WIFI isn’t the internet

So, you are reading this so that means you have internet connection.

And that is a good thing! God knows, you are paying enough for it. And when I say “it” I am of course talking about the mysterious service that you bought from a voice in South Africa that often does anything but what they promised it would do.

One of the seemingly more mysterious aspects of an internet connection seems to be the relationship between the wifi signal and actually being connected to the internet.

In short… there is no relationship… well not an exclusive one anyway.

By now I am betting your eyes have narrowed and your mouth is forming the words… “what the…” so let me explain before you lose faith altogether.

Metaphorically think of your modem as having a front and a back. From the front your modem can deliver the internet in two ways; via wire (not often used these days) and wifi,  signal that floods your house waiting for something to pick up the signal and sign in. Just like radio only less informative.

Now, on the back of the modem there is a wire that is plugged in a socket that connects you to the outside world. Just like water being pumped into your taps or electricity into your wall sockets, the internet is being pumped into your modem and the modem is pushing it out the from of the “internet” via wire or cable.

For the briefest of moments this works well and everyone is happy.

Then, as always, technology lets us down and it stops and when it comes to a wifi network this is when it can get confusing. It can lead to questions like; “my wifi signal is strong so why isn’t the internet working?”

Well the thing is, while the internet might have stopped coming into the back of your modem, the wifi network is still being pumped out the front.

When it really goes bad your wifi signal icon will display a very helpful “!”

However, the internet can sometimes go bad in such a way that, technically, you are still connected but getting email or a web page is a fools hope.

Confusingly, if you have an ipad or iPhone in the house they might still have an internet connection but this likely because they have a simm card installed and in times of trouble the device will move to that instead of wifi.

So what does all this mean?

The WIFI signal on your Mac only means it is talking to the modem and NOT the internet. If in doubt, attempt to browse the internet and if it fails or is slow there is almost a 100% possibility that the internet has stopped coming into your house. In these case, reboot the modem (pulling the power cable out of the back, counting to 30 and then plugging it back in)

If they fails, call your ISP.

Permanent link to this article: https://macservicesact.com.au/wifi-isnt-the-internet/


    • Katharina on February 16, 2021 at 10:09 AM
    • Reply

    Love the comparison to water or electricity. I’ve got it now!!!!!

    • Chris on February 16, 2021 at 7:19 PM
    • Reply

    Thank you for your masterful insights. I am not always fully up to speed with these things. Does the modem (for example) get too full of internet when you are away from home for any period of time and not using it. In which case will it spill out over the top and onto the floor? If so what kind of detergent is most adept at cleaning the carpet? I do believe my modem may have issues because I tried attaching one of those cable thingy’s and plugging the other end into my standby yogurt pot but I couldn’t hear a thing! What would you advise? (outside of euthenasia)

    • Liz on February 17, 2021 at 9:19 AM
    • Reply

    Excellent description Renny, explains our issue which drives me up the wall!
    Would having a booster modem help?
    Or, is it that when the internet is not coming into the house any sort of modem won’t help?

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