WI-FI

Which is better wired or wireless broadband?

Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021 · 20 mins

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What is the difference between wired and wireless broadband?

Since the pandemic hit, the internet has become more important than ever before. With online school and work-from-home scenarios becoming more commonplace, people are looking for fast internet connections to get work done without any interruptions. Hence, it’s important to understand the various options available in the market before choosing an internet connection.

In this article, we will discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of a wired and wireless broadband connection. We will also help you choose the right connection for your daily internet needs.

What is broadband?

A broadband connection provides users with a high-speed connection to the internet. The earliest avatar was the dial-up connection, but they went out of fashion as they were very slow and cumbersome. Broadband technology allows you to communicate information through data and voice by making use of a wide range of network systems and devices. Broadband connection refers to internet access using a variety of wireless and wired networks, including DSL, modem, fibre optic cable, Wi-Fi, FiOS, WiMAX, satellites, 3G, and 4G—all of which offer faster speed than a dial-up connection.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a network that transmits data very quickly using copper lines. However, the speed may vary depending on the plan you choose and your location. The modem is a device that is connected to the computer. With the help of data lines, it connects to the internet and then sends that information to any connected device.

Mobile broadband is also known as a cellular network or mobile network. In this type of internet connection, cell towers are used to transfer signals. The network consists of cells that are connected to one another and also to telephone exchanges or switches.

Types of broadband connections

There are two types of broadband connections – wired and wireless broadband. Here is a detailed description of both connections.

Wired Broadband

Wired broadband refers to a connection that consists of cables. These cables can either be made of copper, fibre optic, or twisted pair. A wired connection is designed to carry different electrical signals from one end to another. In most wired networks, an internet connection is taken using a cable modem or a T1 line. This connection is then shared with multiple devices using the wired network connection. Some services that are provided via wired broadband include internet, phone, and cable services. Wired broadband connections are very reliable as signals are conveyed directly through cables. However, when it comes to installation, a wired connection can be cumbersome and takes up a lot of time. Also, a wired connection’s coverage is limited as it can operate only in an area that is covered by a wired system.

Wireless Broadband

Wireless internet connection works through radio links using infrared waves or electromagnetic waves. This type of network connection does not use wires for voice communication or data. All wireless devices have sensors or antennas. Some wireless devices include TV remotes, wireless sensors, cellular mobile, laptops with WLAN cards, and satellite discs. While a wireless broadband connection can cover a much wider range compared to a wired network, it can experience blocked or weakened signals. Some causes of cell signal blockages are terrain obstructions like mountains, hills, large buildings, a highway overpass, and also the distance of a device from the cell tower.

Difference between broadband internet and Wi-Fi

Broadband connections can be wired or wireless. If you’re looking for a high-speed internet connection then wired broadband is a great option. On the other hand, Wi-Fi is a wireless internet network that you can use to connect all your devices without the need for wires and cables. A wireless broadband connection is usually known as Wi-Fi.

Advantages of a wired broadband connection

A wired broadband connection comes with a lot of advantages. Let’s take a look at them.

Speed

This is one of the main advantages of wired networks. Wired networks are usually faster when compared to a wireless broadband connection. Data speeds are continuously improving with the development of new technologies and Gigabit routers. Additionally, wired connections tend to be free of the dead spots that can sometimes hamper a wireless network. This is because separate cables are used to connect every device to the network and each cable transmits data at the same amount of speed.

Reliability and stability

When wired networks are configured properly, they provide maximum stability and reliability. Once the switches, Ethernet cables, and hubs are all installed well, the result is a very reliable system. Although wireless networks are constantly changing and improving, you will notice that wired connections are far more reliable and stable than wireless broadband. Another major reason why wired networks function well is that the signals are not influenced by any other connection. For example, if there are two or more wireless networks in close proximity, their signals could interfere with each other and that can then compromise stability. Also, if there are objects or walls nearby, this could impact a wireless connection whereas a wired connection stays unaffected.

Visibility

Since wired connections cannot be detected by other wired networks, there is no interference. However, the network nodes are still able to communicate with other connection points or nodes to initiate proper data transfer including storage over the network routes.

Cost

Depending on the configuration, wired networks can be inexpensive to set up. Routers, ethernet cables, switches, and other types of hardware are quite cost-effective. Also, the hardware used for these networks has a good lifespan. They can work properly for long periods before an upgrade is required.

