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What is the Difference Between WiFi and Internet?

Two women sitting on a couch, laughing while looking at a laptop screen. One of them has a cell phone in her right hand. They’re using their home WiFi connection to access the internet.

Ever wondered if there is a difference between internet and WiFi? Discover what distinguishes these everyday technologies from one another in our helpful blog.

Is Home Internet the Same as WiFi? Explaining Internet Terminology


WiFi was once a new, exciting technology. But these days, it’s so ubiquitous that people use it everywhere – and in some cases, they even use “WiFi” to refer to the internet in general. If you're someone who uses WiFi every day or if you were born after WiFi's widespread adoption, you might even think of WiFi and the internet as the same thing. So, are WiFi and internet the same? And, if not, what’s the difference between WiFi and internet?


Truth be told, there are a few big differences between home internet and WiFi. Let’s take a closer look.


Definitions: internet vs. WiFi


The internet and WiFi feel interchangeable because one is necessary for the other. Still, they’re very distinct concepts and technologies.


What is the internet?


In a nutshell, the internet is a communications network that spans the planet. Using infrastructure ranging from coaxial copper cables to satellites in orbit, the internet enables the transmission of digital information with and without wires. It connects computers and other devices together to enable the spread of digital information all over the world.


Think of the internet as the interconnected web of devices, databases, and infrastructure that websites, social media platforms, and other digital entertainment are all hosted on. It’s both a tool and a place.


What is WiFi?


WiFi is a wireless communication tech that enables end-user devices, such as smartphones and computers, to wirelessly connect to the internet. WiFi is a means to access the internet through radio waves.


As you can see, WiFi doesn’t function without the internet already being up and running. WiFi is a way for your device of choice to access the internet. It doesn’t provide content by itself, nor does it host any files or information.


How WiFi relates to the internet


Though WiFi and the internet aren’t the same things, they are intrinsically connected.


You see, internet service is now so important and integral to the lives of billions of people that wireless access to the global web is mandatory for jobs, recreation, and socialization. Simply put, you need to be able to get online!


WiFi as a technology enables easy connectivity. Without WiFi, the only way you could get onto the internet is through a wired connection; imagine being limited to surfing, streaming, or chatting with your friends just in front of a desktop computer, not via your smartphone on the go.


Can you have internet without WiFi?


Yes. The internet existed before WiFi (in fact, it was invented in 1983 for college campuses and military communications). If all wireless networking technology suddenly vanished from the Earth, the internet would still be around.


That said, the internet without WiFi would be much less accessible and less interesting! WiFi allows people to upload media on the go, plus access their favorite sites and social media apps while they are out and about. It’s safe to say that WiFi has enabled the internet to become the truly global technology it is today.


Does WiFi come with internet?


Technically, WiFi isn't possible without the internet. Devices could wirelessly communicate with each other, but without internet infrastructure like software languages, protocols, and so on, they wouldn't have much to say (or even know how to interact).


Whenever you see a product that’s “WiFi ready” or something similar, it means that it’s ready to connect to the internet via WiFi signals. If a coffee shop announces that it has WiFi access, it’s offering internet access through WiFi connectivity.


Is home internet the same as WiFi?


Not at all! As we discussed above, internet and WiFi aren’t the same things. But home internet networks can and often do use WiFi for more flexible connectivity.


For instance, say you and your family all want to use the same router for internet activities, like watching movies or chatting with friends. While you could all stick to laptops or desktops with ethernet cables physically wired into the router, WiFi makes simultaneous access much simpler.


Home WiFi networks use routers to broadcast WiFi signals to receiving devices in your house. So, if you have a home WiFi network, your home internet uses WiFi to bring internet connectivity to each person.


The future of the internet


The internet is already everywhere, but it’s likely to become more accessible and faster for everyone on the planet, especially as new forms of connectivity become commonplace.


In previous decades, internet connections like DSL and cable connections were the reliable options for home internet. But fiber internet – which transmits information using light pulses traveling along underground fiber optic cables – is much faster and resistant to weather-related outages. That’s why fiber internet is becoming so popular; it provides faster download speeds and better bandwidth so everyone in your home can stream, surf, and play games at the same time without lag or latency.


As time passes, high-speed fiber internet may become the default choice for home networks. There’s also no telling what unpredictable technologies might influence the evolution of the internet, too!


The future of WiFi


WiFi is also getting faster and more reliable. For instance, you might have heard of the new WiFi 6 bands or networks. These should allow wireless devices to download and upload information faster and with reduced spottiness or lag.


WiFi connections are already remarkably stable and quick. In the years to come, expect WiFi connectivity to be even better – it might even match hardline connections in terms of speed and quality at some point.


Internet is better through fiber


In the end, we all want top-notch internet and high-quality WiFi. The best way to get both? Switching to fiber internet from providers like Glo Fiber.


Fiber internet is fast, stable, and the best for a wide range of activities, like gaming, streaming, and working remotely. Thanks to expanding fiber networks around the country, fast fiber internet is available to more Americans than ever. Check out Glo Fiber’s internet plans or contact us online to learn more!