Why is wireless Internet speed much less than wired


M

Mike Vandeman

Hi,

I have a little wireless/wired Ethernet network in my home/office with three
PC's, an Xbox 360 and a wireless network printer. I like to use the Internet
speed test at www.whatismyip.com to benchmark my Internet speed. The server
in San Francisco records the best results, upto 25 mbps download and about
500 kbps upload. The San Francisco download Internet speed results appear to
be right at the top range of the theoretical signaling rate of my Internet
cable modem speed.

I noticed that the download speeds on wireless are only a fraction of the
wired Internet speeds. In both cases the highest speeds are only a fraction
of the theoretical speeds, 54 mbps for 11g wireless and 100 mbps for wired
Ethernet. Also the LAN wireless speed is slower than LAN wired Ethernet
speeds.

Why is this so? Is there a larger hardware/software overhead for wireless
networking?

What are the implications for Gigabit Ethernet or for 11n wireless?

Thanks for the enlightenment.

m.
 
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S

Shenan Stanley

Mike said:
I have a little wireless/wired Ethernet network in my home/office
with three PC's, an Xbox 360 and a wireless network printer. I like
to use the Internet speed test at www.whatismyip.com to benchmark
my Internet speed. The server in San Francisco records the best
results, upto 25 mbps download and about 500 kbps upload. The San
Francisco download Internet speed results appear to be right at the
top range of the theoretical signaling rate of my Internet cable
modem speed.
I noticed that the download speeds on wireless are only a fraction
of the wired Internet speeds. In both cases the highest speeds are
only a fraction of the theoretical speeds, 54 mbps for 11g wireless
and 100 mbps for wired Ethernet. Also the LAN wireless speed is
slower than LAN wired Ethernet speeds.

Why is this so? Is there a larger hardware/software overhead for
wireless networking?

What are the implications for Gigabit Ethernet or for 11n wireless?

Thanks for the enlightenment.

What type of Internet connection do you have?
(What speed do you pay your Internet Service Provider for?)

What does http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ give you for speed when
connected by wire?
(Yes - I saw you did the test at whatismyip.com... I would still like you
to try a couple of cities at the above site - particularly any *close* to
you.)

What does http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ give you for speed when
wireless?
(Yes - I saw you did the test at whatismyip.com... I would still like you
to try a couple of cities at the above site - particularly any *close* to
you.)

Were the above two tests done on the same computer/device?

Do you have the most up-to-date wired and/or wireless device drivers from
the actual hardware manufacturer of each device (Microsoft is unlikely to
have been the one to manufacture either of those devices - don't get your
hardware device drivers for these devices from them)? Visit their web
page(s) and find out. (Belarc Advisor or just Device Manager can help you
figure out what manufacturer and what device you have.)

I get ~11,500kbps download and ~1,000kbps upload at home on a cable modem.
My grandmother pays much less and gets about 1300kbps download and 320kbps
upload speed on her DSL. All of those numbers are reguardless of
wired/wireless (given a good wireless connection/strong signal) since
neither is anywhere near the 54Mbps theoretical maximum wireless or 100Mbps
maximum wired (the actual maximum is always less.)

At work I get ~95,000kbps download and ~18,000kbps on wired, but top out
wirelessly for the download speed due to the limitation (right now) of using
wireless g technology.

All of the Internet tests are affected by many things. What version of
Flash you are running, for example. The processor speed of your computer
could even be a factor. The drivers for the network technology you are
using. The time of day and how many other users using the same speed test
or even the same ISP you are. The path that your ISP takes to get to the
test site you choose to use.

However - if you say you have ~25Mbps (~25,000kbps) download speed and
500kbps upload speed (although what a strange combination, IMO, of speeds to
pay for) then I'm not sure you really have much to worry about in terms of
using the Internet.

Perhaps just being picky, but it's 802.11 or at least ".11"... ;-) Wireless
a, b, g or n right now.

