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WLAN vs WiFi: What’s the Difference?

Modern technology is filled with undecipherable jargon, all kinds of crazy acronyms, and “inside lingo” used by tech heads and geeks that folks on the outside of the tech bubble have a tough time understanding.

 Take WLAN, for example.

 You could probably ask 100 people on the street what does WLAN mean and maybe 15 of them could tell you. Most will look at you like you had a second head growing up of your shoulders, but if you asked them where the nearest free Wi-Fi was they could point you in the right direction 99% of the time. You can also learn how to test your wifi signal test.

 Understanding the Wi-Fi WLAN difference may not be super important in your day-to-day life, but there is a key distinction here. This is especially important if you’re looking to get your hands on WLAN or Wi-Fi repeaters or home Wi-Fi booster technology (including great options like this one found here –TVFix Caster review), though.

 And that’s why we put together this in-depth guide.

 Armed with the inside information below you’ll know the difference between Wi-Fi and WLAN technology. You’ll know why these terms are often used interchangeably with one another, and you’ll learn how to choose the right booster for your signal so that your wireless speeds are as fast as possible without cutting any corners when it comes to stability.

 Shall we dive right in?

 What is WLAN?

 When you’re talking about computers networked with one another (or any devices network with one another, really) in a technical sense you’re really talking about creating a Local Area Network (LAN).

 These Local Area Networks differ significantly from larger networks – like the online network in general, for example – and that they are localized. Before wireless protocols existed LANs were set up with a bunch of ethernet cables or dial-up modems connecting different devices to one another.

 But then wireless technology came along and changed absolutely everything.

 Utilizing radio waves (on the gigahertz frequency, as opposed to the frequencies used for AM and FM radio) scientists in the 1970s started to tinker with the idea of creating Wireless Local Area Networks.

 The technology definitely wasn’t perfected until the early 1990s, when companies like AT;T started to recognize just how transformative the internet could become. They invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the IEEE 802.11 protocol that would become “Wi-Fi” to most people – and they used Wi-Fi to build out WLAN connections.

 Is WiFi Technically a WLAN?

 Yes and no.

 There are a lot of similarities between Wi-Fi and WLAN setups (with Wi-Fi actually being a trademark of the WLAN Alliance) but also some key differences you’ll want to be aware of as well.

 To put it simply, the biggest Wi-Fi WLAN difference is the fact that Wi-Fi is the technology that can be used to create a WLAN in the first place. Other wireless protocols – like Bluetooth, for example – can also be used to create a WLAN as well.

 Remember that Wi-Fi is simply a specific radio signal protocol. Right now, Wi-Fi commonly uses the 802.11b protocol (though there are other versions of Wi-Fi being worked on and certainly more to come in the future). No matter how this radio protocol changes it’s going to fall under the Wi-Fi umbrella.

 A WLAN, on the other hand, can be made up of all different kinds of wireless transmissions.

 The WLAN is the term used to describe the network created by all of those different devices that are networking with one another wirelessly.

 For example, you could have a main internet router broadcasting over 802.11b to a laptop. That would be using the Wi-Fi protocol.

 But you could also have a Bluetooth device connected to that laptop as well as the router, which is also connected to a gaming console, which is also connected to a smart TV. All of those devices networked together with one another through that router access point will be a WLAN.

 Boosting Wi-Fi and WLAN Signals

 It’s also possible to take advantage of hardware boosters (like the ones we described above) to increase the range of a WLAN quite a bit.

 On average, Wi-Fi is going to extend out about 100 feet from the router itself. A WLAN, though, as a standard range of about 300 feet (sometimes extending even further) – and both of those signals can be boosted well beyond those standard ranges with a little bit of help and amplification.

 Whether or not you take advantage of WLAN or Wi-Fi repeaters or extenders is really up to you.

 If you live in a large house or have a big office and your stock router isn’t getting the job done when it comes time to distribute your signal hardware like this is a smart way to go. Wi-Fi and WLAN repeaters are especially useful at replicating the signal over and over again, making sure that the signal is boosted at even intervals to improve speed and stability.

 If, on the other hand, you live in a smaller apartment and your Wi-Fi or WLAN set up is blanketing the living space with high-speed internet a repeater or an extender isn’t all that useful. You’d end up spending a decent amount of money on quality hardware that just isn’t going to produce a measurable return on your investment.

 Of course, if you live in a small apartment or small home made from materials that block a lot of Wi-Fi signals (concrete is a big culprit) a repeater or extender might be just the thing to fix the issues.

 At the end of the day, there’s a lot of interchange between WLAN vs Wi-Fi.

 Both of these terms can be used to describe a wireless connection, with one being slightly more technical than the other (WLAN). At the end of the day, though all you really need to know about what is WLAN vs Wi-Fi is this – as long as you are connected to one of these wireless signals you’re going to be able to jump online!

September 8, 2020


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