Wi-Fi and Wireless LAN: 4 Differences

What are the differences between Wi-Fi and wireless LAN? Just like any other average user, you too might mix up wireless LAN or wireless Local Area Network and Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity thinking that these two are the same.

Though the terms Wi-Fi and WLAN are used interchangeably, these are far from being the same thing.

While Wi-Fi is the trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, wireless LAN refers to the network of computers within a specific area. Likewise there are several differences between them both in basics as well as in their semantics.


  • Wi-Fi refers to wireless communication technology. It is directly related to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE 802.11 standards.
  • Wireless Local Area Network refers to the connection between several devices that eliminates the use of cables to create the network.
  • Though the wireless LAN devices use Wi-Fi brand products almost always, these are still not the same as Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi is not entirely a technical term and even though millions of people all over the world use Wi-Fi through internet connection hotspots every device may not have Wi-Fi Alliance certification.

The 4 Differences Between Wi-Fi and Wireless LAN

Differences Between Wi-Fi and Wireless LAN

1. Full Form

The wireless Local Area Networking is often referred to as WLAN.

On the other hand, the full form of Wi-Fi is Wireless Fidelity.

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2. Definition

A wireless Local Area Network refers to the arrangement that connects several devices by using wireless technology. It actually creates a local network.

Wi-Fi, on the other hand, refers to the wireless networking technology that is related to the IEEE 802.11 standards.

3. Range

The range of the wireless Local Area Network is usually higher than the Wi-Fi. Typically the range of a 2.4 GHz band WLAN is 100 meters or 300 feet.

On the other hand, the range of Wi-Fi for the same 2.4 GHz band will be much less, often ranging between 150 feet and 300 feet outdoors.

4. Devices Used

The devices used in a wireless Local Area Network are almost always Wi-Fi branded products.

On the other hand, the devices using the Wi-Fi technology need not be a WLAN branded product.

Which is More Useful – Wi-Fi or Wireless LAN?

Both Wi-Fi and Wireless Local Area Network are technologies or ways used to improve data communication or transfer which offers ease and convenience at the same time.

However, making a choice between the two may not be a very easy task if you do not know your needs in the first place along with the differences as mentioned above, as well as a few more facts and information as mentioned below.

Both are wireless technologies that improve communication but Wi-Fi typically uses radio signals that are sent to the nearby and paired devices as received from the router.

This signal is converted into data which you can see and use and this technology is used typically to connect different devices to the internet such as:

  • Computers
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets and others.
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Now, coming to the needs, you will need a Wi-Fi since there are a few specific reasons behind it such as:

  • Ability to access the internet from anywhere using any device that is paired and from anywhere that is within the signal range
  • Ability to connect multiple devices to the internet within the range with no additional work or hassles and
  • Freedom from the hassles of managing and maintaining cables.

With so many benefits offered, there is no doubt that Wi-Fi is one of the most commonly used techniques to create a wireless Local Area Network these days.

The Wi-Fi protocols are easily identified by their respective reference numbers that include:

  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n and more.

However, the latest and more commonly used designations are Wi-Fi 6 or Wireless G.

Typically, Wi-Fi networks are entirely Wireless Local Area Networks but Wi-Fi is certainly not the only available type of WLAN.

Therefore, it can be safely said that since one complements the other and therefore both Wi-Fi and wireless Local Area Network are quite useful today.


So, as it is clear from this article, Wi-Fi refers to a specific technology for networking locally with several devices wirelessly.

In comparison, WLAN refers to that particular network used in homes and offices that uses the Wi-Fi technology to work.

Now, you can clearly differentiate between the two.