WiFi vs. Internet: Why You Need to Know the Difference
April 1, 2021
Recently, people have begun using the terms WiFi and Internet almost interchangeably. This is because using a wireless connection at home has become so common that many users hardly imagine going online without one. But knowing the difference between WiFi and the Internet is important. It's just like understanding the difference between your modem and router. Understanding where one ends and the other starts will help you more effectively solve any errors or connectivity issues you are experiencing. In this post, we will clarify the role that the Internet and WiFi each play, how they work together, and how to troubleshoot problems with either.
The Internet, known as the wide-area network (WAN), connects computers and devices around the globe, and connects your household to the rest of the world. This is what a modem would be used for. Connecting your computer to your household’s Internet service is where WiFi would come in. WiFi is a wireless network that connects your devices to an Internet signal without the use of a direct network cable. This allows you to move your devices freely around your home while staying online. If your wireless device is slow or unable to connect to the Internet, it does not necessarily mean you are having a problem with your Internet connection. It could just be an issue with your WiFi. Here are some common WiFi problems and solutions.
Your Router Needs to be Rebooted
Like most devices such as your computer and cellphone, sometimes your router just needs to be powered off and back on. Occasionally, it may need an opportunity to restart its memory and reset tasks that may have stalled. Unplugging the power, waiting for 10 seconds, and plugging it back in has solved many WiFi router connectivity issues. If you are experiencing a slow connection or none at all, restarting your WiFi router should be the first thing you try. This would also be a good opportunity to check your Tachus modem, which can be done in a few easy steps.
Distance from the Router
The farther you are from your wireless router, the weaker your connection will be. If you are experiencing slow speeds, find out if they are slower in some rooms of your home than others. If they are, it is likely that your WiFi signal is having to pass through too much distance, too many walls, or too many objects to reach your device. Try moving as close to the router as you can. You should also keep your router in an open location. Keeping it in a cabinet will give your signal an unnecessary barrier to cross. Try moving your router to a central point in your home, or close to where you use your devices the most. If you find it difficult for everyone in your household to use their devices within 100 feet of the router, consider buying a WiFi extender or repeater to multiply and extend your signal strength. A representative from the company that either manufactures or sells your wireless router would be the best person to recommend one to you.
It is possible to have too many devices using your WiFi connection, especially in a larger household. Between smart TVs, videogames, cellphones, and computers, a single network sometimes does not have enough bandwidth to support every device. You can free up bandwidth by plugging one or more devices directly into the router with an Ethernet cable. For cellphones on unlimited data plans, you could consider disconnecting them from the WiFi and using data instead.
Interference from Home Appliances
Microwaves, TVs, console controllers, and other devices operating on a 2.45GHz WiFi frequency are almost the same frequency as your wireless network, which can cause the signals to interfere with each other. If you cannot put enough space between your router and these appliances, ask a representative from your Wi-Fi router’s manufacturer or retailer how to change your WiFi channel. There are plenty of sources online that can teach you as well. Less common causes of interference to consider include metal accessories and Bluetooth-connected devices. Fish tanks have also been known to impede WiFi connections.
You Have an Old Router
On average, routers function well for two to five years. Beyond that, you could experience frequent connection disruptions, slow speeds, and overheating. You can first check if overheating is the main issue. If your router can be moved somewhere cooler or with better airflow, it would be worth seeing if that improves performance. If not, it may be time for a new router. While Tachus does not sell WiFi routers, you can find an array of them online or at an electronics store near you.
Neighbors Using Your WiFi
One-third of Americans have admitted to attempting to use their neighbor’s WiFi. If you cannot figure out why your signal is weak, and you have tried all the above solutions, it is possible a neighbor is using your WiFi and some of your bandwidth. This is especially possible if you live in an apartment, condo, or multi-family dwelling. Changing your WiFi password will help. If you have an old or easy to guess password, you should consider changing it to a stronger one regardless. There are also ways you can check your WiFi network for suspicious or unknown devices.
Your Internet Connection
If none of the above problems or solutions are applicable to the issues you are experiencing, it may be time to evaluate your Internet connection itself. If you are noticing that your Internet connection slows down at certain times of the day, especially in the evening when other users in your neighborhood are coming home from work, it is possible that your Internet service provider is not able to accommodate everyone during peak usage hours. Doing a speed test while connected directly to your router with an Ethernet cable will let you know whether you are getting the speeds you are paying for. If you are getting no connection at all and none of the steps above work, you should call your Internet service provider to find out if there is an outage and when you can expect to get service again. If either of these scenarios happens to you often, it may be time to find a new Internet service provider.
While Tachus does not sell or service WiFi routers, we do provide lightning fast fiber Internet to many homes in the greater Houston area. Tachus is revolutionizing the way residential customers receive their Internet, by offering unlimited, enterprise-grade data-only services at a lifetime fixed rate, all paired with local customer service. With a network that has already passed 19,000 homes and serves thousands of customers, Tachus continues to rapidly expand its residential fiber network to other parts of the Houston area. If interested, check your address here to see if Tachus is in your area. If we're not yet in your neighborhood, learn how you can bring us into your community.