Wired or Wireless?

It’s amazing how quickly technology continues to improve, and that certainly pertains to wireless connectivity. The term “Wi-Fi” was first coined many years ago. The 802.11 wireless protocol, which is what our routers, computers, and smart devices use to communicate with each other to connect to a wireless network, continues to evolve. Yet, as far as its come, vulnerabilities remain in performance.

Distance, interference with other commercial devices using the same bandwidth, or other obstructions can sometimes cause poor performance issues. Poor performance can be especially true nowadays when many of us are trying to stream our favorite movies and TV shows. These require a lot of bandwidth, and there are times when our wireless is either being interfered with or is just simply being obstructed. That interference could be a dropped signal or even lower speeds. Interference might be the layout of your home, an object blocking your signal or even your neighbor’s Wi-Fi network.

Should you go wireless or wired?

Speed: Though Wi-Fi technology continues to improve, wired networks have the advantage in speed. When you connect a device to an Ethernet cable—game system, Smart TV or computer—you are establishing a one-to-one connection. A direct line allows data to be delivered far more quickly than through a Wi-Fi signal carried by radio waves. If you’re gaming, downloading or streaming movies, hard-wired brings your content faster.

Security: In the same way speed has improved with Wi-Fi, so has the security protocol that encrypts and protects data. Even so, a wired connection is still more secure. It’s much harder to hack and intercept a signal traveling through a hard-wired cable than it is a signal over Wi-Fi.

Ease of use: Many devices support Ethernet connectivity, and setting up a connection is as simple as plugging it into a port on the device. Ethernet cables are relatively inexpensive and widely available.

Reliability: Wi-Fi is convenient and allows mobility, but hard-wired connections typically have fewer connection or speed issues. Wi-Fi connections are subject to dropped signals and interference from objects, while Ethernet offers a reliable connection with consistent speeds.

Let’s talk about wireless.

No doubt, Wi-Fi is speedy, convenient, and essential when you’ve got mobile devices. There are times when you just can’t use an Ethernet connection. Maybe it’s a tough location, or the landlord won’t let you run the cables where you want. Another application might be if you are using a device that needs to be moved around. Then Wi-Fi is the right choice.

It comes down to this. Wi-Fi should be fine in most cases. Let’s face it; you are never going to hard-wire your cell phone. On the other hand, if your desktop PC sits in one place, or if you are a gamer and require reliability, you might want the speed, and security that Ethernet offers. Best Advice: Know what you are going to use the connection for before you decide.

- Lonny Dockendorf, The Broadband Guy