How come your blazing-fast internet works on your desktop, but your laptop or phone seems to take longer for pages to load? After running a speed test, you find that your desktop’s connection is much faster than your phone or laptop. The difference between the two examples is how the devices connect to the Internet.

Truth About Signal Strength

Wired connections are always going to be faster than wireless connections. While signals move faster than electrical currents, other factors come into play. One of these factors is due to the signal range. An ethernet cable can carry a signal up to 100 meters without any signal deterioration. WiFi signals get blasted everywhere. The signal can be interrupted by walls, microwaves, distance, or even other network signals. There are only so many frequencies that can be broadcasted on. Chances are, your signal is being broadcasted on the same frequencies as the people around you. This is especially true if you live in an apartment or condo where your neighbors are very close to you.

Packet Loss – Why It Matters

Both means have different ways of handling packet loss. This is when a chunk or packet of data does not reach its destination. This can happen when two devices try to transmit at the same time. After this collision, the packet needs to be resent. Ethernet connections avoid collisions by making sure that the path is clear before sending out the packet. A WiFi signal will issue a delay before sending out a packet. This will reduce the chance of collision.

However, this delay can lead to latency with the transmission. WiFi antennas are also half-duplex, which means they can only be sending or receiving but not both at the same time. Full-duplex is in the works but is still an experiment and has its own set of challenges. Ethernet has been full-duplex for some time because the can be one wire for sending and one wire for receiving.

As technology continues to develop and improve, there may be a time when wireless networks are as fast or faster than wired connections. Until then, make sure your computer is hooked directly into your router-modem for the best network performance.

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