We interchange the words “Wi-Fi” and “Internet” together. And you might be surprised to know that these two words mean two different things.
Although you may not be able to get any social issues pointing to the abuse of this word, there are a few reasons why it is helpful to know the difference between Wi-Fi and the Internet and why it is important.
What is the Internet?
The Internet – a collaborative search between Bob Kahn and Wint Surf – is an abstract cloud made up of all the content that exists on the World Wide Web. We call this the Wide Area Network, or briefly WAN. Internet content includes social media, Google, your text messages, even selfies that you never expected.
You can connect to the Internet with various devices – smartphones, computers, routers, smartwatches, security cameras, etc., to access existing content as well as add new content to the Internet.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is a local area network (LAN). The term was doubled by the Wi-Fi Alliance for a reference to a wireless network that allows devices to access and connect to the larger Internet.
What is a Wi-Fi Alliance? Here’s a quick recap of history to make you faster: “In 1999, many visionary companies came together to form a global nonprofit, with the goal of driving the best user experience, regardless of brand, using new wireless networking technology. In 2000, the group adopted the term ‘Wi-Fi®’ as the proper name for its technical work and announced its official name: Wi-Fi Connection®. “
Fun fact: While commonly believed that Wi-Fi is used for wireless fidelity, this is actually incorrect. It’s just a fun word inspired by the word “fun.”
Wi-Fi vs Internet
While the Internet is a huge invisible entity, Wi-Fi is the vehicle that gets you there. The Internet is globally spread – it contains literally every device, file and person that is connected, hardware or wireless, in any way. Wi-Fi is more local – You can use a home Wi-Fi network or connect to a Wi-Fi network at hotels, restaurants, or other public places in your local area.
As such, you really only have control over Wi-Fi. By comparison, you are either connected to the Internet or you are not. You cannot change or manipulate the Internet. In other words, you can set passwords, access control, range and access access points for a Wi-Fi network. You can also upgrade your router for better connections. While you can upgrade your internet speed and type of connection, it is the very end of your options – and it is up to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to adjust accordingly.
Let’s create a metaphor to help us understand all these tech intricacies: Imagine that we are comparing web traffic from the point A to B in the physical world. The Internet is the world, home to all the goals we can choose from. Wi-Fi is transportation, how do we reach our destination from our original location.
Why does it matter
Sure, you can still exchange terms with each other in casual conversations, but there are circumstances under which it is helpful to know the difference between Wi-Fi and the Internet. For example, setting up your new network in a new home – you need to subscribe to the internet before you can set up your Wi-Fi network. It is also helpful to know when purchasing devices such as routers and modems.
Essentially, your ISP sets up the Internet, and your router sets up Wi-Fi.
It is also helpful to understand when determining the speed of your internet. If you need a faster connection, you will need to subscribe to your ISP’s relative bandwidth as well as a router that can handle high-speed networks.
When your internet is slow, you can automatically diagnose whether a Wi-Fi connection is slow, if it is a hardware Internet connection. Taking a few minutes to troubleshoot yourself can save you a lot of frustration and time on the phone with support.
Now, you can confidently write the answer to the question, “Is Wi-Fi and the Internet the same thing?”
Make the most of your home network
With a little extra knowledge and know-how, it’s easy to optimize your home network for better speed, improved security, and enhanced performance.