WiFi vs Internet (Are They the Same Thing)

In our daily lives most of us use the internet and use WiFi without giving it second thought. The internet has allowed the world to become a much smaller place than ever before. We can send emails, stream movies, download software, or post to social media all with the click of a mouse or a touch on a screen. Sometimes this just feels like magic and leaves you wondering about how the internet and Wi-Fi actually work. A very common question is about WiFi vs Internet. The terms Wi-Fi and internet are frequently thrown around almost interchangeably, but what do they have in common, and is WiFi the same as internet?

The bottom line is this: WiFI and internet are not the same thing. They can be used together or independent of each other. Internet does not require WiFi and WiFi does not require internet. WiFi can be used to share any kind of internet connection including fiber, cable, DSL, or even satellite.

WiFi vs Internet

What is WiFi

WiFi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non profit organization that tests and verifies products for compatibility, conformance, and performance. WiFi is a technology using the IEEE 802.11 network standard. The IEEE 802.11 standard defines a technology for creating local area networks without using wires. Wi-Fi can be used with any type of internet connection or no internet connection at all.

Wi-Fi has many uses without even being connected to the internet including sharing files, sharing printers, streaming media from network attached storage devices, and more. Of course WiFi is also a great way to share any type of internet connection with multiple devices without the need for wires. Whether the internet connection you are using is a cable, DSL, fiber optic, satellite, or even cellular based internet connection, you can use WiFi to share your internet connection with multiple devices completely wirelessly.

WiFi has had many versions released over the last 20 years. Originally the versions were referred to with letters such as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, etc. Recently the Wi-Fi alliance has changed their naming convention in an attempt to better identify the generation of the technology. We now refer to WiFi standards with names such as WiFi 4, WiFI 5, and WiFi 6. Each generation of Wi-Fi technology has brought forward improvements in either speed, range, or stability. Often times all of these atributes are improved with the release of a new WiFi standard. WiFi 6 is currently the latest Wi-Fi standard. If you want the best performance you will want to be sure that you devices all support WiFi 6. You will also want to use either a WiFi 6 enabled router or access point.

Wi-Fi Router

What is the Internet

The internet is a global network of computers connected together though the use of routers. The origins of the Internet date back to the development of packet switching technology. Research was first commissioned by the United States Department of Defense in the 1960s. The internet at is core is nothing more than a worldwide group of computer networks that are able to talk to each other using a common language.

The internet is a massive global infrastructure connecting virtually every part of the world. Networks on the internet range in size from tiny to giant. What makes the internet special is how it connects these networks together to form a global network. This is accomplished through the use of core routers and internet peering points.

In order to connect to the internet you need a way of connecting your computer, smartphone, or other device to this global infrastructure. This is where internet service providers (ISPs) come in to play. An internet service provider works by selling you a slice of their connection to other networks.

Without internet service providers the average consumer would never be able to afford to connect to the internet. The infrastructure costs of connecting directly to an internet peering point would be much too expensive for anyone except the largest of corporations. Imagine if to connect to the internet you had to run your own cable hundreds of miles to the nearest internet peering center. This would cost millions of dollars. You would then have to do all the maintenance on the line.

What internet service providers do is invest in the infrastructure and share the cost across a large customer base. When you pay $20 – $200 for your monthly internet bill you are paying for your slice of the pie. The monthly price you pay to connect to the internet is a bargain when you realize the scale of the infrastructure and all that is involved.

Internet Infrastructure

In many ways you could make the comparison to paying a toll to use a highway. Paying a toll of a dollar to use a highway can be annoying. It can feel like an unnecessary expense, many people feel the same about paying for internet. When you stop and think about the millions of dollars spent to build / maintain the highway, appreciate the smooth ride and lack of wear on your car, you realize that the dollar you payed is not so bad. The same can be said about the internet. The price you pay for your internet service vs the utility it provides you with makes internet service a great value.

The global nature of the internet makes it possible to access resources from all over the globe. The internet enables the easy sharing of data from virtually anywhere in the world.

Can You Have WiFi Without Internet

You can be connected to WiFi without being connected to the internet. A Wi-Fi network is a local area network. Local area networks do not have to be connected to the internet. There are many thing a local area network can be used for without an internet connection. Some of these include sharing files, sharing printers, and streaming media from network attached storage devices. Wi-Fi does not require internet to function and having WiFi does not necessarily mean having internet.

Learn More About Using WiFi Without Internet

Can You Have Internet Without WiFi

There are other methods of connecting devices to your home network and the internet. WiFi is simply a common technology for connecting local area networks without using wires. Other methods of connecting to local area networks can include ethernet, MoCA, Powerline networking, and even Bluetooth networking. Cellular 4G / 5G connections can also be used to connect directly to an internet service provider without the use of a local area network. Wi-Fi is not required to connect the internet. WiFi does however provide a convenient way of creating a local area network to share an internet connection with multiple devices wirelessly.

Learn More About Wi-Fi Alternatives

Internet Without WiFi

How is WiFi and Internet Related

WiFi is related to internet because WiFi is a common method of connecting to local area networks that are being used to share their internet connection. When you connect to a WiFi network that is connected to the internet, your device becomes connected to the internet.

The confusion is because many people try to use the terms WiFi and internet interchangeably. When public WiFi became a common thing, many business started advertising “free WiFi”. These networks were connected to an internet connection for customers to use. When this happened the term WiFi became synonymous with internet to most people. Wi-Fi does not technically refer to a connection to the internet, but rather a connection to a local area network that may or may not have access to the internet.

FAQ

Which is better internet or WiFi

WiFi and internet are two different things. One is not better than the other. The internet is a global infrastructure of connected networks. WiFi is a local area network technology that can be used for many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection.

Are WiFi and internet two different things

Yes, WiFi and internet are two different things. The internet is a global infrastructure of connected networks. WiFi is a local area network technology that can be used for many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection. WiFi and internet are not the same.

Do I need WiFi at home

No you do not need WiFi at home. There are other ways to connect to the internet. However, WiFi may be a very convenient thing to have at home. WiFi makes it easy to do many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection, all without the use of wires.

Do I need Wi-Fi if I have unlimited data

Yes, for most people their cellular data connection is not a suitable replacement for their home broadband internet connection. This is for a number of reasons including performance, reliability, and functionality. Unlimited data can however eliminate the need for public WiFi when on the go.

Is WiFi Internet

No, WiFi is not internet. The internet is a global infrastructure of connected networks. WiFi is a local area network technology that can be used for many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection. WiFi is not internet, but WiFi can be used to share a connection to the internet.

What is WiFi used for

WiFi is a local area network technology that can be used for many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection. WiFi is used for connecting devices to a local area network without the need for running wires. WiFi is not a type of internet connection, but can be used to share an internet connection.

what is the difference between wifi and high-speed internet

WiFi and internet are two very different things. The internet is a global infrastructure of connected networks. WiFi is a local area network technology that can be used for many different things including sharing files, printers, and even an internet connection.