Businesses that depend on the internet to communicate internally and connect with customers and business partners have two primary connection choices if they need a versatile, high-speed connection that can support today’s fast-paced and bandwidth-intensive internet activity—WiFi or ethernet. But how do these two internet connection types differ, and which should you choose for your company? In this article, we examine WiFi and ethernet in detail, comparing an ethernet cable and wireless connection when it comes to internet speed, reliability, latency, security features and cost-effectiveness.
WOW’s customizable business internet plans are designed to flex and scale as your business needs change for optimal connectivity for all your mission-critical operations.
The difference between ethernet and WiFi is that WiFi uses a wireless connection between the device and router that doesn’t require cables, whereas an ethernet connection transmits data over an ethernet cable.
Ethernet is usually faster than WiFi. Ethernet can be as fast as 10Gbps, whereas today’s most common WiFi technology, WiFi 6, can theoretically reach 9.6Gbps. However, actual WiFi speed is far less—around 1.3Gbps.
With WiFi, there’s a greater risk of interference due to the signal being blocked, either by physical objects or electrical devices. Ethernet connections aren’t affected by objects or electrical interference, making them more reliable.
Due to its wireless setup, a WiFi connection is more easily hacked than an ethernet network. With ethernet, a device must be physically connected to the company’s network to be a potential threat.
Although ethernet can be more expensive than WiFi, due to wired connections between all devices, for businesses that depend on a robust, consistent, always reliable and highly secure internet connection, ethernet is seen as more cost-effective.
You probably already have a good idea of what the “trade-offs” are between WiFi and ethernet, but here’s a more detailed assessment of the pros and cons of these two popular ways for businesses to connect to the internet.
WiFi – Pros and Cons
The biggest advantages of WiFi are ease of connectivity and convenience, plus the ability to connect many different types of devices in various locations. WiFi is supported by most internet-enabled devices. Another major advantage of WiFi is that you don’t need to run cables everywhere to connect individual computers and company servers. WiFi is an instant connection. However, it isn’t always reliable, and the speed you get may not be consistent. Factors that can affect WiFi speed include physical objects that may get in the way and possibly other WiFi signals from nearby companies or residents. WiFi can also experience frequent dropouts and high latency. Latency is a measure of how long it takes for data to travel to a remote server and then back to your computer. This can be especially noticeable during video conferencing.
Fast and convenient to set up; automatic connections
No cables needed, ideal for mobile devices
Wide support by many devices
Inconsistent connection susceptible to interference
Frequently dropped signals
For certain uses, such as emailing, web browsing and audio/video streaming, a WiFi network may suffice. And it’s faster to get up and running. However, for more bandwidth-intensive uses, like video conferencing and large file transfers, WiFi can at times be unreliable. Any interference, whether physical or electrical, can cause degraded signal quality, which leads to reduced speed and sometimes, a complete loss of the signal. If you’ve ever seen a person’s video “freeze up” while on a video conference call, this is what’s occurring.
Ethernet – Pros and Cons
When it comes to businesses, the major advantages of an ethernet cable system are speed, reliability and security. Even though ethernet cables must be run between offices and departments, it is a more straightforward installation, as every device is physically connected, rather than having the uncertainty of networks being “seen” by outside entities. This is why it is far more secure than a WiFi setup. However, companies must ensure that all staff computers and servers have ethernet connectors. They must also have the time and the budget to run potentially costly cables through walls and between rooms throughout the facility.
Fastest speeds available
Highly stable and reliable internet connection
Improved data transfer speed and quality
Can be expensive with multiple devices
Takes more time to set up – requires cables, ethernet cards or adapters and routers
Ethernet cables can cause a cluttered look
Due to the need for ethernet cables between all devices, this type of connectivity can cost both time and money. But this is often considered a reasonable trade-off for businesses that rely on the internet for their daily operations and to connect with customers, clients and partners.
Think of all the internet-based applications that your company uses. Do you ever experience slowdowns due to poor or uneven internet service? Do these slowdowns ever create difficulties for your company, such as not having enough time to engage with your customers? There are many reasons why a business needs the fastest, most reliable internet available.
Greater Productivity (email, chats, market research, customer service, SaaS applications)
Improved Access to Cloud Applications (CRM software, content management systems, banking platforms, data analytics, remote backups)
More Effective Team Collaboration (remote employees, online collaboration tools)
Advanced Business Apps (VoIP calls, large data transfers, videoconferencing)
In-house server hosting (eCommerce, company intranet, client portals)
Enhanced Security and Agility (protection against hacking and cybercrime)
To take advantage of all the internet has to offer, businesses must have the best connectivity available.
In real-life applications, your connection quality and speed will ultimately depend on the speed of your provider’s internet plan. That is, even if you use a CAT 6 ethernet cable, which enables up to 1Gbps over a distance exceeding 300 feet, if your plan is 500 Mbps, that’s as much speed as you’ll get. The best ethernet cable and most expensive equipment cannot increase the speed of your internet plan. This is why, in addition to your ethernet connection setup, for optimal internet connectivity it is essential to have a robust plan from a forward-looking internet provider.
WOW! Business Internet delivers top internet speed and unsurpassed reliability with its business-savvy ethernet solution. Features include dedicated direct fiber internet for speeds as high as 10 Gig, with 99.9% uptime and iron-clad security for your critical network operations.
Our fiber ethernet plans are completely customizable and scalable to fit the changing needs of your organization. State-of-the-art fiber optic cable virtually eliminates any chance of interference, giving you a strong, reliable and consistently strong internet connection.
Choose between point-to-point or multi-point connections with priority switching that meets changing requirements. An ethernet connection can be less costly than a T1 line, and it’s less of a hassle to deploy. At WOW, our ethernet business services are backed by our 24/7, always available and US-based technical support team.
To learn about our pricing and discuss configuration options, talk to a WOW! business ethernet expert today!