Wireless or Wired Internet: Which is Better for Your Home?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019/Categories: Home Internet

Some people think of WiFi and the Internet in their home as one and the same, but they actually provide separate functions. WiFi keeps our mobile devices wirelessly connected to the Internet, but a wired Internet connection can work in tandem with WiFi service to allow users to get the best performance from multiple devices that connect to the Internet through the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

Whether you have a fully integrated smart home or just a few mobile devices, TVs, and maybe a Google Home™ or Amazon Alexa™ smart speaker, or a home security system, Consolidated Communications (CCI) Internet and high-speed WiFi is the core of your home’s connectivity. 

That’s why it’s so important for you to understand the differences in connections for the Internet to keep your Internet of Things devices running as they should.

While WiFi may be able to satisfy a gamer’s “need for speed”, it’s important to understand when a wired Internet connection is the better choice for bandwidth-heavy applications like streaming video on your TV, playing multi-player games on your Xbox™, or using cloud-based apps on a desktop computer.

And if you’re powering a fully connected smart home with Internet-connected audio systems, lighting, shades, thermostats, and even smart appliances — not to mention home security systems, doorbells, and door locks that simply cannot fail — you should carefully consider a hard-wired Internet connection.

The speed and reliability of a wireless Internet connection still cannot match a wired Internet connection. If you need Internet coverage to control an entire smart home, plus connect multiple devices for the people in your house, you probably need at least some of those devices to work on a wired Internet connection.

However, it’s important to take a practical view of the synergy between WiFi and wired Internet connections. Hagai Ferner, CEO, and Founder of Access Networks, a firm that deploys enterprise-grade networks in homes, calls a wired Internet connection the foundation of WiFi. “Wireless networking is an extension of wired networking.”

With that in mind, there’s no need to hard-wire every device in your home to the network. It’s all about finding the balance between the convenience of WiFi and the speed of a wired Internet connection. 

Pros and Cons of a Wired Internet Connection

A solid, robust, wired Internet connection is the foundation of your home’s connectivity. Wired Internet connections rarely go down and aren’t subject to interference that can occur through concrete walls. That gives wired connections a big advantage over wireless.

But you can’t hardwire mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, or your Amazon Alexa™ AI assistant. Running ethernet or fiber to power smart appliances can be complicated and expensive. If you want to install a new smart washing machine or refrigerator without remodeling your home or cutting holes in your drywall, it makes more sense to connect to WiFi.

However, if you’re planning a major renovation and have designated locations for smart TVs, Internet-connected video game systems, and major appliances, you may want to consider paying extra to have those locations hard-wired for the Internet.

But in most cases, hard-wiring every computer, TV, or smart appliance in your home isn’t worth the cost or the hassle.

Pros and Cons of a Wireless Internet Connection

A wireless Internet connection gives you the flexibility to connect your tablet, smartphone, Smart TV, smart home appliances, and AI speakers to the Internet.

Even in cases where you could use a hard-wired line, such as with a TV or desktop computer, you might decide to connect wirelessly to eliminate ugly wires in your family room or home office.

Wireless networking is less expensive. You don’t have to run pricey infrastructure or cut open walls to hard-wire network lines.

However, your wireless Internet connection may be spotty under certain conditions. If you have an open floor plan, your WiFi connection will likely be strong across all rooms. But in houses with irregular floor plans and lots of hallways or turns, the WiFi signal may not travel as well between rooms.

Wireless also doesn’t travel through concrete, so if you need WiFi in your basement or garage, depending on your home’s construction, you may not get a signal from your router on the main floor.

Fortunately, CCI can also help with WiFi boosters to extend the range of your signal, even to the point of delivering WiFi to your yard for outdoor entertaining.

The biggest drawback to wireless Internet is the more devices you connect on your network, the slower your connection speeds. This is because WiFi allocates bandwidth between each of your devices.

For example, if you have 1 GB of bandwidth and 50 connected devices being used at once, each device would theoretically get 20 Mbps of bandwidth. However, a feature called Quality of Service (QoS), which is built into many routers actually manages your bandwidth, allows applications that need bandwidth to receive more.

