Broadband connections are the norm nowadays, gone were the days when dial-up connections and ISDNs were the mainstream internet connections. We now have broadband connections as the most common form of internet connections. Before, I was happy with a 56 kbps (kilobits per second) connection, but now, a 1 mbps (megabits per second) connection seems slow. When I had my first dial-up internet connect at home, a 10-megabyte file takes a couple of minutes to download. Now, it just takes a matter of seconds.
The most common broadband connection is Wi-Fi (wireless) or wired broadband connections. The most obvious difference between the two is how the device connects to the network, either wirelessly or connected through a wire. So which one is better? I’ve been asked this question a lot of times by my friends and family, and even from some clients when I was still a technical support rep.
Wireless connections come in different flavors: There’s a connection that is provided completely wireless by the provider, such as mobile phone operators that allow you to connect to their network; there are also satellite connections; and there are wireless networks that stem from wired connections where a main computer or router allows other devices to connect to it wirelessly. The latter is the most common wireless setup in homes.
Even though these 2 connections have the same bandwidth, the quality may not be the same. There are some things that you should consider if you’re trying to decide which type of internet connection you would want to use. It is quite simple, but digging much deeper, there’s much more to just the difference in the way these two connections are set up. Let’s focus on the following aspects:
Installation of Internet Connection
Wired broadband connections are easy to install. The techs, however, will have to physically set up the cables from the post to the router inside your home or establishment. Once the cables are set, you just need to connect them to the router and into the PC, and then you’re good to go. Further setup may be needed, such as logging you into the network using the router user interface.
Wi-Fi connection installations vary. If you have a device that you need to connect to an existing wireless network such as a mobile service provider, it’s as easy as locating the network through your device and connecting to it. If the network has security, you just need to type in the password and you’ll be able to connect.
However, if you’re installing the main connection or the access point for other devices, it is most likely a wired connection and you’ll need to set it up just like a DSL connection, with the addition of setting up the security of the wireless connection. And before you set up the wireless connection, you need to make sure that your main computer can connect to the internet first, or else, you won’t be able to test the other devices.
In a nutshell, setting up an internet network connection, wired connections are easier, provided that the internet service provider will be the one setting up the cables from your router to the power/communication lines outside. If you have a device that will connect to an existing wireless network, it is almost effortless compared to any other type of connection.
Internet Connection Maintenance and Repair
Maintenance and repair for wireless or wired internet connections are basically the same. If there’s a network problem, whether you have a wireless or a wired broadband connection, it should be addressed by the internet service provider. Wired connections are much easier to maintain and repair though. You just need to concentrate on the PC that’s connected to it. But for wireless connections, problems could be device-specific since each device connects to a wireless network differently.
Internet Connection Speed
Speed is not an issue. If a wireless network has a peak of 10 mbps and if a wired connection also has a peak of 10 mbps, you may be able to achieve the peak speed. However, the quality and stability of the connection matters. What’s the use of having a high-bandwidth connection if you can’t reach that speed or if you’re connection keeps on disconnecting?
Stability of the Internet Connection
Wi-Fi connections are more susceptible to signal loss due to interference. There are lots of things that could interfere with a wireless signal: distance between the device and the access point, signal strength, weather, electrical devices, other wireless connections, walls, appliances and so on. There’s a high probability that you won’t be able to reach the rated maximum speed of the internet connection.
DSL, based on years of being a wired-connection customer, I almost always reach the peak connection speed unless there’s an outage or a problem with the network. However, in a lot of cases, remote areas may have more problems due to their distance to the main data center where the internet connection originates.
Which of the two is more accessible?
Wi-Fi connections from mobile service providers do, however, offer a unique advantage that wired connections will never have. Yes, it’s accessibility. You cannot connect to your wired broadband line if you’re outside your home or your office. On the other hand, most service providers allow access points in different areas, allowing you to connect to the internet on-the-go.
Those should be your main concerns when choosing between Wi-Fi and a wired broadband connection. The brand or the provider, modems, peak speed will depend on your preference though. Weigh what would suit your needs and the advantages and disadvantages.