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Ethernet or WiFi? A common question when you have the luxury to connect internet wirelessly or using a wired connection.
WiFi is now the common mode of internet connection in most homes and offices. WiFi is free from cables. You can connect almost any device to the wireless internet. Another advantage is you can roam around freely using a wireless connection. Wireless connection technology is so advanced that you can transfer files in Gigabit speeds.
Ethernet connection like wireless connection is also capable of transferring data at high speeds. An advantage for a wired connection is low latency compared to the wireless connection and less worry about interference. The problem with a wired connection is the limitation in moving device because of limitation from cable length.
Ethernet speed vs WiFi speed
The latest Wireless standard 802.11 ac is capable of transferring data at 1 Gbps. Most new routers support 802.11 ac and are soon becoming the wireless standards in most devices. The previous standard 802.11 n supports speeds up to 300 Mbps.
In the wired connection, the commonly used CAT-5 cable supports a data transfer of 1 Gbps. The latest generation CAT-6 cable is capable of supporting a data transfer of 10 Gbps.
Both wired and wireless connections are capable of handling the high-speed internet. The bottleneck here is the internet connection performance. If you have a good high-speed connection from your ISP, Ethernet and WiFi are capable of equal performance.
Latency period between Ethernet and WiFi
The latency can be defined as the delay between the input being processed and the corresponding output in real time. The latency periods are very low that it may not be noticeable in most cases. But it plays an important role when it comes to online gaming, trading, and stock markets, VOIP etc.
An easy way to check the latency is pinging your local router using the command prompt. The router address is usually 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. Open command and execute the command.
ping 192.168.1.1 or ping 192.168.0.1
The result will display the time taken to communicate with the router in milliseconds.
Compare the results from Ethernet and WiFi. You will find the communication with the router is almost instant in Ethernet, while WiFi displays more time to contact the router. The more you move your wireless device away from the router, the more latency or more time is taken to contact router.
Interference problem in WiFi and Ethernet
Ethernet cable especially the ones belonging to the latest generation is designed to reduce interference or crosstalk that come from the elements which are used to make the cable.
Compared to Ethernet, interference in WiFi is much higher. There is interference from walls, metallic objects, and other physical boundaries. This can be fixed by using the external antenna. The external antenna needs to be placed in a location where it can avoid these physical interference and broadcast data.
The WiFi signals also deteriorate with distance. The solution is using wireless repeaters or extenders to boost signals and extend it to a much larger area.
Another problem with WiFi is interference when there are a lot of users in the network. The solution is to get a dual-band router which is capable of transmitting at frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Most users use a 2.4 GHz frequency. By switching to 5 GHz, it reduces the number of users using the frequency.
Conclusion: When you play online games, trading or use VOIP, Ethernet connection is recommended because of its low latency in real time. For other scenarios, choosing between Ethernet and WiFi is just a matter of convenience. If your computer is a desktop which cannot be moved around, wireless connection provides a stable connection. But for your laptops and other portable devices, WiFi is your only option as they don’t have an Ethernet connector. When it comes to speed, it depends mainly on your internet connection speed. With a high-speed connection, Ethernet and WiFi are capable of fast data transmission based on internet speed. Use a WiFi extender or repeater to boost signals. Broadcast WiFi signals in the dual band to reduce interference.