How Is Wi-Fi Different from LTE?

wifi vs lte

Over the years, the Internet has become growingly vital in our day to day activities, ranging from mundane tasks like playing online games, chatting with friends to more important ones, such as making an online payment, attending online seminars/webinars, and so on. Mobile broadband/LTE as well as Wi-Fi let you gain access to the internet and carry out a plethora of activities that require data connection. Due to the key role the Internet plays in our everyday lives and in Internet of Things (IoT) applications, it is pertinent to be familiar with the differences between these 2 commonly used connections on the Internet — Wi-Fi and LTE.

Background and Types

LTE, which was released in 2008, is technically designated as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) technology. It is designed to be used with mobile computing devices, like smartphones and tabs. LTE technology is currently offered on a select number of mobile phones that are 4G-enabled.

Wi-Fi technology, on the other hand, entered the market in 1999 with the launch of the 802.11b standard. It was intended for providing wireless networking functionality to mobile devices as well as computers. The Wi-Fi standards, unlike LTE technology, require a router for providing wireless network connectivity.

LTE technology has different release versions, like Release 12, the current version of the technology. The 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g & 802.11 n standards are the Wi-Fi protocols. The production of the LTE standards is credited to the collaborative efforts of electronics manufacturers as well as wireless service providers, such as Sony, Samsung, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

The Wi-Fi standards are designed to the specs that were established by an international organization, the Wi-Fi Alliance, comprising many of the same companies which are part of the 3GPP.


This is a wireless networking protocol, allowing devices to communicate without the use of internet cords. Wi-Fi represents a kind of wireless local area network (also called LAN) protocol that is based on the 802.11 IEEE network standard. This networking protocol is the most popular technique for communicating data within a fixed location, wirelessly.

Wi-Fi is often erroneously taken to stand for “wireless fidelity”. Also, it is occasionally spelled as “Wifi”, “wifi”, “WiFi” or “WIFI”, but none of these acronyms are approved, officially, by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi is equally made use of, synonymously, with the term “wireless”; however, wireless is much broader actually.

The primary requirement to use Wi-Fi is that your device has to be able to transmit the wireless signal, such as a router, smartphone or computer.

A router helps in transmitting an internet connection that is coming from outside the network, such as an Internet service provider (ISP), and it delivers the service to devices nearby, which is able to reach the wireless signal. Another method for using Wi-Fi is via a Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling your smartphone or PC to share its wireless or wired internet connection, just like the way a router works.

Wi-Fi generates wireless signal, which allows other devices to establish connection with the main transmitter for communication, just like it is done when transferring files or when carrying voice messages.


LTE is acronym for Long Term Evolution. A 4G wireless broadband standard, it’s the fastest wireless network currently available for smartphones and other similar mobile devices.

LTE has higher bandwidth, translating to greater connection speeds. It also offers better underlying technology for multimedia streaming, for voice calls (VoIP). LTE is better suited for use with heavier and bandwidth-hungry apps on smartphones and tabs.

To access LTE, all that is needed is a mobile device which supports the wireless network. You can know if your phone supports LTE or not in the specifications sheet of your device. If it does, you would see the term, “4G-LTE”, listed as one of its specs. Also, not every device that shows LTE among their specifications actually supports the network as the acronym is now, unfortunately, used as a marketing tool these days, which could be misleading.

Some manufacturers can’t live up to the expectations when offering the LTE feature. Thus, before you buy a smartphone or tab, make sure you go through reviews, peruse testers’ verdicts, and pay attention to the actual LTE performance of that mobile phone.

You should also opt for a service provider with solid coverage in your area of residence or work. It won’t of any use if you invest in LTE devices if your area lacks strong network coverage.

LTE is a 4G technology, and as of now, it is the fastest. The strength of this network can be attributed to many factors. One of these is that it makes use of radio waves, unlike WiMAX and 3G that use microwaves. It is this factor that makes it compatible with existing hardware. It is also what makes LTE networks to show greater penetration in remote areas and to also have better coverage span.

LTE partly employs fibre optic cables, improved codecs for encoding signals. It is enhanced for multimedia transfer as well as data communications. Now that you have got an idea on ways Wi-Fi is different from LTE, when next you come across these terms in the network section of your phone’s specs sheet, you can appreciate them better.


Posted by Deji

Deji is a freelance writer and Physics graduate from the University of Ibadan. Passionate and meticulous, he is a keen follower of developments around the world on a number of issues ranging from science, tech, history, politics, among others. Deji loves playing football and meeting people. Please, follow on Twitter and Facebook

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