Similarities and Differences Between 3G and Wifi (IEEE 802.11)

3G vs Wifi (IEEE 802.11) 3G and Wi-fi both refer to technologies that provide wireless access. However, they…

3G vs Wifi (IEEE 802.11)

3G and Wi-fi both refer to technologies that provide wireless access. However, they have different ranges of access and different operating frequencies. Wi-fi has a smaller access range – about 250 m. 3G, on the other hand has a far greater reach and is capable of an access range of many kilometers. Wi-fi is the wireless fidelity most commonly associated with personal use whereas 3G is mainly used by mobile operators for use in voice and broadband networks.

You can access the Internet with both Wi-fi and 3G. Wi-fi, though, operates at a much higher frequency so that data can be transferred at a much faster rate. With Wi-fi data can be transferred at the rate of 54 Mbits/s, but the highest rate that 3G can reach is 14 Mbits/s.

A look at Third Generation Networks known as 3G

3G stands for third generation because it is the third improvement in wireless technology and replaces the former generation known as 2G because it is much faster. Through this technology handsets (mobile phones, cell phones, etc) not only have the capability for making voice calls. They can also be used to access the Internet and for various mobile applications. The speed variations of 3G up to 200Kbits/s allow for voice and data transfer at the same time.

Some of the different 3G technologies that are currently being used include the following:

–          EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM evolution), which uses Time Division Multiple Access for multiplexing

–          HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), which uses 16QAM modulation techniques, and

–          WiMAX (Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access – 802.11)

A look at Wi-fi (IEEE – 802.11)

Wi-fi is the abbreviation of Wireless Fidelity and it is primarily used in LAN technology with a short range of access. This is why it is used mainly in homes and offices for Internet connectivity. Corporate internal networks and hotspots generally operate on unallocated frequency bands – usually 2.4GHz or 5 GHz. There are a few varieties of Wi-fi 802.11 that are designed for use in medical and industrial settings. These include 802.11 a, b, g and n. Those that are followed by the letters a, b and g have a much shorter access range – about 40 to 140 metres – and operate at a 2.4GHz frequency. 802.11n has the higher speed because it operates in 5GHz frequency and has a longer range of access.

How to set up wireless access at home

If you have a wireless router, you can easily set up wireless access in your home so that you can use your laptop to access the Internet in any part of the house. You do have to protect it with a password so that those nearby are unable to steal your signal. You should also use security features such as Secure Wireless, Encryption or MAC address filter.

To set up the router, plug it in to a power outlet and it should automatically assign an IP address to the router. Connect your laptop to the router and configure the settings along with the security features. Connect the router to your cable or Internet modem and scan the wireless network to find your router access.  Then you can connect to the Internet and browse as you please.


  1. Both Wi-fi and 3G are Internet technologies but they are used for different purposes.
  2. Wi-fi is primarily for personal use whereas 3G is for mobile operators.
  3. Wi-fi is much faster than 3G.
  4. Wi-fi has a shorter range of access than 3G.
  5. Wi-fi supports data only, but 3G can support both voice and data.
  6. They both support video and voice calls.


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