Security

When set up with the right security applications and firewalls, a wired connection is well protected from all unauthorized access. As long as you have a network that is monitored for any suspicious activity and all the ports are activated correctly, a wired network is very safe to use.

Disadvantages of a wired broadband connection

Installation

Wired connections can take relatively longer to set up because they require different components to complete the installation process. Depending on the size of the infrastructure, the installation of a wired network is complex and lengthy as every device needs to be connected to the network. Hubs, routers, switches and software such as firewalls and security applications need to be configured, all of which takes up a lot of time.

Lack of mobility

A wired network isn’t flexible when it comes to mobility. If you need to use your device in another location, you need to use extra switches and cables to stay connected to the network. This can sometimes be inconvenient for people who need to work from different places.

Wires

When you have a wired network, it can sometimes get untidy or unsightly. This is irksome especially for those who want a clean and tidy space at all times. Cables and wires can also cause falling hazards or get disconnected by accident while cleaning or if bumped into. On the other hand, the endless wires and cables will not be a bother at all in bigger spaces such as an office. Also, wires may be a reminder of the stability and reliability of the connection.

Maintenance

You may not need a server if it’s a small framework. However, once there are more devices added to the network, you would need a server to handle storage, connectivity, workload, and capacity. So, if a wired network needs a server, then its maintenance could be quite costly. Additionally, for an office, you would need an IT professional or staff to take care of the security and maintenance of the network.

Advantages of a wireless broadband connection

If you’re looking out for a wireless broadband connection, then here are some of the advantages of a wireless internet connection.

Cost

It is relatively inexpensive to set up a wireless network unless you need additional equipment such as commercial-grade routers or wireless repeaters. Wireless repeaters boost the signal strength, while a commercial-grade router provides improved security, including a more reliable network.

Installation

When compared to a wired connection, the installation process of a wireless broadband connection is much easier and faster as there is much less equipment required. Also, since you do not have to connect each device to a network using cables, it does not take up a lot of time. So, if you’re looking for a hassle-free and faster internet connection, then wireless internet is the perfect way to go.

Mobility

Wireless internet offers users more flexibility and mobility as they are not tethered by cables. You can use the network from any location on any kind of wireless device. There are absolutely no hassles and problems with cables. Another advantage is that due to the absence of wires and cables, your space is clean and tidy.

Disadvantages of wireless broadband connection

We have seen the advantages. But a wireless broadband connection also comes with its own set of disadvantages as listed below.

Visibility

In the case of wireless internet, one of the biggest problems is visibility. Since networks are visible to each other, this may affect the connection performance. Due to obstructions or the presence of other wireless devices, there could be interference in the connection. Additionally, the connectivity points or nodes on a wireless network are unable to “hear” other nodes on single networks. So, the quality and performance of the wireless broadband connection can be affected.

Speed

It is important to note that a wireless network is not capable of the connection speeds that come with a wired network. Instead, a wireless connection is dependent on the maximum speed of the configuration. However, there are some advanced wireless technologies such as WLAN-11, LTE, and LTE-A that work well to achieve internet speeds that are equivalent to that of a wired network. So, if you’re looking for a high-speed network connection, then a wireless broadband connection may not be the right choice for you unless you can pay for top-grade technology.

Security

In general, a wireless connection is less secure than a wired network since its communication and data signals are transmitted through the air. Since connections travel via radio waves, they can be easily intercepted if there are no proper encryption technologies in place. However, when a wireless network is properly secured, the connection is just as safe as a wired connection. The encryption technology can help prevent any unauthorized users from penetrating or identifying the network.

Reliability and stability

If wireless connections face interferences and obstructions from objects such as walls and buildings, they tend to become unstable. People find it an unreliable option because of this. Also, if you keep changing your locations regularly, the signal strength can vary. Therefore, a wireless connection is inconsistent when it’s compared to the wired network option.

Things to keep in mind before getting a broadband connection

Before you go ahead and book your broadband internet connection, you must choose a service provider that gives you maximum benefits. Here are a few things to consider before getting your broadband connection.

Location and availability

It’s important to check and compare the prices of different service providers in any given area to get a proper understanding of what is available. Check the availability in your location, including what wires and lines will be used for the connection.

