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JOD8FY
Nov 19, 2004, 10:07 PM
Hello Everyone,

My friend and I recently tested the theory that a wireless connection is faster than a wired connection. According to Apple's site, the wireless G has a transfer rate of up to 54Mbps. According to my ISP, my wired connection has a transfer rate of 3Mbps. We conducted some tests with the following equipment:

Airport Express
PowerBook G4 with Airport Extreme

The tests went as follows: we downloaded a 9.1MB file and on the wired connection and it took 26 sec. The wireless connection took 30 sec (the computer was within 10 feet of the basestation). Another test was conducted in the same manner with a 4.1MB file with the results for the wired and wireless connections being 14 and 16 seconds, respectively.

According to Apple's site, and many other sites, a wireless connection is supposed to be faster than a wired connection. Any thoughts on what might have happened in these tests?

We concluded that because the length of time that it takes for the data to travel to the computer through a wire is equal to the length of time it takes for the data to reach the basestation. While the signal is already at the computer in a wired connection, the data in a wireless connection still has to travel through the air to get to the computer.

Any thoughts?
JOD8FY

timnosenzo
Nov 19, 2004, 10:17 PM
It really says that the wireless is faster than wired? :confused:

A typical LAN will net you up to 100Mbps... almost twice as fast as an Airport Express. Your Internet bandwidth is the same regardless of what router you use. Once the data leaves your modem, it will always travel faster on a wired 100Mbps connection than a wireless connection.

mwpeters8182
Nov 19, 2004, 10:17 PM
Since the bandwidth for either is limited by the ISP's speed, you should see similar results (3mbps) for both. A way to test your hypothesis would be to send a file over a network, not from the internet over wired and wireless. Wha you should find, since your wired network is most likely 100baseT, is that wired is faster.

MP

jsw
Nov 19, 2004, 10:26 PM
Since the bandwidth for either is limited by the ISP's speed, you should see similar results (3mbps) for both. A way to test your hypothesis would be to send a file over a network, not from the internet over wired and wireless. Wha you should find, since your wired network is most likely 100baseT, is that wired is faster.

MP
Exactly. If you run enough tests, you'll likely see, everything else being equal, the same times for wired vs wireless downloads. I think by "faster than wired" you mean "faster than broadband", which is true. Both 802.11b and 802.11g are faster than the vast majority of broadband connections. However, if you use additional encryption, I suppose there might be a minor speed penalty for downloading wireless vs wired. As mentioned above, though, on any modern system, wired connections will themselves be at least twice as fast for intranet transfers (i.e., within your network).

wPod
Nov 19, 2004, 10:30 PM
theres always an extra step in transmiting data wirelessly. epsecially if your wireless data is encrypted. im surprised anyone would say wireless would be faster. when the theoretical speed of wired is 100mb/s vs 54mb/s wired it makes sense that wired would be faster. ive worked around computers a lot, more than 5 years in IT . . . and ive never seen wireless get close to the speed of wired, except with small files but the time is so small anyway.

jeremy.king
Nov 19, 2004, 10:56 PM
Wow. :rolleyes: This is news to you?

You are comparing the wrong speeds.

saabmp3
Nov 19, 2004, 10:56 PM
The problem with your test is the ISP. Wired, as others have noted is faster than a wireless connection.

BEN

wordmunger
Nov 20, 2004, 12:49 AM
Let me just clarify, in case the other posts don't quite spell it out for you. BOTH your wired and wireless connections are connecting to the Internet via your 3 mbps connection from your ISP. Your wireless can transmit data at up to 54 mbps, and your wired (depending on your ethernet card and hub) can transmit data at up to 1000 mbps, or at a minimum 100 mbps. So the limiting factor is not wired or wireless, but rather, the connection speed from your ISP. The fact that wired is slightly faster is probably due to signal degradation, even at only 10 feet from your base station.

broken_keyboard
Nov 20, 2004, 02:04 AM
Metal is a very good conductor... intuitively you would expect a cable to be faster than air. But it's good that you did the experiment, it is the only way to know for sure.

