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Thursday March 10, 2011 11:07 am

Wi-Fi reduces broadband speeds by 30 percent


Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Broadband, Wireless / WiFi


Wired broadband is nearly 30 percent faster than wireless broadband within the same household, an Internet research company has found.

UK-based research firm Epitiro surveyed 2,761 U.S. broadband consumers between November 2010 and February 2011. Forty-five percent used a wired connection to their broadband routers and 55 percent connected via Wi-Fi. The respondents were asked to embed a speed test application on their computers in order to measure download times.

Wired download speeds were 29.7 percent faster than Wi-Fi connections. The average actual speed was 7.4 Mbps for wired connections, compared to 5.2 Mbps for wireless ones. Furthermore, latency was 10-20 percent higher over Wi-Fi. Packet loss and jitter were also detected.

Why is Wi-Fi so much slower than older wired technology? According to Epitiro, wireless speeds are degraded because most wireless routers, by default, are set to the same channel, which causes "radio congestion." Signal strength is also hindered by physical objects like walls, doors, floors, furniture, even people. Other common radio-based devices, like microwave ovens and baby monitors, also hog your home's wireless spectrum.

With more consumers now using wireless connections than the technically superior wired connections, Epitiro concluded that consumers prioritized "quality of experience" over the "quality of service." Put another way, consumers still prefer the convenience of mobility over the extra minutes of download time saved. Furthermore, Web browsing times were roughly the same between types of connections.


PCMag mobile analyst Sascha Segan agreed. "We've always known that you lose some speed when you route a wired network over to Wi-Fi. But consumers generally don't care, because wireless speeds are still more than tolerable and the benefits of mobility, even within the home, are so huge."

Networking analyst Samara Lynn reminded us that download speeds depend more on what bandwidth you're getting from your ISP.

"Where wired versus wireless make a more significant difference is within a home network," she said. "If you are copying a large file from one machine to another and the machines are both wired to the same router, that file copy is going to be significantly faster than if both machines are wirelessly connected. Wireless speeds are nowhere near yet the 1 Gbps you get with wired Gigabit Ethernet."

This article, written by Sara Yin, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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