Over the years, the terms broadband and Wi-Fi have become so popular that they are almost used synonymously with “having access to the internet”. However, they both are quite different and distinctive.
You might already know that Wi-Fi is what gives you internet access, wirelessly. But it is the broadband that actually enables you to have this internet access.
Don’t worry, as we will explain the differences between broadband and Wi-Fi ahead, without any technical jargon. So, you can better understand the right, fastest, and most cost-effective internet connection for your devices.
What Is A Broadband Internet Connection?
What we call “the internet” is a network of interconnected devices, globally. Meaning, when you access the internet, you’re connecting to a large network that’s communicating (sending and receiving data) with each other.
Now, when you connect to this network, you get the power to make your queries and receive relevant information – in the form of images, videos, text, etc. – no matter where it is stored in the entire world!
Broadband is what enables you to connect to this network of interconnected devices.
How Broadband Connects You To The Internet?
You get a broadband connection by running a cable from your home to one of the cabinets on the street. These cabinets have been set up by your Internet Service Provider or ISP. The cables then build up a massive network of devices, consisting of routers, servers, computers, etc., which are always communicating with each other.
Now, you may get your data information directly from the source (or several sources) that originally created it. This implies that protocols must be placed to keep these sources online at all times.
You can also get this information via an offline copy that is close to your device in the network. This benefits you in the sense that the shorter the distance, the faster the information travels. These “offline copies” are also regularly updated, so the data you get is not too outdated.
Coming back to the topic at hand, broadband provides you with the first connection, which in-turn connects you to a massive network, where all these complex protocols are running, to give you, what we call, The Internet.
The broadband connects your home network to your regional ISP, which connects you to the national ISP, which connects to the international ISP. And so on it goes until it reaches the global level.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity, and if you understand broadband, understanding Wi-Fi would be a piece of cake.
See, once you have an internet connection (thanks to broadband) and you want to connect to it wirelessly, you will set up a Wi-Fi connection.
Wi-Fi technology uses wireless signals and radio frequencies to send and receive data between two devices, wirelessly. One of the devices can be your phone, laptop, computer, or anything else, while the other is your modem or internet router.
Your ISP will provide you with the modem that connects you to the internet. These days, the modem is actually a 2-in-1 technology; one provides the internet, and the second acts as a device to send wireless signals.
However, these wireless signals do depend on signal strength, which will weaken the further you are from the router and the amount of noise in the signal.
To cater for this, you may use a wired connection. But you may be wondering, how do you get internet if you get out of reach of your home Wi-Fi network?
How To Get Wireless Internet Wherever You Go?
Since you have to be within range of your router to receive Wi-Fi signals, you won’t be able to get internet on the road. A solution you can adopt is to subscribe to an internet package offered by your cellular network provider.
These packages do have data caps or a subscription duration such as daily or weekly. However, monthly packages are also available, but they do typically cost more than broadband. Additionally, the 4G or 5G internet available on cellular networks may also have higher latency – making them unsuitable for fast-paced gaming.
These internet services via cellular network are offered by mobile network operators (MNOs) – such as AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile in the US.
How Much The Internet Connections Cost?
The connection cost may vary depending on your ISP and your particular requirements such as whether you are a light user, a medium user, or a heavy internet user. But we can’t let you go without giving at least a rough estimate, now can we?
The average monthly cost of broadband in the US is $64. At this rate, you can get an internet speed of up to 100 Mbps.
100 Mbps speed is the gateway that lets you participate in video conferencing, streaming HD videos, and online gaming. It is also the recommended speed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for households.
For Wi-Fi, the cost is about $5-$15 – please note that this is the cost of renting the router from your ISP, and is typically included in the cost of the broadband connection ($64).
For cellular networks, the costs start at $50 and can go as much as $100 per month.
Summing Up The Differences Between Broadband and Wi-Fi
|Medium of Transfer||Physical cable||Radio waves from the modem||Radio waves from cell towers|
|Speed||Up to 10 Gbps||500 Mbps (typically)||1 Gbps (typically maximum)|
|Range||Depends on Cable Length.||Can cover a wider area, depending on the router and signal strength.||Depends on the cell tower location.|
|Portability||Not portable||Limited||Highly portable|
|Cost||Overall, less than Cellular.||Included in the cost of broadband.||Costs more at lesser speeds and connection quality.|
The primary difference between broadband and Wi-Fi is that broadband gives you an internet connection. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, helps in distributing this internet to your devices.
You will need a broadband connection first to be able to use, or set up, the Wi-Fi network. Of course, there are workarounds such as using cellular networks but they come with their own pros and cons.
So, what do you think about your current internet setup? Are you happy with your internet speeds? If not, there are ways to boost ‘em up; some of these don’t even need you to upgrade your internet package! Stay tuned if you want to learn more about how to boost your internet speeds with and without increased costs.