802.11 (2Mbps theoretical max)
802.11b (11Mbps theoretical max)
802.11a (54Mbps theoretical max)
802.11g (54Mbps theoretical max)
802.11n (>100Mbps theoretical max)

If you are getting a significant drop in speed between a wireless connection
to your LAN vs a wired connection to the same LAN --> then you need to look
at *your* equipment and drivers. Router updated? Router configured to give
you the best speed? Wireless network devioce in your computer(s) updated
with the latest driver from the manufacturer? System up to date with the OS
and application drivers?

What if you test the transfer speed from one computer to another with one
being on wired and the other being on wireless within your own LAN? What is
the transfer speed between the two like? You should grab a good ~60% of the
wireless maximum speed or more.
 
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M

Mike Vandeman

Shenan Stanley said:
What type of Internet connection do you have?
(What speed do you pay your Internet Service Provider for?)

What does http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ give you for speed when
connected by wire?
(Yes - I saw you did the test at whatismyip.com... I would still like
you to try a couple of cities at the above site - particularly any *close*
to you.)

What does http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ give you for speed when
wireless?
(Yes - I saw you did the test at whatismyip.com... I would still like
you to try a couple of cities at the above site - particularly any *close*
to you.)

Were the above two tests done on the same computer/device?

Do you have the most up-to-date wired and/or wireless device drivers from
the actual hardware manufacturer of each device (Microsoft is unlikely to
have been the one to manufacture either of those devices - don't get your
hardware device drivers for these devices from them)? Visit their web
page(s) and find out. (Belarc Advisor or just Device Manager can help you
figure out what manufacturer and what device you have.)

I get ~11,500kbps download and ~1,000kbps upload at home on a cable modem.
My grandmother pays much less and gets about 1300kbps download and 320kbps
upload speed on her DSL. All of those numbers are reguardless of
wired/wireless (given a good wireless connection/strong signal) since
neither is anywhere near the 54Mbps theoretical maximum wireless or
100Mbps maximum wired (the actual maximum is always less.)

At work I get ~95,000kbps download and ~18,000kbps on wired, but top out
wirelessly for the download speed due to the limitation (right now) of
using wireless g technology.

All of the Internet tests are affected by many things. What version of
Flash you are running, for example. The processor speed of your computer
could even be a factor. The drivers for the network technology you are
using. The time of day and how many other users using the same speed test
or even the same ISP you are. The path that your ISP takes to get to the
test site you choose to use.

However - if you say you have ~25Mbps (~25,000kbps) download speed and
500kbps upload speed (although what a strange combination, IMO, of speeds
to pay for) then I'm not sure you really have much to worry about in terms
of using the Internet.

Perhaps just being picky, but it's 802.11 or at least ".11"... ;-)
Wireless a, b, g or n right now.

802.11 (2Mbps theoretical max)
802.11b (11Mbps theoretical max)
802.11a (54Mbps theoretical max)
802.11g (54Mbps theoretical max)
802.11n (>100Mbps theoretical max)

If you are getting a significant drop in speed between a wireless
connection to your LAN vs a wired connection to the same LAN --> then you
need to look at *your* equipment and drivers. Router updated? Router
configured to give you the best speed? Wireless network devioce in your
computer(s) updated with the latest driver from the manufacturer? System
up to date with the OS and application drivers?

What if you test the transfer speed from one computer to another with one
being on wired and the other being on wireless within your own LAN? What
is the transfer speed between the two like? You should grab a good ~60%
of the wireless maximum speed or more.

Thanks. Interesting points. I cannot yet begin to cover the whole territory
as you describe it. I should also mention that I test the LAN connection
speed between my Vista desktop PC and my Xbox 360 using the Media Center. HD
works well with wired Ethernet but not well with 11g wireless connections. I
think that Microsoft recommends wired connections. I just never understood
why.

I have Shaw cable Internet in Canada. I'm really happy with my TP-Link 11g
wireless router and an SB 5102 cable modem. If I interpret you correctly, in
an imperfect world, I would do better with a Gigabit 11n wireless router and
adapters and I could probably support the Media Center connection as well or
better with 11n, but 11n would likely be slower than Gigabit.

Given what you say, I think a Gigabit wireless router and adapters would
save a lot of difficult technical work. One cannot go wrong given a 15 day
money back policy.

Have a nice holiday.
 

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