Steve Smith explains which is faster, wired or wireless connections, and why.
Released: August 3, 2013
Today's homes have plenty of wired and wireless devices connected, and we use these devices, on the most part, without ever asking, which is faster. Today, I will explain to you which is faster, and why the cap is closing between the two different connection methods.
The wired network used to only support 10 megabits of connectivity, before the apparition of 100mbit, and finally, Gigabit speeds. This means that while older networks only supported the slower speeds, our current generation home networks, often experience greater speeds internally than those offered by our internet service providers. This was reliant on the advancements made in both the network cable design, and Ethernet hardware design.
The same holds true for wireless technology. Older wireless networks could have a connectivity speed of up to 11mbits which is significantly lower than the current 54 to 600mbits offered by Wireless N standards. What has happened is the technology has advanced far enough to speed up connectivity past the speed offered by most internet service providers. Now, the latest 802.11AC promises speeds of up to a Gigabit, and promising speeds of 500 megabits per second minimum which technically falls short of the Gigabit connection offered by wired RJ-45 networks.
What does this mean to you?
If you are interested in high speed connections like Google Fiber, and want to capitalize on the speed, taking as much as possible in, as fast as possible, wired is for you. If you want to transfer files from a computer to another computer, or NAS drive, wired is for you. If you want mobility and ease of use, while maintaining a viable means of communicating with others, and consuming the internet as you normally wireless is better. I just want to point out, that there is a time, where this paradigm will eventually shift, and wireless, not wired, will be better, but for now, wired wins.
Why is wired faster than wireless?
Wired networks using RJ-45 cables can take advantage of full-duplexing speeds in the network, which means data can travel in both directions at the same time. This reduces the possibility of lag, and prevents a buffering effect that would occur under half-duplexing. Wireless networks tend to use emulation of full-duplexing by using Time-division duplexing. This invokes the use of time-division multiplexing to separate outgoing and incoming signals, and emulates full-duplexing as a result. This does cause bandwidth to be lower, giving us slower speeds.
What would it take to make wireless faster than wired connections?
The first and most important issue to be solved with wireless, is interference, which has a lot to do with slower speeds. Dealing with interference will make wireless connections faster. Applying native full-duplexing instead of time-division multiplexing will, also, make the connections faster because the antennas tend to send or receive, not both. And finally, I would suggest better channel separation, because too many overlapping channels lead to interference in the first place, so we need to find a way to create many wireless networks, using many different channels, with as little overlap as possible in order to maintain signal integrity as well as speed.
Another fact, wired networks with wireless do run a little slower than just wired connections. It may be a good idea to think of separating our routers in order to make our devices respond faster.
Next week, I talk about Network Address Translation, and how a router knows which packet goes where, if anywhere, at all.
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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions
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