A data plan and a Wi-Fi network basically let you do the same thing: use the Internet wirelessly.
Cellular data service is available from your mobile carrier. The service covers large areas – as in miles and miles usually. Customers typically purchase a plan that allows them to download a specific amount of data each period (2 GB, 5 GB, etc.). Cellular data is great for simple Internet activities, such as checking email and Facebook because it tends to be rather slow.
Wi-Fi is an Internet signal that is location-based, meaning the signal is broadcast across smaller areas, such as your home, the airport, your favorite coffee shop, etc. And what Wi-Fi lacks in range, it makes up for in speed – it’s super fast! Wi-Fi is great for “data intensive” activities such as VoIP (think Skype), streaming video, downloading music, etc.
Many mobile devices have the ability to connect to one or more of these Internet signals. Devices with both options often let you choose your connection type. Wi-Fi is a great way to offset what can be costly cellular data plans because with Wi-Fi, there’s usually no limit on the amount of data you are “allowed” to consume. Plus, again, it’s faster!