Mechcozmo
Nov 20, 2004, 02:06 AM
Your tests, my friend, (well, random person on the internet) are worth nothing. You did the wrong thing. But now you know... and BTW, with Gigabit Ethernet your wired AND wireless connection would be toast. :)

Pretty much, next time you want to do some tests, make sure you compare the two numbers first, and don't use the internet to download stuff. Your transfer rates may vary from 100 Kbps to 500 Kbps. Or more depending on "their" servers and your bandwidth limits.

jackieonasses
Nov 20, 2004, 02:19 AM
Metal is a very good conductor... intuitively you would expect a cable to be faster than air. But it's good that you did the experiment, it is the only way to know for sure. It doesn't transmit electricity through the air...Only a Radio-type signal...(like a cordless phone)

saabmp3
Nov 20, 2004, 03:00 AM
It doesn't transmit electricity through the air...Only a Radio-type signal...(like a cordless phone)

Just out of curiosity, what do you think these "signals" are? Magic?

BEN

telecomm
Nov 20, 2004, 03:46 AM
Just out of curiosity, what do you think these "signals" are? Magic?

BEN

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a substantial difference between electromagnetic radiation (wireless transmissions, radio waves, visible light—involving the transmission of photons), and an electrical current (ethernet, household electrical—involving the transmission of electrons)?

floatingspirit
Nov 20, 2004, 05:30 AM
Just out of curiosity, what do you think these "signals" are? Magic?

BEN

Nice! LOL :D

Ph4lynx
Nov 20, 2004, 05:55 AM
you are very stupid, you should not breed.

Wes
Nov 20, 2004, 05:55 AM
Just out of curiosity, what do you think these "signals" are? Magic?

BEN


http://www.lbl.gov/images/MicroWorlds/EMSpec.gif

They are electromagnetic waves, not electricity.

802.11b is runs at 2.4 Ghz, 2.4 x 10^9 which looking at that chart puts it in the microwave section, on the same spectrum as visible light, meaning they also travel at 300,000,000 m/s [roughly, in a vacuum, very close to the speed in air as the refractive index of air is 1.0008, 300,000,000/1.0008 = 299760191.847 m/s] . If we were transfering electricity in the air, why wouldn't your Airport zap you from around the house? Good luck getting electricity to conduct through the air.

Big difference there.

Mitthrawnuruodo
Nov 20, 2004, 06:36 AM
...300,000,000 m/s roughly, in a vacuum...

The speed of light in vacuum is 299 792 458 m/s. 3.00*10^8 is too unprecise when divided by 1.0008... :D

That said, wired networks will ALWAYS be faster than wireless, this has been common knowledge ever since Shannon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_E._Shannon) published his "A Mathematical Theory of Communication" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mathematical_Theory_of_Communication) back in 1948.

Wes
Nov 20, 2004, 06:41 AM
Okay, sorry 300,000,000 is 0.069% off :p.

JOD8FY
Nov 20, 2004, 11:11 AM
Well, from the tests and your responses, it obviously seems that wired is faster than wireless. However, then how does Apple explain this?

JOD8FY

Scottyk9
Nov 20, 2004, 11:23 AM
Well, from the tests and your responses, it obviously seems that wired is faster than wireless. However, then how does Apple explain this?

JOD8FY

You're being sarcastic, right? That is simply a graph of the maximum data transfer of wireless b, wireless g, and a typically data transfer from a broadband internet provider. I see no comparison of wired vs. wireless data transfer speeds...

broken_keyboard
Nov 20, 2004, 11:28 AM
Well, from the tests and your responses, it obviously seems that wired is faster than wireless. However, then how does Apple explain this?

JOD8FY

The first line is not the speed of a wired network, it's the speed of a DSL modem.

DSL Modem: 1.5
Airport: 11
Airport Extreme: 54
Wired Network: 100

Try the following experiment: FTP a file between two computers on your LAN.
Since it is not using the modem, you will learn the true difference in speed.

Y-knot?
Nov 20, 2004, 11:29 AM
You're being sarcastic, right? That is simply a graph of the maximum data transfer of wireless b, wireless g, and a typically data transfer from a broadband internet provider. I see no comparison of wired vs. wireless data transfer speeds...

