Suddenlink explains Internet, Wi-Fi, how the two are related, as well as how to distinguish them. Read on for more info!

Wi-Fi and the internet are the same thing . . . right?


We live in an unprecedented age of digital technology. More than 4 billion people (over half the earth’s population) access the internet on a daily basis1, 2.2 billion play online video games every day2, and almost 3 billion have social media accounts.3

Amazing facts about the internet

Here are a few more amazing facts about the internet:

  • The average person spends almost 10 hours a day online – more than we do sleeping
  • Over 5 billion Google searches are performed online every day
  • There are over 50 billion internet-connected devices in use worldwide
  • China leads the way in internet usage with over 650 million users
  • Wi-Fi is the most commonly used slang reference for the internet4

Read that last fact again. If you’re like most people, you commonly use the terms “Wi-Fi” and “internet” interchangeably. And that’s okay, because they are the same thing . . . right?

The truth about Wi-Fi and the internet.

Actually, Wi-Fi and the internet are two different things. They are related, but not the same. So how are they different?

Think of this way. The internet is the language, and Wi-Fi is the signal that sends this language to your laptop, desktop computer, smartphone and television. That’s putting it in very simple terms, so here’s an analogy that adds a little more perspective.

Let’s say you want to drive from San Francisco to L.A. to visit your sister. L.A. is that city full of great stuff and some other things that leave you scratching your head. Sounds a lot like the internet, doesn’t it? The Pacific Coast Highway that gets you from San Francisco to L.A. is your Wi-Fi network in this analogy. It’s a route from Point A (your location in San Francisco) to Point B (L.A.). Traffic might move quickly, and you’ll get to your destination in record time. Or, more likely, it will speed up and slow down, which is a lot like a Wi-Fi connection.5

Internet is the data (the language). Wi-Fi is a wireless network technology that sends this data via internet connections (the highway) through the air to wide area networks and on to non-wired computers. This wireless technology allows your iPhone or Android cell phones, tablets, and other wireless devices to communicate without direct ethernet cable, network cables, landlines or other physical connections.

Now that we’re beginning to understand the difference between Wi-Fi and the internet, let’s take a closer look at each.

Wi-Fi fun facts.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about Wi-Fi:

What does Wi-Fi stand for?

Actually . . . nothing. Although some people commonly say it refers to “wireless fidelity,” the term Wi-Fi was originally invented by a marketing team that wanted to brand the wireless network technology. Although it sounds “techy,” Wi-Fi is a name that caught on, and never went away. Today, you’ll see the commonly used moniker everywhere from internet service provider (ISP) websites to online gaming tutorials to television setup and internet access instructions.

Where was Wi-Fi invented?

Most experts say Hawaii. A computer networking system called “ALOHAnet” was the first wireless data network and the predecessor to Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth. Over 20 years later, AT&T and NCR Corporation developed WaveLAN which is much closer to the Wi-Fi networks, wireless area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs) we have today.

What type of signal does Wi-Fi produce?

Wi-Fi uses radio waves made up of electromagnetic radiation that includes gamma rays, x-ray, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, microwaves and radio waves.

How does Wi-Fi work?

In terms of internet service, radio signals are sent to a wireless router in your home on your local network. Once received, the router translates these signals into meaningful data that is forwarded through your wireless connection to your desktop computer, laptop computer, smartphone or other internet-capable device.

How far can a Wi-Fi signal travel?

In everyday home applications, Wi-Fi signals can comfortably travel about 100 feet or so, perfect for providing internet connections to internet devices within a house or some office spaces. Worth noting: the Swedish Space Agency transmitted a Wi-Fi signal over 310 kilometers (km) or 192 miles! Granted, this was with a high-powered Wi-Fi router that has a much more powerful access point than the one you have with your ISP, but it’s still pretty impressive.6

Additional facts about Wi-Fi:

  • Wireless internet first began in 1990 – Wi-Fi is only a few years from its 30th birthday
  • Wi-Fi is now the largest transmitter of global communications – over 71% of mobile communications are sent and received through Wi-Fi networks and mobile hotspots
  • Europe has a weaker Wi-Fi signal than the United States simply because the authorities in the U.S. permit higher-powered transmissions than Europe
  • There are over 10 billion Wi-Fi devices in use worldwide
  • A recent Red Roof survey found that travelers would rather have a good Wi-Fi extender signal than a free breakfast and virtually every other service or amenity at the hotel7

Interesting internet iterations.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about the internet:

When was the internet invented?

According to History.com: “ARPANET adopted TCP/IP on January 1, 1983, and from there researchers began to assemble the “network of networks” that became the modern Internet protocol. The online world then took on a more recognizable form in 1990, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.”

How many people use the internet?

There are over 4 billion internet users today – more than half of the world’s population!

Which country has the most internet users?

China with over 800 million internet users. India comes in a distant second with over 500 million internet users. One more fun fact – 98 percent of all Chinese internet users are on mobile devices and Wi-Fi hotspots.

Which nation has the highest percentage of internet users.

Iceland with (get this) 100 percent of its citizens using the internet on a daily basis.

Additional facts about internet usage:

  • Nearly 2 billion people are expected to make an online purchase in 2019
  • Over 80 percent of U.S. internet users will make an online purchase in 2019
  • More than 4 million blog posts are published on the internet every day
  • 500 million tweets are sent every day
  • Over 5 billion Google searches are made each day8

Wi-Fi and the internet: let’s bring it all together.

Difference between Wifi and the internet

Let’s take a look at how Wi-Fi and the internet complement each other and how they have an impact on your internet usage.

  • Wi-Fi and the internet are two separate things that work together. Think of the internet as a language and Wi-Fi as a method of sending and translating that language.
  • Having a Wi-Fi signal doesn’t always mean you have access to the internet. You need a modem, Wi-Fi router and an internet provider to make that happen.
  • A strong Wi-Fi signal doesn’t always equal faster internet service. You need more bandwidth to enhance internet speed. Remember, the more devices you have connected to the internet, the more bandwidth you need.
  • If your internet service goes out, check your Wi-Fi connection first. This is often the source of the problem and can save you headaches and an internet service visit.

Suddenlink: Your award-winning internet service provider.

You don’t have to understand everything about Wi-Fi networks and the internet. You just need to know one name: Suddenlink. As the award-winning internet service provider customers trust, you can enjoy internet access to high speed internet that allows you to check your email, stream your favorite video and audio files, compete in online gaming, and more. You’ll have the bandwidth capability and internet speed to do the things you love most.

Now that you understand how Wi-Fi and the internet work together, it’s time to connect with Suddenlink. Let us show you how!

1 https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

2 https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/the-global-games-market-will-generate-152-1-billion-in-2019-as-the-u-s-overtakes-china-as-the-biggest-market/

3 https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/

4 https://www.fing.com/news/21-incredibly-interesting-internet-facts

5 https://www.consolidated.com/blog/residential/artmid/7943/articleid/87/whats-the-difference-between-WiFi -and-the-internet

6 https://www.my-webspot.com/blog/wifi-facts-you-need-to-know/

7 https://airtame.com/blog/wifi-facts/

8 https://hostingfacts.com/internet-facts-stats/

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