Wi-Fi Transmits Slow Speed Then Ethernet

You went out to get the best router, set it up and disappointed? Well, that happens with many of us. So in this guide, i will explain what’s happening here. Imagine your networks both wireless and wired (or lan) as a city.

LAN – Local Area Network

In order to best get where you are going of course a single location and direction dedicated to this task is best. Therefore a LAN cable is like a highway with nothing in its way and a great speed to go as fast as you can, stopping only at the exact point needed to give you your data. A switch can be a junction at the highway to connect you to other highways.. so no slowdown there.

Wi-Fi – Wireless

Wireless is like navigating through the city itself. You may be able to get to more locations and much easier than trying to get off a highway that takes you 30 kilometres away from where you want and then backtracking but wireless has some issues, just like city streets wireless has many things that can slow it down.

– Red lights are like walls
– Cars are like other wireless networks operating near your own

Current wireless speeds are not so great without using commercial hardware (think a bus lane)
although there are now wireless speeds (currently this one is called a/c) which can rival your basic lan cables (called gigabit) there are many red lights and other cars which greatly diminish their speeds.

So your average home wireless setup with wireless from an ISP (internet service provider) may not be anywhere near as fast as the amount on the box. That is, unless you clear the cars and red lights and just have an empty city (or in this case unless nothing else is turned on and you are sitting at your wireless router itself)

The Typical Standard

Typical 802.11g Wireless has a theoretical maximum of 54Mbps. Typical wired 10/100 Ethernet has a theoretical maximum of 100 Mbps. So in theory wired is faster. However, these speeds are only on your local network. Most high-speed internet connections range from 1Mbps to 25 Mbps. Even on faster internet connections you’re only approaching 1/2 of the full throughput of your wireless system.

In practice, its not likely you will see much of a difference unless you are transferring very large amounts of data across your local network.

I typically make the wired/wireless decision based on the usage of the machine. If it is a desktop that will never move, wired is the way to go. If its a laptop that will be mobile, the convenience of wireless by far out weighs any difference in transmission speed.

Note that even if you follow all known tips and tweaks and boosts and apps in the world, while LAN usually gives you a sustained throughput of 8-12MB/s (for traffic INSIDE the LAN at 100mbit connections) and 20-50MB/s (for traffic INSIDE the LAN at 1000mbit connections), even on the newest 900mbs wifi on n/ac protocol at 5GHz, just one room away (with dense walls) your NOT sustained throughput will range from 1-5 MB/s in most excellent conditions, and lower in less favorable conditions.

For 2.4GHz and 150mbits wifi, it probably tops around 2-3MB/s, and these are just the peak speeds, dropping lower the whole time.

Factors that diminish speed and reliability are mostly out of your control (neighboring interference, walls and objects, antenna design, chipsets of the wifi access point in combination with the client, etc etc)


Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Wi-Fi Transmits Slow Speed Then Ethernet

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