing a Wi-Fi router that supports mobile broadband SIM cards.

Home broadband packages from the likes of Three are also available. These are sometimes known as 'Home-Fi' deals.

Although you're relying on a mobile network signal, you'll receive a dedicated Wi-Fi device. These hubs have a greater reach than a mobile dongle. You'll also be able to connect the devices around the home. Unlike a standard broadband hub, you won't need a landline or access to a cable network. Three's Home Broadband is available on flexible, pay-as-you go packages.

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  • You can get flexible contracts, anything from pay-as-you-go up to long-term deals.
  • It doesn’t need a phone line.
  • Often portable.
  • It can be fast, especially with 5G.
  • Quick and easy to set up.
  • Some unlimited data deals are available.
  • Most deals have a data usage limit.
  • A strong network signal is crucial.
  • It can be unreliable.
  • May be expensive compared to home broadband.
  • Most packages don't include a Wi-Fi router.

What’s the best broadband for a second home or holiday home?

The best broadband for your holiday cottage or second home will depend on how frequently it's occupied.

Temporary broadband solutions for holiday homes

If you only visit occasionally, or stay for short periods, you’re best off settling for a no-contract home broadband deal or mobile broadband. 

No-contract broadband may still require a line installation, and you’ll need to allow two weeks for it to be set up. You should also remember that you’ll need to pay installation fees each time. But this will usually provide the best speeds and most reliable connectivity.

However, since it takes so long to set up and could wind up being costly, this only makes sense if you are staying for at least a month or two at a time. If you only ever visit at a particular time of year, no-contract broadband could be a smart choice.

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If your stays are short, you visit more than once or twice a year, or you'd rather not pay installation fees each time, then consider a mobile broadband deal instead.

Using mobile broadband successfully in a second home

You may have to change how you use the internet because some deals have a data cap. Unlimited data deals are now more readily available, but you should check this when you sign up. Even if you have unlimited data, you may also find that the connection is a little slower than you’re used to.

It’s also crucial to confirm signal strength in the area before buying. Ideally, you'll have at least 4G, but 5G speeds are also becoming more common. If you’re lucky, you could get a connection that’s as fast as many home broadband services. 

You can check on the network coverage for your holiday or second home's location using the mobile broadband provider's site. Here are some quick links:

Alternatively, you can get a better look at coverage in more detail on a site such as nperf.com.

Wi-Fi for holiday lets

If your holiday let is often booked up, a cheap home broadband deal on a contract of at least 12 months will offer the best value for money.

You can often get very fast speeds at a low cost, with free setup and free gifts. But it depends on what’s available in the area. Type your holiday home's address into the checker below to see what's on offer:

Broadband Genie deals checker

Depending on how frequently the property is used, it’s worth comparing the cost of long and short-term deals over a year. It could be cheaper to pay for broadband even when it’s not used than it is for a no-contract deal which you cancel at the end of each stay.

If you rent out your home when you're not there, you could account for the broadband in the rental fees. Deals are available for well under £1 per day, so this is a minor expense.

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Best Wi-Fi options for an Airbnb

The considerations for broadband in a holiday let or Airbnb property are much the same as choosing broadband for a second home.

If your property is let all year round, you should sign up for a long-term contract and take advantage of the lower running costs and up-front fees.

If it’s only hosting visitors at certain times of the year, short-term, or no-contract broadband which you can cancel at any time will be the smartest option.

Unlimited mobile broadband could also be good solution if you can’t, or don’t want to, get fixed-line broadband. Try to avoid packages with data limits. Your guests could rack up enormous bills!

Going for the cheapest option available isn't always the wisest move. Consider the maximum number of guests who are likely to be staying at any time and make sure you select a suitable speed.

Basic ADSL broadband with an average speed of 10Mb is okay for a couple of people, but more than that, and it could be painfully slow and lead to complaints. Fibre optic broadband isn’t much more expensive and is significantly quicker. It can definitely be worth paying out a little more to keep your guests happy.

  • What's ADSL broadband?

    ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’. It’s broadband technology that allows the transfer data across regular telephone lines. You can make calls at the same time as being connected to the internet.

    An ADSL line will, at minimum, allow for a broadband connection of up to 8Mb. These days, that’s pretty slow and won’t allow you to do much other than emailing or basic web searches.

    ADSL2+ is now available at nearly all exchanges across the UK with slightly faster data transfer rates of around 10-11Mb.

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Securing Wi-Fi routers for Airbnb and holiday lets 

As well as choosing the right deal, you will also need to think about Wi-Fi router security. For the safety of you and your guests, it’s important to make sure the broadband is protected against the possibility of strangers interfering with the router.

  • Hide the router
    Guests shouldn’t have physical access to the router. Prevent any risk of damage or mischief by locking it away. Just make sure it can still be switched off at the socket in case it needs to be reset.
  • Set up guest Wi-Fi
    You can use the guest Wi-Fi feature supported by many routers to create a separate internet connection just for visitors. With guest Wi-Fi, they can get online but won’t have access to the rest of your network. It’s particularly important to use this feature if you're letting out a room in your home and sharing your own broadband with visitors.
  • Change the admin password
    The router’s control panel is protected by a password. However, the default password can be the same for every router from that brand. Change this to a unique password to prevent unauthorised access to crucial settings.
  • Regularly check the router settings
    Get into the habit of checking the router’s configuration on a regular basis. That way, you'll know if anything's changed. If it helps, you could take screenshots when it’s initially set up, so you can refer to them later.

Expert Summary

Sorting internet for your second home or holiday let is as important as it is for your main home. If you have people in and out all year, or you visit regularly, we recommend getting a standard deal. It doesn’t have to be too expensive or reach top speeds. As long as it gets you online and is fast enough for the number of guests you expect.

However, if you think the property will be empty the majority of the time, mobile broadband may be your best option. You won’t get top speeds, and you may have to watch how much data you’re using, but it’ll give you basic access. In some areas, mobile broadband might be even faster than you expect. Short-term broadband is a possibility as well. This is only a good choice if the holiday home is only used very infrequently.

No matter what type of broadband you’re after, you can use our deals checker to see what’s available in the area. You’ll find the best deal there to suit your second home.

Meet the author:


Matt has been working with Broadband Genie since 2009. A lifelong tech enthusiast, he has 20 years of experience writing about technology for print and online.

Specialist subject: The technicalities of broadband

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