Wi-Fi technology is extremely popular and available just about everywhere. Whether you’re grabbing a cup of coffee, shopping for shoes, or enjoying a family pizza night, you’re likely to have a Wi-Fi hotspot available. You may hear people talking about “getting onto Wi-Fi” or not being able to “get onto Wi-Fi”. Most of the time, the issue is that they can’t get their laptop, smartphone, or other device connected to the Internet.
Is Wi-Fi the same as the Internet? No, it’s not. And with home networks getting more sophisticated all the time, with more and more connected devices, it’s helpful to have a clear understanding of the difference between the two.
What is the Internet?
The Internet is a massive global communications network. In fact, as its name suggests, it’s more than just one network—it’s a series of thousands of interconnected networks.
While no one person or organization owns the Internet itself, each Internet service provider (ISP) typically owns its own network. It buys and installs the specialized networking equipment that makes it possible for customers like you—in addition to businesses, universities, hospitals, and more—to connect to the Internet.
When you connect to your ISP’s network from your home or workplace, you have the ability to connect with other networks, companies, services, and individuals who are also connected to the Internet. For example, you can stream movies on Netflix by connecting via the Internet to computer servers that Netflix owns or read your email by connecting to one of Gmail’s servers.
When you purchase monthly Internet services for your home, your ISP gives you all the physical equipment you need to connect your own devices to the Internet. This includes a physical line, such as a fiber optic cable, that will connect your home to the ISP’s network. Inside your home, this physical line is connected to an electronic device that’s usually called a modem.