Is WLAN the same as Wi-Fi? We explain the differenceon May 16, 2024 at 09:20 Tech Advisor

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WLAN and Wi-Fi are now often used as synonyms in our everyday language. However, there are differences between the two terms, which can all too often cause confusion.

We explain briefly and concisely how the two terms differ and when you should use which term. This will make you better equipped to deal with the common terms in everyday life.

What is WLAN?

The term WLAN stands for “Wireless Local Area Network” and is an umbrella term for all wireless network connections. This means all possible transmission standards, i.e. categories and technologies for wireless data transmission in the field of telecommunications.

The term WLAN – particularly in markets like Germany, is more common than Wi-Fi, for example when we talk about setting up our WLAN at home or giving someone the WLAN password.

Therefore, you are never wrong when you say WLAN, but in certain cases, the term can seem imprecise when in this particular case Wi-Fi is meant.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi stands for ‘Wireless Fidelity’ and is the name for a very specific type of WLAN that complies with the IEEE 802.11 standard. This means that every Wi-Fi network is also a WLAN network, but not the other way round.

However, Wi-Fi is one of the most frequently used connections and is therefore not a blanket misnomer.

The term was established by the Wi Fi Alliance, an organisation in the USA that awards the trademark for Wi-Fi-certified products. If you have such a product, you can recognise it immediately by the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED seal.

The term Wi-Fi is also used in English-speaking markets, and the term ‘free Wi-Fi’ is also frequently used in shops and cafés.

More on the topic:

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Best mesh Wi-Fi systems

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Networking

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