Regardless of device (computer, smartphone, tablet, laptop, Smart TV, portable speaker, etc.) you’ve probably heard terms like “Internet”, “Ethernet”, “WiFi”, “Bluetooth”, and “Network”.
They do all have have one thing in common: they are all technologies for staying connected, whether it's through a wireless connection or a physical wired connection.
In this update from Lighthouse Technologies, our goal is to help explain what these terms mean.
Click above to see a full-size image
Internet – this usually is used to refer to the signal coming into your home or business through your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
ISP – Internet Service Provider A company providing a connection, from your location, to the Internet. In our area, this is usually provided by XFinity, AT&T, and CenturyLink, but can include satellite providers like HughesNet (and likely soon Starlink).
Network – The entirety of all of the things you have connected, as well as how they are connected, regardless of what technology is used to connect.
Modem/Router – while these are technically 2 different devices, most of the time they are in one box. Your modem connects to and manages the connection between your network and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your router manages how that connection is used, when it’s being split between all of the devices on your network.
Wifi – a signal that is broadcasted by your Router. Devices connect to a WiFi signal. They do this in order to connect to the router. Through the router, they connect to other devices on your network, and also to the Internet.
Ethernet – a physical cable made up of 8 copper wires that is used to connect wired devices (like a Smart TV or an Alexa speaker). Typically, Ethernet is used to ensure that you have the cleanest connection to your router.
Which is better – WiFi or Ethernet? Either can be great, and most of us prefer to connect via WiFi because we don’t like taking the time or having the mess of cables. However, for the highest reliability and least potential for interference, we recommend using Ethernet if it’s available – which is why we often wire new construction - with Ethernet - to every room in a home or business.
Bluetooth – this is a wireless signal that was invented after WiFi. It’s usually used for devices that are close to one another to communicate – like a smart speaker or smart watch connecting with a smart phone.
Not shown in the image – Cellular Signal
This is a signal that can come into a device like a cell phone (or a remotely located security camera that doesn’t have access to Wifi, Ethernet, or another kind of connection). It is a signal broadcasted by towers that are usually a few miles away from the device. Terms like 3G, 4G, and 5G are usually referring to cellular signal. A “cellular provider” like Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint, can be your ISP. In fact, a cellular provider often is your ISP when you’re away from a network or not connected to a network. The cellular signal can (and in most cases now does) allow your device to access the Internet.
We realize there’s a lot covered in this blog, which is why we’ve provided a simple image to go along with these explanations. Also, there are other connection technologies not mentioned in these definitions, because they’re less commonly used, and we want to keep things as simple as we can.
As always, we are here and happy to help with any questions you may have.
We would love to work on a custom solution perfect for you!