Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: Why You Should Use a Wired Connection
When setting up a network, there are two internet connection options: ethernet and Wi-Fi.
The jump from wired to wireless internet opened up a huge number of opportunities. With that being said, there are still several advantages that come with using a wired connection.
When looking at Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi, it is important to understand the advantages of each in relation to your needs.
For some of the main benefits of ethernet connections, keep reading.
Perhaps the most significant difference between a wired vs. wireless connection is the speed. This is a major advantage of using an ethernet cable.
Over the years, the quality and speed of Wi-Fi have increased but have never quite been able to keep up. Originally, Wi-Fi was designed for the 802.11g standard, meaning that the maximum speed (in theory) was 54 MB/s. Wi-Fi speeds are dependent on the connection between a router and a device.
The range of 802.11g is roughly 38m indoors and 140m outdoors, and the closer a device is, the better the signal. As a device moves further away, the signal, and therefore the speed, will decrease.
Because of this, the actual speed over a Wi-Fi connection is almost always slower than the maximum given speed. The latest standard (802.11ax) promises speeds of up to 12GB/s, but actually seeing this sort of speed in practice is less than likely.
With ethernet, the speed is dependent on the type of cable you use. A Cat5e cable can give speeds of 1GB/s. Cat6a cable, speeds of up to 10GB/s, and CAT8 cable bring you to up to 40GB/s. The main advantage here is that those speeds will be consistent.
Note that your actual speed will be limited by your actual internet plan, and you will not experience speeds above whatever your service provider promises. For local networks, however, ethernet speeds can really become noticeable.
Multiple devices on the same network, or a shared hard drive will be able to transfer data incredibly quickly over ethernet compared to Wi-Fi, so streaming media or sharing large files can become a lot more efficient.
The speeds given above are theoretical - what the technology would be capable of doing under the perfect conditions.
In a normal residential or commercial environment, however, there are many factors that could affect the quality of a connection.
Wi-Fi connections can experience interference due to environmental factors. Bad weather such as storms or heavy snow can affect hotspots and even cause the Wi-Fi in your home to go down completely.
Even in good conditions, Wi-Fi signals can be inconsistent. Placing your router in an ideal location in your home is the best way to help this, but it is still very difficult to match the reliability of ethernet.
Latency is a measure of the time it takes for data to be sent from one device to a destination and then return. Similar to connection speed, latency can be affected over Wi-Fi. This can be for several reasons:
- Device location
- Other devices using the same network
- Interference from other nearby networks
- Interference from other wireless devices
An ethernet connection is not affected by such factors, making it far more consistent.
Poor latency is most noticeable in gaming when split-second interactions can be affected by a poor connection. As Wi-Fi signals can weaken or even drop out entirely, gamers using an ethernet connection can expect a much more reliable and consistent connection.
When using an ethernet connection, the only way data across that connection can be accessed by another device is by it being physically attached to the same network. This is by far the most secure internet connection available.
If a Wi-Fi network is open, anyone within range can connect to it. Setting up a Wi-Fi network with a certain degree of security is normal, such as needing a password to gain access. However, it is still possible that hackers will gain access without you knowing.
There are encryption methods that can be used to protect data, with the most secure being WPA2-PSK. With an ethernet connection, this is not needed, as in most situations it is impossible for someone to connect to a physical network without someone being aware.
This is also a reason to be cautious while using public Wi-Fi networks. They are completely open, meaning there is very little security.
Wi-Fi networks are not the most complicated thing in the world to set up, but by comparison, ethernet is incredibly simple. You just plug one end of the ethernet cable into your device, and the other into the router, and you're ready to go.
Wi-Fi requires setting up a connection to the network and using a password. This is still fairly simple, but for the less tech-savvy among us, or older generations who are not familiar with wireless technology, it can sometimes be difficult to understand how Wi-Fi works.
This may even be more relevant when there are connectivity issues - with a wireless network, there could be any number of reasons for signal problems.
If you experience problems over an ethernet connection, however, the two most likely possibilities are that your internet provider is having issues that are out of your control, or your cable is faulty. Replace the faulty cable, and you should be good to go.
Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: Which Is Best For You?
There may be specific reasons why a Wi-Fi connection is more suitable for you. For example, in your home, if you use a number of devices without ethernet ports such as phones and tablets, a wireless network would be ideal.
Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi isn't always a straightforward choice, but if you are looking for a strong, reliable connection, and want to get the best speeds possible, an ethernet connection is a way to go.
SatMaximum is a leading distributor of low voltage products. With several types of network cable available in single units, or in bulk, we've got what you need to set up a network of any size.
For any questions on what we offer, or setting up a network, contact us here. We are always happy to help!