What is the difference between Broadband and Wi-Fi?
Asking the question ‘what is the difference between Wi-Fi and Broadband’ is kind of comparing apples and oranges.
Don’t worry, hardly anybody can keep track of all these new abbreviations and terms. Let’s clear up the confusion.
What is Broadband?
The term broadband connection refers to the type of internet connection you get from your internet service provider.
It is shorthand for wide-bandwidth data transmission. It essentially just means that your internet connection doesn’t depend on a phone line.
When a connection is labeled ‘broadband,’ that also means that it operates at a high speed. In the United States, an internet connection has to have at least 25 Mbps download, and 3 Mbps upload speed. This was defined by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015.
Almost all internet connections nowadays qualify as broadband.
What is Wi-Fi?
‘Wi-Fi’ refers to the way you get the internet from your router to your devices.
With a Wi-Fi connection, the internet is being sent to your devices wirelessly from your router. This is in contrast to a LAN or Ethernet connection, which requires a cable.
What is the difference between Broadband and Wi-Fi?
Now that we’ve defined both terms, we can see that broadband is a type of internet connection you get from your provider and that Wi-Fi is a type of connection that gets the internet from the router to your device.
But there’s a lot more to be confused about. Let’s keep on explaining terms, solving mysteries, and clarifying confusion.
What does Wi-Fi stand for?
The term Wi-Fi, funnily enough, does not mean Wireless Fidelity, as most people think. It is an educated guess — Hi-Fi stands for high fidelity, so this should be the same.
‘Wi-Fi’ doesn’t actually stand for anything. It’s not an acronym at all. The term just denotes the wireless connection standard.
When the technology was first introduced, a marketing agency gave the inventors a list of 10 possible names. They just happened to go with Wi-Fi. You have to admit, it’s much catchier than “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence”, the real name for the marvel of technology.
But everybody says ‘Let me connect to the Wi Fi’
Since the dawn of the smartphone, it’s a common thing that people request access to ‘Wi-Fi.’ They usually do this so they don’t dip into their data plan.
When you connect to a Wi-Fi network on your phone, the device does say — Connected to Wi-Fi. However, this still does not mean that it is connected to the internet.
The device only connects to the local router via Wi-Fi, and the router provides the connection to the outside world.
How do you know a Wi-Fi network is secure?
Every time you connect to a wi-fi network in a public place, you run the risk of someone breaching your connection and letting bad actors access sensitive information, like passwords and payment credentials.
A common method hackers use is to open a public Wi-Fi hotspot with a similar name as a nearby restaurant. When an unsuspecting patron connects to the network, the hackers gain access to their device.
The best way to circumvent this is to ask the staff directly which network to connect to.
If you’re unsure about a network’s trustworthiness, it’s always best to err on the side of your data plan than on the side of your credit card information.
What’s Wireless Broadband?
We’ve spent the last several paragraphs explaining that Wi-Fi and Broadband are completely different terms. Now we’re talking about wireless broadband? This term is probably the culprit behind many people’s confusion.
Internet service providers can get the internet to your house or business in any number of ways. Usually, it is through a cable, be it a DSL cable or a fiber optic one.
However, Wireless Broadband uses something called a Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN).
That means your internet service provider does not have to lay any cables on your premises. They just install a simple router that connects to their WWAN.
From there, you can connect your devices to the modem or router just like you would to any service your ISP provides.
What’s Cellular Wireless Broadband?
Cellular Wireless Broadband is the type of internet your mobile provider sends to your phone.
Signals are transmitted between your device and a cell base station wirelessly, much like your regular phone reception.
Modern smart devices have a wireless modem built into them.
This is actually a good analogy to explain the difference between broadband and Wi-Fi.
When you turn on your Wi-Fi Hotspot, you are actually acting like a router for others that connect to your device.
So, your mobile network provider is sending you the signal, and your device is acting like a wireless router and passes the signal on to others.
The contemporary 5G standards finally make it possible to use cellular wireless as the primary home internet channel. The advancements from 4G LTE technology grant 5G a much longer range of efficiency while bypassing the need for elaborate cable network installations.
Should I get Wi-Fi or a wired ethernet solution for my home or business?
We’ve covered the difference between Wi-Fi and broadband, now let’s examine whether you should clutter your house with more cables or simply use a Wi-Fi connection to get internet to your devices.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be either/or.
Smartphones and laptops can connect to your home router via Wi-Fi. These portable devices benefit from the fact that Wi-Fi does not tether anything down. You will be free to watch cat videos in your bed, as well as on the toilet.
A wired ethernet connection to your router is much more secure, reliable and even achieves higher upload and download speeds. They are much less susceptible to interference.
If you have a desktop computer that you use for gaming or work and you need a reliable connection, an ethernet cable is the way to go.
A good mix of wired and Wi-Fi connections will make sure you have a sound connection where you need it while reducing congestion on the wireless network. The more devices hooked up to Wi-Fi — the poorer it performs.
We hope we’ve cleared up any confusion you may have had pertaining to the difference between Wi-Fi and broadband.
To reiterate — broadband is the type of internet your provider gets to your home or business. Wi-Fi is the way you get that internet to your devices.
Cables and wires are the bane of many households’ existence. Here’s to hoping that advancements in technology will soon rid us of the plague of bunched up cables being chewed through by our pets.