Cabling for Wireless Networks: Why It Matters

Is cabling necessary for wireless networks? And, if so, why would that be? After all, these are wireless, right?

If you are new to Network Cabling Phoenix, you may not realize that wireless networks use cables to make the initial connection. If you know that, you may not be aware of yet another important fact: Ethernet connections (wired connections) are actually faster than a wireless connection. In fact, the fastest wireless connection (802.11n, also known as “Wireless N” which runs at 300Mbps) is 3X slower than the fastest wired connection (Gigabit Ethernet which runs at 1000Mbps).

When you set up your wireless network, you may also want to connect one or more computers or other devices directly to the network through a wired connection to enjoy this faster speed of connection. This presents numerous advantages and can assist in creating a great internet and network connection for many applications.

Wireless G vs. Wireless N

Wireless G, or 802.11g, used to be the standard high speed wireless connection that connect computers and other devices wireless to your router (and then to the internet). Because it was the standard for so long, many devices manufactured today and over the past decade have been equipped with Wireless G network adapters (essentially an antenna and circuit board that allow your computer or other device to send and receive wireless signals to and from a router).

The problem with Wireless G being standard for so long, and thus being in so many existing devices, is the fact that it on runs at 54Mbps. That is about 20X slower than a Gigabit Ethernet connection and about 6X slower than a Wireless N connection.

To make matters worse, even computers and other equipment that are modern and designed properly with Wireless N network adapters may not be set with the Wireless N setting switched on. It gets worse, though: routers that are capable of Wireless N may have the signal that transmits at the N speed switched off by default also.

Thus, having these devices in your home or business does not necessarily guarantee that you will experience Wireless N speeds without some software tweaking. In the future, that won’t be an issue, but for now, that leaves many of us running at network connection speeds that are, count ‘em, 20 times slower than we could get with a wired connection.

Standard Ethernet vs. Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet runs at 1000Mbps. Since this is 3X faster than Wireless N speeds and 20X faster than Wireless G speeds, it is advisable that any computers or devices that require fast data transfer to and from the internet or other devices be set up with a Gigabit Ethernet connection. Keep in mind that not all devices have Gigabit Ethernet built in.

The advantage of a device whose specs say it is equipped with Gigabit Ethernet versus wireless N is that Gigabit Ethernet does not need to be switched on or “enabled” in order to function at 1000Mbps speeds. It will start working at those speeds as soon as it is connected. Remember that both the router and computer have to have Gigabit Ethernet built in, though, in order to achieve these speeds. If they both are, simply connect them and enjoy blazing fast network speeds.

Also watch out for the next generation of Ethernet, 10 GB Ethernet (also known as 10GbE, 10GE or 10GigE). This runs at 10,000 Mbps which is not 20 but 200 times faster than Wireless G!