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Definition: Wi-Fi terminology


Wi-Fi has become so widely used to connect mobile devices to the Internet that Wi-Fi is sometimes thought to be the "only" access method there is. However, that notion is misleading because Wi-Fi is only one of three connection methods.
    Technology  Connection

     Wi-Fi       Wireless
     Cellular    Wireless
     Ethernet    Wired


Smartphones and Some Tablets
Smartphones all have Wi-Fi but they can also connect to the Internet via their cellular service (see carrier data plans). Tablets all have Wi-Fi, and about 10% of them have built-in cellular capability.

Tablets and Virtual Assistants
Wi-Fi is built into all tablets and stand-alone virtual assistants such as Alexa. However, some tablets and virtual assistants can connect to Ethernet via adapters.

Home Computers
Home users can connect their computers directly to their router via an Ethernet cable. Laptop computers come with both Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and either one can be used. Laptops can also be fitted with cellular connectivity when traveling (see cellular dongle). See Wi-Fi vs. cellular, Wi-Fi and Ethernet.