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Difference Between Wi-Fi and 3G

Wi-Fi vs 3G

“Wi-Fi” is a term used to describe a wireless local area network technology built on IEEE 802.11 standards. Wi-Fi network has a cornerstone known as Access Point which broadcasts wireless signals that Wi-Fi enabled computers can search and tune into. A third generation also known as 3G is also a wireless technology used mainly for connecting mobile devices to service provider base stations. Once connected to a base station, the mobile devices get access to the carrier’s wireless network and in turn to the Internet. Wi-Fi uses radio frequency technology and requires no physical wired connection between sender and receiver. 3G technology is built on wide area network technology, and the user can receive signals as long as he is in the network coverage area. In the case of Wi-Fi, the signals can be received as long as the user is located within the range of a router.

Wi-Fi is often used indoors because the signals reach only 300+ feet from the station to the access point location. 3G signals can reach stations that are located within a few miles of a base station which makes it perfect for outdoor usage. Wi-Fi delivers about 11-55 Mbps based on the actual IEEE standard used. Wi-Fi offers much faster speeds when compared to 3G whose bandwidth ranges from 40-70 kbps. The latest Wi-Fi technology using “N” standard is reported to deliver 600Mbps of maximum speed as compared to 3G delivering 2.05Mbps.

Wi-Fi can be installed by anyone who knows how to install a Wireless LAN since it uses unlicensed spectrum. 3G uses licensed spectrum and is completely controlled by the service provider company. 3G requires the purchase of the spectrum to install a wireless WAN and is always installed by public carriers. The cost of 3G use depends on the monthly plan that a user chooses from his service provider. Wi-Fi service is provided at many places such as cafés, hotels, malls, restaurants, and major streets. The user can avail the Wi-Fi facility by simply paying the hotspot owner for getting the access code to the network. Some places offer Wi-Fi access for free where the user can access the network without a password. Wi-Fi is considered to be less expensive when compared to 3G technology. For example, voice over Wi-Fi is comparatively less expensive to voice over GPRS. Because of the cost factors, the users may largely opt to use Wi-Fi over 3G. In order to retain the users, carrier companies like Verizon and SprintPCS have started offering Wi-Fi public access to compete with Wi-Fi technology.

Both Wi-Fi and 3G are advanced wireless communication technologies offering a wide range of features and advantages to individuals who need Internet connectivity at any given time.


1.Wi-Fi access is controlled by a Wi-Fi router located at a distance from an access point while 3G is completely controlled and provided by a service provider.

2. Wi-Fi offers speeds of about 11-55 Mbps while 3G delivers speeds about 40-70 kbps.

3. Wi-Fi signals can be received if the user is present within the range of the router situated at a hotspot. 3G signals can be received if the user is within the network coverage area.

4. Wi-Fi can be easily installed by anyone by setting up a wireless LAN on a computer which has a wireless adapter installed while 3G wireless WAN can only be installed by carrier companies.

5. The use of Wi-Fi technology is considered to be less expensive as compared to 3G technology.

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