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Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: What Are the Main Differences?

Now we are living in a networking world. Using Ethernet or Wi-Fi can help us to get better wireless network experience. However, we often feel confused while choosing between Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Which one shall I choose? What factors shall be taken into consideration before selecting one of them? Both of the two connections have their own advantages and disadvantages. And these pros and cons are based on some different factors, like speed, security, reliability, latency, etc. Here Gigalight is going to discuss all of the factors in detail below.

Firstly, we need to make it clear that the definition of Ethernet and Wi-Fi before comparing them.

What Is Ethernet and What Is Wi-Fi?

Ethernet is a way of connecting computers together in a local area network or LAN. It has been the most widely used method of linking computers together in LANs since the 1990s. Ethernet is created by Xerox, and jointly developed into the one by Xerox, Intel and DEC. It adopts the CSMA/CD access control method and is conformed to IEEE802.3.

Wi-Fi is the technology that allows a PC, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet device to connect at high speed to the internet without the need of physical wired connection. Wi-Fi uses radio signals to transmit information between your Wi-Fi enabled devices, like your mobile phone, and the internet, allowing the device to receive information from the web in the same way that a radio or mobile phone receives sound.

What’s the Difference between Ethernet and Wi-Fi?

When discussing Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi, there are many differences that can be considered which form the deciding factors in choosing one over another. Some users prefer speed, some users prefer reliability, some users consider security, and some users always like the latest technology. Therefore, the following part will introduce the main differences between Ethernet and Wi-Fi that affect people’s choices.

1. Speed

Wi-Fi has become pretty fast over the years with standards such as 802.11ac and 802.11n being able to give us speeds of 866.7 Mb/s and 150 Mb/s, respectively. That is pretty fast and meets most of our needs, especially when it comes to using the internet.

What about the speed of an Ethernet cable? There are standards for Ethernet cables like cat-5, cat-5e, cat-6 cables etc. Theoretically, a wired Ethernet connection can offer up to 10 Gb/s if you have cat-6 cable. However, the most common cat-5e cable supports up to 1 Gb/s. Ethernet is faster, this is undoubtedly true. If you’re using multiple devices, such as a server where all your data is stored or for LAN gaming, you might consider switching to an Ethernet cable.

2. Reliability

Talking about reliability, Wi-Fi is less reliable of the two. Because a number of things can affect a wireless signal, from other wireless devices to physical objects and walls. This interference can cause dropped signals, higher latency and even lower speeds at times. While it doesn’t matter much when all you need to do is stream content over the internet but for any other purposes, You can minimize this by ensuring your router is placed in the optimum position in your home, but it’s unlikely that you will ever achieve the same levels of stable performance that you will get from Ethernet.

3. Security

When comparing Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi, security is another big factor that needs to be considered. The data on an Ethernet network can only be accessed by devices physically attached to the network. These devices, including the laptop at one end and router at the other, need firewalls to protect them, but there’s way the data itself can be intercepted on the network.

With Wi-Fi, the data is in the air. If you’re using an open network (such as in a coffee shop) then all the data you send and receive can be intercepted, including personal information and login details. That is to say, it is easier to hack into a Wi-Fi network than getting a physical access to the physical Ethernet cable.

Conclusion:

Of course there are other factors considering when you want to choose Ethernet or Wi-Fi, like latency, interference, and so on. Generally speaking, Ethernet offers the advantages of better speed, lower latency, and more reliable connections. Wi-Fi offers the advantage of convenience and being good enough for most uses. So, you can choose one of them according to your actual use.

About Gigalight:

Gigalight is a design innovator in global optical interconnect field. A series of optical interconnect products include: optical transceivers, passive optical components, active optical cables, GIGAC™ MTP/MPO cablings, cloud programmers & checkers, etc. Three applications are mainly covered: Data Center & Cloud Computing, MAN & Broadcast Video, and Wireless & 5G. Gigalight takes advantage of its exclusive design to provide clients with one-stop optical network devices and cost-effective products.

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