Information Technology Services

Wired v. Wireless

Wired or Wireless? Which is faster? Is one better than the other?

We get lots of questions about the differences between the wired network and wireless. Connecting your laptop via Wi-Fi can be convenient and makes things much more portable; wired connections are faster, but not everything can plug into a wired network.

A wireless connection is actually shared with every device that is connected to an access point in a single location. That connection is stronger the closer you are to the access point and susceptible to interference from things like microwaves and other wireless network devices. Each access point is connected to a wired network connection.

Imagine that your wireless connection is one of many cars on the Mass Pike during rush hour and you need to share a single lane with everyone else using that wireless access point. To make matters worse is that the speed limit is divided up among every one using the access point; 65 MPH limit, 5 connections, you are only averaging 13 MPH. Now if you switch to a wired connection, you get a lane on the highway all to yourself and you could speed along at full 65 MPH limit.

As you can imagine, wired connections can be preferred for bandwidth-intensive activities such as video, networked video games, downloading large files, etc… Of course, wireless does allow us to move around. It’s a trade off, freedom of movement with slower speeds compared to being tied to a wire with limited mobility and faster speeds. Ultimately it’s your choice to pick the right solution for you at the right time.

For a list of networking FAQ's, visit our wireless page at: www.clarku.edu/offices/its/wireless

Clark ITS is committed to helping you. If you have any questions, need help or advice, please let us know.
helpdesk@clarku.edu | P: 508-793-7745
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