Offers and plans

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The internet has become an important part of most homes and businesses, and you may be spending quite a bit on it. So, before slecting a suitable plan, you must analyze and see how much data you require for your internet consumption. The amount of data that you need will depend on how you use the internet. Some files and features take up a lot of data. If you need an internet connection just to send emails or browse, then you do not require a lot of data. But, for instance, if you watch a lot of videos and work using heavy graphics, then your data consumption will be higher. At the end of the day, you have to analyse your usage before you make a decision.

Speed

Some service providers may claim that their service plans offer the maximum speed. However, the speed offered by each provider may vary. Therefore, make sure to check your internet speed beforehand. You can do a simple broadband speed test to analyze your broadband speed in seconds.

Cable vs DSL

When choosing between a DSL or cable connection, most people would prefer the former. However, if you’re looking for high-speed internet, then cable is a better option. If you run a business that is very reliant on an internet connection, then a cable connection is a smart choice. This is because, with a cable connection, data is transmitted through the cable lines that are specifically designed for data signals. Whereas, with a DSL connection, signals are transmitted using a twisted pair that is specifically designed for voice.

Computer specifications

Your broadband performance will mostly depend on your computer specifications, modem, or router you use. Some providers will give you the required specifications for the products. If your computer system does not match the required product specifications, you can still sign up or avail of the services. However, you cannot be sure that you will get the maximum speeds.

Wired or Wireless Internet

This can sometimes be a very difficult choice to make, given that both come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. You must have a proper understanding of both types of connections, including their benefits and drawbacks, before you get your broadband connection installed. If you’re looking for a more reliable and faster connection, then a wired connection is the best option. However, if you want hassle-free and easy internet access, then a wireless connection would be the appropriate option for you.

Data caps and additional costs

The download limit and downloading speed are something that most of us are concerned about. There may be some providers who put certain restrictions when it comes to downloading limits. These data caps can be a cause of concern. Also, there may be some service providers who give you a modem on a rental basis, while others may give it to you for free. Hence, make sure to arm yourself with all the necessary information before opting for a broadband connection.

Other important features

Some other important features to watch out for are contract period, connection fees, and customer service. Although your broadband connection may be easy to install, you may encounter some problems. Therefore, you need a service provider that comes with proper customer service to help you resolve all your internet problems that may arise down the line.

Summary

CategoryWireless NetworkWired Network
MobilityThe network can be accessed from anywhere if it falls within the rangeA wired network’s location is limited by the need to connect to a port or to use a cable.
CablesThe wireless network is a less complicated and tidy option as it uses a bare minimum number of cables.A wired network requires a lot of ports and cables that can be unwieldy, untidy, and disruptive.
Connection SpeedsThe wireless network is slower when compared to a wired network.A wired network is a much faster option than a wireless connection.
SecurityA wireless network is less secure than a wired one as in some cases, both the information and bandwidth can be accessed.A wired network is a more secure solution than a wireless network.
Set upSetting up a wireless network takes less time but is a relatively more expensive option.A wired network can be complicated to set up although it is cheaper than a wireless setup.

Which is better—wired or wireless broadband?

If you’re looking for a broadband connection that is inexpensive and comes with high performance and maximum security, then a wired connection is the best option for you. Also, if mobility is not a concern for you, then a wired network is perfect. However, if you are not concerned about cost and you prefer the latest technology along with mobility, then you should go in for wireless internet. It’s important that you understand your requirements well and choose a broadband connection that suits them perfectly. It’s best to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both and check all the required information such as speed, cost, location, security, mobility, data, and plans before you go ahead and get your connection.

Choosing a reliable broadband internet connection can sometimes be very difficult, but you must take your time to select the best network for your needs. If you’re looking for a good service provider, you can check out ACT Fibernet, which serves more than 1.5 million customers with broadband services using fibre optic technology in 14 cities. So, whether you intend to use the internet for your home or workplace, ACT Fibernet offers you the fastest, most consistent, and unparalleled internet experience through the latest fibre broadband technology. Advanced fibre optics is future-proof and can easily handle speeds above 1,000 Mbps. The data centres and switches employ state-of-the-art technology to give you the best-ever internet experience.

Read tips and tricks to increase your wifi speed here

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