May 27, 2022

What's the difference between wi-fi and internet?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the terms "wi-fi" and "internet". In fact, many people get confused because they assume that the two are synonymous - we can assure you they aren’t!

While the internet can be a technical concept and difficult to understand, especially for a layman, it is essential that we know it and how it differs from Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi is a type of wireless networking technology that allows devices such as internet-enabled mobile phones, servers, and routers to communicate with each other over short distances. It uses radio waves to transmit data from device to device and it's a means of accessing the internet.

However, the Internet is the network that allows computers to communicate with each other using a variety of protocols.

In this article, we'll explain the difference between Wi-fi and the internet, and why you should care about this distinction.

What is the Internet?

The internet is a network of computers interconnected on a global scale, where data is transferred from computer to computer using the standard internet protocol suite - TCP/IP

It was created in 1969 by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which later became part of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network or ARPA.

Today, the Internet has become indispensable for businesses, schools, governments, and individuals. It provides us with instant access to knowledge and entertainment and enables us to communicate and conduct business online.

How Does the Internet Work?

The internet is excellent, but how does it transmit data among computers when they're miles apart? It’s important to understand this when answering what’s the difference between Wi-Fi and Internet.

Data transfer from a computer to another computer locally is possible through system networking. It entails using data cables connecting one computer to another to transfer data. Usually, there's a server where all data is stored and from which individual computer gets the data they need.

The internet basically requires a server, a routing device, and a destination to transfer data electronically. Here's how it functions.

A data center, consisting of different servers, stores information from different computers, websites, and other internet platforms. When the server receives a prompt from your computer to access some information or a website, it transfers data in binary form to the computer.

The data travels through a cable, usually an optic fiber cable, till it reaches the ethernet cable you have connected to your computer or your router.

If you're using a mobile phone, the data travels through the optic fiber cable to an internet station or facility, usually a mast, before transmitting that data to your phone.

The internet is possible because of the unique IP addresses of phones, computers, and routers, provided by independent internet service providers.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide the infrastructure needed to make the internet possible. They own and operate the physical connections between their customers' homes and the wider internet. ISPs may offer services such as dial-up modems, cable modems, DSL, fiber optic lines, etc.

What is Wi-fi?

Wi-fi (Wireless Fidelity) is basically a wireless method of data transfer between computers in a local area network that doesn't require an internet connection to function. Unfortunately, we often confuse wi-fi with the internet because it is a common way of gaining internet access.

However, this wireless networking technology uses radio frequencies to transmit data in a definite range. This gives you wireless internet access. However, When you're out of a range, you're disconnected from the local network and can't have access to the information you seek in that network.

How Does Wi-fi Work?

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that lets you connect to the internet without plugging anything into your laptop or another device. In fact, it works so well that you don't even know you're connected to the internet!

To get started, all you need is a wireless network device such as your router, which basically sends out signals over the airwaves at a set frequency. Then, your wireless devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, or whatever else you want to connect to the internet pick up the radio waves at the same frequency and connect with your router.  

Your devices automatically get internet access to the wi fi network if authorized. You can also connect two smartphones through the Wi-Fi network and without the internet. This is done to be able to transfer data from one smartphone to the other without using a cable.

Relationship Between Wi-Fi and Internet

So what’s the difference between Wi-Fi and Internet? They’re interdependent, and both play a part in connecting you to the world wide web. The internet is a source of information that requires devices, such as your computer and smartphone, to access it.

While you can get data from servers through various connected cables. Wi-Fi helps eliminate the need for an ethernet cable to allow communication between the server and your PC. This makes it an easier way to access the internet if you give preference to mobility.

Difference Between the Internet and Wi-fi

Since we can access the internet through Wi-Fi, is Wi-Fi and internet the same thing? No, they're not. There are differences between the two entities, and they include:

Means of Communication

Both the internet and wi-fi are used to communicate between computers. However, the internet communicates by using the IP address of computers, while wi-fi communicates through radio waves and frequencies.


Wi-fi is a feature you can find on routers and gives access to the internet. It doesn't require any special facility for it to be used. On the other hand, the internet requires facilities such as data centers that house numerous servers, optical fiber that transfers the data stored in the servers, and internet service masts, or ethernet cable, to complete the data transfer to its destination.

Final Thought

Even though we use the terms interchangeably, It's important to know the Internet isn't the same as wi-fi, especially if you are setting up a new network.

If you just have Wi-Fi installed, you will not be able to connect to the internet; you also need an internet service provider to set up your internet.

ISPs like Rango are committed to bringing reliable internet to as many areas as possible. We are growing an internet company that people love, offering affordable and high-speed broadband everywhere.

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