I think you're right. Completely pointless!

edesignuk
Nov 20, 2004, 11:30 AM
Well, from the tests and your responses, it obviously seems that wired is faster than wireless. However, then how does Apple explain this?

JOD8FY
I really would hope you're joking...but it seems you're not :rolleyes:

AP & APE are both for home networking, you cannot compare speeds from a wireless or wired WAN connection (the connection your ISP provides) with home LAN speeds (be it wired or wireless).

realityisterror
Nov 20, 2004, 11:36 AM
you're trying to make this more difficult than it really is...
all apple is saying is that airport extreme is faster than airport which is faster than your average internet connection... when you say "wired" that doesn't mean anything... if you want to really compare speeds accurately (keep in mind there's also traffic on the internet), you need to send a file from computer A to computer B with an ethernet cable. the speed will be roughly 100mbps. then send the file again from computer A to computer B over wireless, preferably with no encryption. the speed will be 54mbps... of course, then you need to run your tests several times to find the average speed... "wired" is faster...

then again, maybe i'm making this more difficult than it really is...

reality

JOD8FY
Nov 20, 2004, 11:40 AM
Sorry for my ignorance everyone, I really wasn't being sarcastic :p. Thanks for the replies.

JOD8FY

jxyama
Nov 20, 2004, 11:48 AM
simpler analogy...

let's say you and your friend are having a drinking contest. you can drink 5 cup of beer an hour and your friend can drink 10 cups of beer an hour.

what you are comparing is who can drink faster when the person pouring the drinks can only fill 1 cup an hour. then it doesn't matter who does the drinking, because there won't be enough beer ready to be drunk anyway.

you can replace "you" with airport/wireless and "your friend" with airport extreme/wired, respectively. the "person pouring the drink" is the broadband.

gekko513
Nov 20, 2004, 12:08 PM
I would really consider going to another pub in that case :p

Westside guy
Nov 20, 2004, 01:10 PM
I think you guys are ignoring something significant that also affects any comparison. When you transfer data over a wired or wireless connection, the data itself is only a part of the transfer. All electronic transfers carry significant "baggage" in the form of routing information, encoding overhead, etc. I believe wireless (802.11a/b/g) packets include significantly more of this overhead than wired (TCP/IP) packets.

You also have to realize that wireless is shared bandwidth - 801.11g is a 54mbps connection ideally, but that's the total available for all computers. If you've got a more complicated network, such as a WDS Airtunes setup, that part of the network is actually eating up a good chunk of your wireless bandwidth; even when there's no computer actively transferring data. Other devices such as wireless phones and microwaves can also impact your true transfer rate over a wireless network.

Aside #1: I realize that broadband wired connections are also "shared" - but that's in a different sense of the word. Your 3mbps cable connection is your guaranteed chunk of a much larger available data pipe.

Aside #2: Why are some of you being so insulting towards each other? Are you 12? Silly geek pissing matches aren't going to score any points with the girls... :D

Calvinatir
Nov 20, 2004, 02:52 PM
This thread is making my head hurt

johnnyjibbs
Nov 20, 2004, 03:47 PM
Reading this thread has been quite entertaining :D

As many have pointed out, the original poster is comparing apples with pears. Wireless b or g is slower than ethernet (100base and gigabit) but faster than basically any internet connection, broadband or otherwise. A simple error meant that he was comparing the broadband speed with the wirelesss signal capability, not the theoretical ethernet speed (such as file transfer between two computers on that network). By that logic, if I was still on a 56k modem internet connection, I would just stick that wire into a wireless router so I could get 54MBps download speeds instead of waiting 8 hours to download anything useful :D

Oh, and WiFi uses radio waves which are indeed part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Electromagnetic waves ALWAYS travel at the "speed of light", regardless of the wavelength/frequency. This speed is, of course, the maximum speed that any object in the universe can travel at (i.e. objects which have no rest mass). Although wires such as ethernet cables use electric currents to transmit data (unless they are optic fibres, in which case they use light (electromagnetic waves ;))), an electric current is also transmitted at the speed of light and so this shouldn't affect speed.

;)