The next time you pull up your computer and try to check your email, but nothing is coming through, pay attention to what assumption jumps into your head at first. Do you think, “Oh, it’s this stupid internet service?” Or do you think, “There’s something wrong with my WiFi.”

Because here’s what you should know — those are two completely different things. Although people will often use the terms “WiFi” and “internet service” interchangeably, they aren’t interchangeable. And it’s important to understand the difference between WiFi and internet service so that you can properly diagnose and fix any problems that you have. Plus you’ll be able to set up your office much more efficiently when you understand the difference.

Now, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know there was a difference between WiFi and internet service. In today’s environment, when most people access the internet via WiFi, it’s easy to not recognize that there’s overlap between them. Plus most internet service providers will market them as such, or they won’t do a thorough job explaining the difference to their customers when they are setting up. It’s easy for this misconception to permeate.

Internet is a Service, WiFi is a Function

The shortest explanation is that WiFi is a function of your routers, and it is through WiFi that your device is able to access internet service. But you don’t subscribe to WiFi the same way you would subscribe to the internet. And even if your internet service goes out, the WiFi might still be working exactly the way it should. In other situations, your internet could be great, but your router has been turned off and isn’t emitting WiFi.

Think of It Like a Landline Phone

If it helps, you can think of it as similar to a landline telephone. When you use a landline telephone, you have to actually buy a phone with a cord that you then plug into a phone jack in the wall, which is connected