Despite being used constantly for over forty years, Ethernet is still the go-to choice for networks. We covered the main business benefits of wired over wireless networking a couple of weeks ago, but that wasn’t the whole story.
While increased speed, security and reliability are all compelling reasons why Ethernet is still popular, there is more to it than that. Especially if you run essential services on your network. The subject of network speed is very relevant here so at risk of repeating ourselves, we do need to discuss it.
Wi-Fi is faster than ever as we know. The introduction of 802.11ac allows for speeds of up to 886 Mbps across a network. That’s faster than ever before, but it isn’t as fast as Ethernet. It is also the maximum theoretical speed shared amongst all connected devices.
Ethernet on the other hand is capable of so much more. Use Cat 5e cable and you can get up to 1Gbps or use Cat 6 for up to 10Gbps. That is light years away from wireless
This speed differential comes into play when you offer web services to customers or utilise them as part of your business. High speeds, low latency, the ability to transfer high volumes of traffic and the added security of wired networks all come into play.
Part of the limitation of Wi-Fi is with radio. There is a good reason why radio frequencies are divided into channels and why they don’t overlap. Interference. Many devices use radio to communicate such as commercial radio, mobile phones, walkie talkies and a range of other everyday gadgets. If any overlap in the frequency they use, they interfere with each other causing packet loss.
Range is another issue with wireless that Ethernet can circumvent. While Wi-Fi repeaters can stretch their range further, they can only go so far. Once you have laid your cable of choice, it is shielded from that interference and has a much longer range than Wi-Fi, currently around 100 metres without being boosted.
Combine an Ethernet LAN with edge networking and carrier Ethernet and you have a secure, fast and low cost way of connecting geographically diverse offices with each other too.
The upshot of all this is that Wi-Fi is fine for working from home or for public areas of the office but it just isn’t good enough for productivity. While faster and more reliable than ever before, you certainly wouldn’t want to run essential apps over wireless or anything that has an SLA!