Sadly, we often hear the following two statements:
It can’t be the router settings because my Wi-Fi is working.
Here’s a photo of my working Wi-Fi connection, so my internet must be broken.
The root of the issue seems to be that people don’t understand the difference between Wi-Fi and internet access.
Here are three examples that could explain the difference to you.
Imagine your home is like a big library (which represents the internet). The librarian (your router) helps you find and borrow books (data). You and your family members can chat with the librarian using walkie-talkies (this is your Wi-Fi connection).
Now, even if the librarian’s walkie-talkie is working fine and you can talk to them (you have a Wi-Fi connection), the library might be closed or inaccessible (internet connection is down).
So, having a working walkie-talkie (Wi-Fi) doesn’t necessarily mean the library (internet) is open. The two are related, but different!
Imagine your Wi-Fi router is like a post office in your home. All your devices (like phones, laptops, and TVs) send and receive messages through this post office. Now, just because the post office is open (meaning your devices are connected to the router), it doesn’t necessarily mean it can send or receive mail to and from the outside world.
The Internet connection is like the trucks that come and go from the post office to other places. If there are no trucks coming in or going out (meaning no Internet connection), then your post office can’t actually send or receive any mail beyond your home. Your devices can still “talk” to each other within the home, like sending files or printing, but they can’t access anything from the wider world like websites or online games.
Having a Wi-Fi connection to a router is like being connected to the switchboard inside your house. You can talk to other devices in your home, like your smartphone talking to a smart TV. But that doesn’t mean the switchboard is connected to the outside world.
The router has another job: it needs to connect to the internet, which is like connecting your home switchboard to the big phone network outside. If that connection is missing or not working, you won’t be able to browse the web, watch online videos, or do anything else that needs the internet, even if you’re still connected to the router via Wi-Fi.
So, Wi-Fi connection to the router is just the first step. The router itself also needs to be connected to the internet for you to do most of the things you want to do online.