Over the past year, you’ve likely been made aware of any issues that exist with your internet speed. While many people have opted for the convenience and flexibility of wireless internet, Wi-Fi has real downsides when compared to a wired ethernet connection.
Even though you need to plan to ensure that you have access to wired ethernet everywhere in your home—a wired network extender can help with that—it can make a big difference.
Here are five reasons why wired ethernet is often the better choice:
Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi. Until recently, the best that you could hope for from a wireless connection was half the speed of a wired one. New standards for wireless internet have helped:
– 802.11ac offers maximum speeds up to 866.7 Mb/s
– 802.11n offered maximum speeds of 150 Mb/s
Still, the commonly used Cat5e ethernet cable boast speeds of 1Gb/s. The fastest option, a Cat6 cable, offers speeds of up to 10 Gb/s.
Even the latest standard, Wi-Fi 6, is only beginning to even things up. The theoretical maximum speed for Wi-Fi 6 is 9.6 Gb/s, but real-world testing for “single stream” use reaches 1.2 Gb/s. While this is a major improvement, it’s still not near the top for ethernet, and it assumes everything else is working perfectly.
The other component of network speed, as an end user understands it, is “latency.” Latency “refers to any of several kinds of delays typically incurred in the processing of network data.” In simple terms: high latency means slower speeds.
Most people think of bandwidth when they think of a network’s speed, but latency matters as well. The “throughput” (how much data moves through the network) will change over time, but higher latency will create bottlenecks that slow it down. All told, a network rated at 100 Mb/s can end up being as slow as one rated at 20 Mb/s if the latency is too high.
If you’re gaming, then this can be a big problem. While there will likely be other bottlenecks in your system, using a wired connection will remove at least one of them.
Along with the speed concerns around Wi-Fi, there are also reliability issues. One is interference. Radio waves and any number of other signals can cause issues with your network’s reliability. If you’re in the middle of an important video conference, you hardly have time to worry about interference breaking it up (especially from a source you weren’t anticipating).
4. Device overload
One of the chronic problems with wireless networks is that, for all their flexibility, they can become overwhelmed when too many devices are connected to them. You can avoid this by taking care not to, say, stream multiple shows to different rooms at the same time. Still, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice speed that you pay for because multiple people want to use the network simultaneously. After all, flexibility that you can’t actually use isn’t worth much.
A Wi-Fi connection has a specific range in the best of circumstances; however, your home or office probably doesn’t offer them. It likely has walls and other structural features that limit the range of your connection. You can use secondary routers and other devices to extend your network’s range, but if one of the winning features of Wi-Fi is its ease of use, then the need to install more network equipment is a serious knock against it.
If you need a device to be completely portable, then wireless internet may be the way you need to go; however, as outlined above, you cannot beat a wired internet connection in terms of speed and reliability. Here are a few cases where a wired connection could help you to avoid problems caused by Wi-Fi:
– Gaming — If you’re gaming and you’re concerned about latency, you’d likely be better off with a wired connection. This way, you can avoid lag and make sure that your inputs are registered in-game as quickly as possible when you’re playing online multiplayer.
– 4k streaming — If you’re regularly streaming lots of video content, or are using video conferencing software, a wired connection may suit you better. This is especially true if you have a 4k television or monitor, since 4k streams are very bandwidth-intensive.
– Big downloads — Anyone making very large downloads regularly could benefit from a wired connection. If you need speeds to be as fast as possible, so as not to monopolize your network if nothing else, there’s no substitute for the latest ethernet cable.
On the whole, most people will need a combination of wired and wireless internet, but it’s essential to remember and consider the many benefits of a wired connection as you plan and maintain your home network.