Internet vs. Wi-Fi: What’s the Difference?

Ethernet vs WiFi

“What’s the Wi-Fi here?”  

“This Wi-Fi is too slow”  

“We need better Wi-Fi”  

Sometimes we hear that internet and Wi-Fi are the same thing, or that someone doesn’t need internet service, they just want Wi-Fi. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they serve different purposes and have different functions. Folks just want their service to work, but it’s important to distinguish between the two to accurately diagnose any issues that may come up.  

The internet is a global communications system made up of thousands of inter-connected networks that allows users to access a wide range of online resources, like websites, email, games, video content, and more. While the global internet is not owned or operated by one organization, broadband service providers (BSPs) like DataVision typically own their own network. They buy and install the equipment and infrastructure that make it possible for folks to connect online.  

Think of internet service as the signal that is sent from a BSP’s central office to your home, either through traditional copper or cable lines or with faster, more reliable fiber optic strands like the ones DataVision uses. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is the wireless distribution of some of that internet signal through the air by a device known as a router. A router is physically plugged into your home network, usually through an Ethernet port in the wall, and then broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal throughout the location. Devices can then connect to that signal without needing any cords to get online to stream, video chat, play games, send emails, and more.  

Fun fact: The term “Wi-Fi” is actually not an abbreviation for a longer, more techy term. Around the time the technology was created, the term “Hi-Fi,” short for High Fidelity, was commonly used to describe the high-quality reproduction of sound or images. In the late 1990s, a group of major companies in the electronics industry formed the nonprofit Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, which is now known as the Wi-Fi Alliance, and they decided to call this new wireless technology Wi-Fi because it was a catchy name and sounded similar to Hi-Fi, which many people were already familiar with. So the name stuck, and we still use it today. 

Devices can also connect to the internet using an Ethernet cord, which provides a direct line right into your home network. Devices that tend to stay in one spot would be best fit for a wired connection if available, like home computers, gaming consoles, and smart TVs. While Wi-Fi technology and equipment continues to advance, a wired connection will always provide the best online experience as there is no possibility of interference that can occur on a Wi-Fi connection.  

If you ever experience any issues with your connection, remember that there are a variety of reasons why. There could be a disconnect between your router and the internet signal coming into your home, a problem with the internet infrastructure, or perhaps an adjustment needs to be made with the device itself.  

Tired of tinkering with your Wi-Fi network or trying to troubleshoot connectivity issues? DataVision offers a Managed Wi-Fi service that takes care of everything for you. A DataVision technician will install and set up new, advanced Wi-Fi equipment powerful enough to broadcast a strong signal throughout your home. And if any issues come up, our local team can troubleshoot and make adjustments remotely.

Learn more at or give us a call at 503.792.3611.