How is a mobile network different from Wi-Fi?


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How is a mobile network different from Wi-Fi?

A grandfather and child enjoying using a mobile phone together

What's coming up?

While mobile data and Wi-Fi networks both let you connect to the internet, there are some important differences.

In this activity, you'll learn about these differences and how they can affect the way you use the internet.

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Cable-free internet

A Wi-Fi network and mobile data network both let you connect to the internet without needing to plug a cable into your device. We call this a wireless connection.

You can use the internet on your device while you are at home or out and about, without getting tangled up by wires.

An illustration of a laptop computer and modem connected by wire, with a red cross through the wire
An illustration of a home Wi-Fi's range

Limits of Wi-Fi

A home Wi-Fi connection needs a special box, called a router.

Home Wi-Fi also has a limited range, and only works inside your house and a little way into the garden.

Mobile coverage

Mobile data (or mobile internet) works almost everywhere. It is transmitted by the same towers used for mobile voice calls. If you live in a city, you can expect to have internet reception everywhere, almost all the time.

In some regional areas, mobile coverage can be patchy. But in most large towns, a mobile phone will have access to the internet all the time.

Mobile phone towers have many kilometres of range for their transmissions

Let's check ...

True or false? Click each card to find the answer.

A home Wi-Fi connection needs a special box called a router.

Click to flip

This is true. The home Wi-Fi box might also be called a modem.

Both mobile networks and Wi-Fi need cables.

Click to flip

This is false. Neither mobile networks nor Wi-Fi need cables.

Home Wi-Fi usually only works inside the home.

Click to flip

This is true. The range of home Wi-Fi is limited.

Well done!

This is the end of the How is a mobile network different from Wi-Fi? activity.

You've learned that home Wi-Fi is just for at home and has a limited range. Mobile data, on the other hand, is available all the time, when your phone has good reception.

Next up, the Connecting to a mobile network activity will help you learn how easy it is to get connected to the internet using a mobile phone.

Enjoying a cup of tea, a sunset, and catching up on tomorrow's weather forecast all at the same time