About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 31, 2011

Wireless or Wired for Your Home?

You live in a home as we all do, whether an apartment, condo, townhouse, single-family, duplex, etcetera. You also use a computer in your home.  OK, I know that last one isn’t true for everyone but if you are reading this I will make that assumption.  You may be thinking about upgrading your internet connection; either a more modern Wi-Fi router or hard-wired with multiple outlets around your home…which way should you go?

Cat5 CableOne thing to consider is that Wi-Fi requires you to set up one additional component for somewhere around $50; whereas, wired requires you to run Cat5 cable throughout your place with a significantly higher cost.  (Cat5 is twisted pair high signal cable. Think of COAX cable with the wider phone plugs on the ends or RJ-45.).  The cost and inconvenience could be a limiting factor.  If you are doing some rehabbing of your home or building a new home, the decision becomes easy.  Wire your home if at all possible.

But isn’t Wi-Fi any good?  Absolutely, Yes!  But Wi-Fi does have some limitations.

As Bill Testerman, of Silicon Logic, states regarding wireless, “Distance and the speed of your connection are inversely proportional.  Thus, for a given frequency band, higher speed always means lower distance.  You want to sit 50 feet from your access point?  Prepare to sacrifice performance.

Unfortunately he goes on to say, “The only workaround is high-power radio transmitters, which are limited by the FCC to fairly low values, due to potential interference and other issues.  With a wired connection, you don’t suffer nearly this significant a loss over distance.”  People in the know state that for a high-quality Cat5 or 6 cable you can get about 300 feet from the source with little to no loss of signal strength.

Basically, wired is solid, wireless has some limiting factors.

Simply stated, with Wi-Fi the further you are from the source, the greater your broadcast signal degrades.  Also, other factors interfere with your signal.  Construction materials, i.e., drywall, concrete, metal, etc. in your home can slow down the waves along with wireless phones, copper wires in your walls, running HVAC, etc.

After all that “bad” news I will say that for my internet use, wireless router is fine.  I can surf the net, work from home, or watch videos including Netflix and Hulu, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc. I like it and for $39.95 it was well worth the investment in the wireless router and a quick set up.

WiFi RouterI have wireless in my home and love it…best of all I can sit on my back porch to work, or watch movies and play online – not necessarily in that order.  Yes, some days the signal is a little weaker than others.  However, I have investigated and found that this is often due to my service provider, whom I won’t mention here since they have lots of lawyers and I have none.

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