Internet and WiFi do not mean the same thing. But we often hear them used interchangeably. When someone asks, “how do I connect to the internet?” or says, “the WiFi here is bad”, they are often making an incorrect reference to one of these terms. Knowing what the internet is and how your internet service provider connects you to it will help demystify the meaning of these common phrases.
What is the internet?
The internet is a huge network that connects computers all around the world. There are data centers, cable networks, towers, and computers all over the globe that makeup the wide area network called the internet.
How are you connected?
Internet service providers (ISP) are the average consumer’s gateway into the internet. ISPs provide consumers with the necessary infrastructure to connect to the internet (computers, data centers, routers, cables etc.). They have access to the larger network around the world. When you request a webpage in a browser your request goes to your ISP and is directed to the webpage’s address. The response is directed through your ISP back to your computer. So, as the name suggests, your ISP provides you with a connection to the wider network — the internet– as a service. The quality of that service is generally related to the resources and infrastructure of your internet service provider. The more well connected they are, the more bandwidth and similar benefits they can offer you in their service packages.
What is WiFi?
WiFi is a way of connecting a computer to you internet service without using cables and wires. WiFi means that your home router and your device are communicating over radio signals being transmitted back and forth. Your device is connected to the service provided by your ISP without cables but your home router is still connected to your ISP via a cable. When you plug your computer into your router using an ethernet cable, you are getting the same access to your ISP. However, ethernet is a wired connection rather than WiFi. It’s sometimes referred to as being “hardwired”. Wired connections are usually a better quality connection than WiFi because the radio waves that WiFi uses are more susceptible to interference.
What do you mean?
Now that you know the difference between WiFi and internet you can be more precise about your connection problems. If you’re too far from your home or work router, it might be correct to say, “the WiFi is poor from this location”. Issues with upload and download speeds for things like streaming movies or gaming could come from an insufficient internet service. There is also a chance that your ISP doesn’t have good infrastructure your neighborhood. In that case your internet service is at fault. Knowing the difference between WiFi and internet is a powerful tool. Learn more about these topics before talking with ISP about your connection. You might be able to solve the problem by yourself for free. But you’ll definitely be ready to get the best deal on any service.