Some routers will let you customize QoS so, for instance, you can tell the router to give streaming on the TV in your family room greater priority than your children’s tablets.

Even with QoS, there’s a limit to the number of devices you can use at one time, and that number will vary based on your CCI Internet package.  If you need any help with your CCI router, please call tech support at 844.YOUR.CCI (844.968.7224).

Why Are My Internet Speeds Not Up to Speed?

When you subscribe to a CCI Internet package, you’ll see various speeds mentioned. The more bandwidth you have, the more you can expect to pay, and the faster your Internet will be.

Advertised speeds are based on testing with a wired connection running only one device at a time. Once you go wireless, your Internet speed will vary and may be dependent upon the number of devices being used, device limitations and the ability of customer premise equipment (routers, switches, hubs, NIC cards, wireless networks, etc.) to pass appropriate speeds.

That’s why it’s important to get the right Internet package, with enough bandwidth to support your family’s needs. The more bandwidth you have available, the faster you can expect your Internet connection to be, even with more devices running on the network.

What Can You Do with Wireless Internet?

Fortunately, today’s high-speed Internet connections from CCI have options that allow you to connect several devices at once.

When you choose your Internet package, consider your needs now, but also in the future.

For instance, let’s say you’re a family with a toddler. Maybe your toddler has a tablet. You and your partner have smartphones and laptops, and then you have two TVs in your home, plus an Amazon Alexa™ device and a few smart lights.

That’s a lot. You’re already up to 11 devices.

As the kids get older, they are likely to each have smartphones, laptops to do their homework, and maybe a PlayStation™ or Xbox™. Maybe they are now adding smart speakers to their rooms to listen to music. Next, you decide to add an additional TV as the kids can’t agree on what to watch.

It’s very easy for today’s homes to have 20+ Internet-connected devices. And a full-fledged smart home environment could have 50+ devices using WiFi bandwidth.

It’s important to understand that all Internet packages allow you to upload and download files and stream your favorite shows. But the more devices you add to your home, the more bandwidth you need.

What Can You Do With 6 Mbps?

Designed for very light users to check e-mail and browse the web.  Users will also be able to stream in standard-definition (SD).

What Can You Do With 20 Mbps?

A 20 Mbps connection allows you to stream high-definition (HD) content and stream on more than one device at a time.

What Can You Do With 100 Mbps?

Connect multiple devices at once with up to 100 Mbps of bandwidth. Designed for homes that are into streaming video and live TV and multiplayer gaming on multiple devices.

You can quickly download your favorite shows and stream HD video and music on more than one device at a time.

What Can You Do With 250 Mbps?

Want an enhanced experience even when the whole family is using WiFi? An Internet package delivering 250 Mbps of bandwidth can accommodate many devices at once with lightning-fast download speeds.

Play video games online like a pro. Let each person in your family watch their favorite shows on different devices at the same time. For heavy Internet users – a family with teens, someone who works from home and relies on the Internet, or TV and movie fans who are constantly streaming HD or even 4K entertainment – this is the package for you.

What Can You Do with 1 Gig?

Designed for the ultimate, connected smart home, a package that delivers 1 Gig (1,000 Mbps) of bandwidth can accommodate all your WiFi needs with blazing fast Internet speeds. Handling multiple devices, including smart home appliances, thermostats, lighting, shades, and home security. If you have a fully connected smart home or hope to in the future, this is the speed for you.

Which Internet Package Is Right for You?

It takes some thought and planning to choose the best Internet package to meet your family’s needs now and in the future. When in doubt, spring for more bandwidth. After all, you’ve never heard anyone complain about their Internet running too fast, have you?!

Let Consolidated Communications help you pick the best Internet package to fit your family’s needs and your budget. Call or click today!

 

Google Home™, Amazon Alexa™, Playstation™ and Xbox™ are licensed trademarks of Google, Inc., Amazon, Inc., Sony Corporation and Microsoft Corporation, respectively, or their respective affiliates. 

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