Difference Between WiFi and Hotspot

The data subscription plan provided by the Internet Service Provider is not just the only option for accessing the internet today. There are many other ways that our smartphone provides to share and access the internet.

We can share our internet connection with nearby devices using wifi and bluetooth hotspots. Although wifi hotspot is a commonly used term, there are significant differences between wifi and hotspot.

WiFi vs Hotspot

The main difference between wifi and hotspot is that the wifi is a set of protocols to access and share the internet over a local area network, whereas the hotspot is a physical location where a central device provides internet access to multiple devices.

Wifi vs Hotspost

Wifi stands for wireless fidelity. It is a set of protocols to access the internet without the need for wires.

Its range is limited to a local area network (LAN).

A hotspot is a physical location that identifies a local area network. It creates many wireless access points for the users.

These points can then be accessed using the wifi or bluetooth of a network device.


Comparison Table Between WiFi and Hotspot (in Tabular Form)

Parameter Of ComparisonWi-FiHotspot
DefinitionIt stands for wireless fidelity. It is a wireless technology that allows access to the internet.A hotspot is a physical location where the internet can be accessed. A smartphone can also act as a hotspot.
TypeIt is a family of protocols.It is a physical location.
Provided ByProvided by the Internet Service Provider.Provided by corporations, and places such as hotels, libraries, etc.
SecurityIt is more secure.It is less secure.
ExpenseGenerally, a fee has to be paid to access the internet.Several corporations provide it for free.


What is WiFi?

Wifi stands for wireless fidelity. It is based on the IEEE 802 protocol family.

It provides the clients in a Local Area Network with internet access.

Almost all devices nowadays are equipped with wifi support. We can access wifi on our smartphones, laptops, tablets, and computers.

The wifi technology uses a 2.4 GHz Ultra-High Frequency radio band. Due to obstructions such as walls and doors, the range of wifi is affected.

We can set up a wifi hotspot by allowing our smartphone to share its internet. On a small scale, this includes connecting one or two devices to our phone with password protection.

Today, wifi provides data transfer speeds upto 1 Gbit/s. Since it is more vulnerable to being hacked, it is protected using the Wi-Fi Protected Access.

Wifi has an extra advantage over the wired Ethernet. It can be used in places where cables cannot be laid down.

Initially, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) was designed for protecting wifi networks. However, its vulnerability led to the design of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).

Also, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are an effective way to keep the data safe in a public wifi network.


What is Hotspot?

A hotspot is a physical location characterized by a network device that provides internet access to clients. A hotspot may be wireless or wired.

It uses wifi as the protocol, and routers as network devices to provide internet access to devices in a Wireless Local Area Network. However, wifi is not the only option.

Bluetooth and USB cable can also be used to share the internet connection. In this case, the device is said to tether.

There are two types of hotspots based on the traffic of clients. These are public hotspots and private hotspots.

Public hotspots are created using Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and routers. They are set up by hotels, libraries, and other organizations to provide services to the visitors.

A private hotspot is also called tethering. It is used to share the internet subscription of a smartphone with other nearby devices.

Tethering can be realized using bluetooth sharing or USB connection.

There are several security concerns associated with the hotspot. The wifi connection needs to be encrypted so that the hackers may not steal valuable data.

Also, the hotspot provider has entire access to the contents searched by the clients.

However, the popularity of hotspot access is quickly increasing among people. From 2012 to 2018, the hotspots across the world have increased from 5.2m to 10.5m.


Main Differences Between WiFi and Hotspot

Wifi and hotspot aren’t the same. Wifi is a wireless method of connection to internet service providers. Hotspot is the setup that provides internet access.

Wifi is mainly used to setup a hotspot, although there are other technologies also.

The main differences between the two are :

  1. Wifi stands for wireless fidelity and is a method of Local Area Network connection. On the other hand, a hotspot is a device or location that provides internet access to single or multiple clients on a Local Area Network.
  2. Wifi is a set of protocols, whereas the hotspot is a physical location.
  3. Wifi is provided by the Internet Service Provider, whereas hotspot is set up by different corporations.
  4. Wifi is more secure as the denial of access to suspicious clients is easy. On the other hand, a hotspot is less secure as anyone within the range can access it.
  5. Higher cost is associated with accessing wifi from an ISP, whereas public hotspots are generally free to use.
Difference Between WiFi and Hotspot



Wifi is the new suitor for the networking world. It has replaced the complex Ethernet connections with the simple wireless topology.

The United States alone has more than 50 million wifi networks. Also, almost every person must have used their smartphone as a hotspot at some point of time.

Dial-up connections have become blurred as initiating a telephone call for networking is a thing from the past. Wifi was introduced in the consumer market as early as 1997.

There are many organizations that provide internet access to visitors using the hotspots. Some government organizations also provide free internet access to the employees for free.

It is known that the highest number of internet users are teenagers and young children. Although there are benefits of handing internet and allied devices to children for their mental development, there are also some serious risks.

The inquisitive and naïve nature of children can make them a prey of the malicious people on the internet. In India alone, cyber crime has risen by 457% between 2011 to 2016.

It is the responsibility of parents to be aware and make their children aware of threats on the internet. A scarred heart in childhood can be fatal for the entire life.

Key Differences Between WiFi and Hotspot (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between WiFi and Hotspot


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8057096/
  2. https://www.albany.edu/~gc227838/ist523/How%20WiFi%20Works.pdf
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