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Is Ethernet Cabling Still Better than WiFi?

As we become increasingly mobile in both our professional and personal lives, there’s no arguing that the convenience of WiFi connectivity is hard to top. Even in our own homes, many people establish small router-based networks and rely on wireless connectivity for our devices. Is it only about convenience and mobility at this point? A strong argument can be made that Ethernet cabling and the connection speeds provided by CAT5e cables and CAT6a cables still far outperforms WiFi connectivity. Let’s look at some ways that Ethernet cabling is still outperforming other methods of access.

Signal Quality

Wireless networks suffer from signal quality issues and interference due to just the sheer volume of devices vying for a channel and signal on the wireless adapter. Microwaves and other factors can also cause WiFi interference. Wifi signal strength issues will only grow as the Internet of Things (IoT) comes into its own and more and more devices compete for limited bandwidth on wireless routers.

Interference and signal strength becomes less of an issue with the right Ethernet cabling, and especially if your network is built on CAT6 or CAT6a cabling, as this generation of twisted pair copper cabling was designed specifically to address crosstalk and signal interference.

Data Speed

WiFi data speeds have become competitive and for mobile streaming and data access, current IEEE 802.11ac connection speeds maxing out at 866.7 Mbps are sufficient when out and about, but in an office or home setting with multiple devices streaming and accessing various high definition formats, WiFi still can’t hold a candle to the 1-10 Gbps speeds allowed by direct connections over Ethernet cables.

Network Expandability

While WiFi networks can be expanded with signal boosts and added routers to support more devices, the goal of expanding a WiFi network is to allow additional mobile devices in public areas. It’s not a terribly complicated setup and the expandability is limited by the types of devices to which you’re providing access. The irony of course being that the additional access points themselves will need to be connected to the network using Ethernet cables.

With Ethernet, installing new connections also allows you to provide power to new devices with Power Over Ethernet (PoE) extenders, which boost signals beyond the 100m cable standards of CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT6a cables. There are also other devices such as network extender kits and VDSL2 SFP modems that allow additional networks and connection types to come together to provide an instant expanded network over Ethernet cabled connections.

Device Adaptability

WiFi was made for mobility, and provides excellent connection quality for tablets, smartphones, and desktops with wireless modems built in. As far as the day-to-day general use of electronic devices goes, WiFi connectivity is the most convenient access method. However, for more complex networks with a range of device demands, Ethernet is the only way to go. Especially with the rise in PoE networks, Ethernet networks become useful in controlling a wider array of devices like LED lighting, access points, surveillance systems, VoIP phone systems, and VDSL and DSLAM installations. By allowing power and data delivery over a single installation, modern Ethernet networks capitalize on the versatility of CAT6 and CAT6a cabling to minimize costs and provide connectivity to even the most remote locations.

Focused on Connectivity

Until wireless charging truly takes off and becomes commercially widespread, and WiFi achieves true Ethernet speeds, networks built around Ethernet cables will remain superior to WiFi connections. At SANDirect, we understand the intrinsic challenges that come with building a network on Ethernet cables and balancing the need for speed and affordability against future proofing your installation. Our consultation team can assess your network needs and provide you with the equipment you need to build an effective and scalable network.

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