The advent of the Internet many decades ago and its widespread popularity ever since has brought about a big change in the lives of the people in general. Perhaps, the next big change was brought about by the Wi-Fi technology. Quite simply, Wi-Fi means that you can access the Internet available through radio waves without using wires. When you go to a coffee shop or to the airport, Wi-Fi connectivity gives you ready access to the network without having to connect your laptop or cell phone using any wires.

Wi-Fi and hard wiring – A subtle comparison

The debate is still on as to whether you should use a Wi-Fi connection in your home and office or should you switch over to a hard wired network system. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Here, we give a brief look to the pros and cons of having either system in your home or office:

1. Wi-Fi is a shared spectrum

All said and done, despite its various distinct advantages, Wi-Fi still obeys the laws of Physics. If you have 1 Gigabit of bandwidth available at a certain frequency in a perfect, interference free environment, the bandwidth gets shared between the various devices that you put to use. If what you get on 1 device is 1 Gigabit, then on simultaneously using 2 devices, what you get is only 450 Mbps/device as there are some losses on account of collisions and overhead as well. As the number of devices increases, you get less and less per device. With 3 devices, you get 275 Mbps/device while with 4 devices, you get only 100 Mbps/device.

With a wired network, you are not limited by spectrum or interference but by the quality of your cables and the capacity of your switch. You get 2Gbps on 1, 2 or even more devices. Though you will eventually hit the limit of the backplane, that will only be after a huge lot of traffic.

2. Wi-Fi is insecure

Any encryption on your consumer-grade AP can be cracked. Further, if someone has the encryption key, anybody with the encryption key can see all the traffic that is moving wirelessly since most routers don’t separate the traffic.

If you have a wired network, only you and your connected clients can see your traffic, unless somebody is running an Man In The Middle attack.

3. Wi-Fi penetration is iffy

While 2.4 Ghz penetrates walls well, it is very overpopulated and limited in bandwidth. On the other hand, 5.8 Ghz offers more spectrum but does not penetrate walls quite as well. If you have a wired network, so long as the cable makes it to the client, you have a very good connection.

4. Consumer-grade gear

Network management over Wi-Fi for consumer-grade gear is nearly non-existent. Some routers from ASUS, Synology and Cisco etc. can do simple management though. In case of a wired network, even a moderately decent switch can do wonders for consumer-grade gear.

5. Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet (POE) (wired only) is simply irresistible once you start using it.

6. Maintenance

Consolidating all your connections into one place gives you the ability to patch. It also means that rather than daisy-chaining, you can take full advantage of a large switch. In summary, wired is a better option but more expensive. Look at all the factors and decide for yourself or better yet, contact us below:

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