The terms ‘Wi-Fi’ and ‘Internet’ are often used interchangeably. Wi-Fi is often used synonymously with access to the Internet to refer to a home broadband Internet connection, or when traveling, understood to mean free Internet.
Knowing the difference between Wi-Fi and Internet connections can help with troubleshooting problems at home, purchasing the right equipment for your network, and understanding the risk of using a free Wi-Fi network.
The term ‘Wi-Fi’ is the name of wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. It is a common misnomer that the term is derived from ‘wireless fidelity’ whereas it is merely a trademarked phrase that means IEEE 802.11x. The term is thus used to merely indicate an alternative to network cables to connect the devices of a local area network (LAN). Preceding Wi-Fi connections, devices could only be connected through physical network cables between them, which is both inconvenient and immoveable. Thus, currently, Wi-Fi technology allows devices to connect to one another without the actual cables. Basically, a Wi-Fi network is a wireless local network.
A home Wi-Fi network is practically always hosted by a router, and is independent from the Internet. It is controllable and owners can change the name of the network, the password, manage the number of connected clients, allowing them to exchange data with one another or not. Additionally, even the Wi-Fi router or access point itself can be changed or turned on or off at any time.
Any devices on the network can share and back-up data, print and stream local media. If device users want to access Skype, Netflix, news, and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, a connection with the Internet is required.
A router such as a broadband modem is needed to connect a home Wi-Fi network to the Internet. The Wi-Fi signal of the local network also provides a connection to the Internet for any device connected to the network. Hence, Wi-Fi is one way of connecting to the Internet via a device, explaining why sometimes even if your Wi-Fi signal is at full strength, you still can’t access the Internet.