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Is Ethernet Better Than Wi-Fi?

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In many situations, a wireless connection to a local area network or the internet is preferred to one which is hard wired. This could be because the device that is being used is a mobile one, like a tablet or a smartphone, for example. Furthermore, providing a Wi-Fi connection in a public place is often more convenient than asking people to plug their devices in. For instance, shops and hotels which provide internet for their customers will often choose to do so via their Wi-Fi coverage rather than Ethernet.

Nevertheless, Ethernet has some undisputed advantages over Wi-Fi which should not be overlooked. What are the benefits of wired Ethernet connections?

Speed of Connection

Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi. Even though the latest wireless standards – such as 802.11ac and 802.11n - have sped things up, Ethernet still surpasses them. In situations where a Cat6 data cabling system has been installed 10 GBs per second connections can be reasonably expected. Even the previous standard for Ethernet structured cabling installations, Cat5e, delivers speeds of up to 1 GB per second, much faster than Wi-Fi. Wireless connections may be fine for some general web browsing or sending a few emails, but multiple users connected to it slow it down. Ethernet keeps data transfer rates high.

Distance Covered

The amount of distance you can be away from a Wi-Fi source in a direct line of sight is no greater than 200 metres before the signal is lost. However, the truth is that many users experience drop outs at less than half of this distance. In addition, Wi-Fi that is installed in a building can suffer from the blocking effect that walls windows and furniture create. Repeater units can mitigate this effect, but never truly overcome it. On the other hand, a data cable which provides an Ethernet connection with no chance of a drop out can be run up to 100 metres in length and further, if needed. Indeed, much longer distances can be provided for if fibre optic data cables are also used. In reality, Ethernet cables provide a much better distance of coverage compared to Wi-Fi when the reliability of the signal is taken into account.

Quality of Connection

As mentioned, Wi-Fi standards have improved in recent years, but when a reliable transfer of data is required Ethernet still wins. Streaming high definition video or playing internet-enabled computer games often means maintaining a high-quality connection. When the network is being used for business purposes, the quality of the connections offered to users becomes even more crucial, so hard wiring a network still remains the preference in many Australian offices.