Confusion about wireless speed & internet

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by fbx, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. fbx macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2007
    I have a wireless G network in my house running a cable modem (Comcast) to the Net. I thought that upgrading to a wireless N network would speed up my wireless access to the internet, but someone on another msg board said it wouldn't, that it would only speed up access between computers on the local network.

    Well, I thought I remembered an increase in Internet access speed when I went from B to G network (11 vs 54 mbps), and that N network would allow a similar speed increase.

    Since I really don't use the network for anything but allowing various computers to access the Net, should I just forget wireless N?

    Or have I been misinformed?

  2. Luis macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    Costa Rica
    N will increase the speed of your network. It would speed up your internet, but since you don't have an internet connection that overpasses 54 mbits per second (G speed) then N will not change anything.
  3. fbx thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2007
    Thanks. But could you explain how a wired connection at 100 Mbps is so much faster with the same router and modem? My main computer is wired to the router/modem and is much faster operationally than my wireless G connection.
  4. Catfish_Man macrumors 68030


    Sep 13, 2001
    Portland, OR
    There are two types of "speed", latency and bandwidth. Bandwidth is the average amount of data transferred in a given period of time, and latency is the amount of time it takes for a request to be responded to (high bandwidth and low latency are good). So, for example, a van full of DVDs has great bandwidth but terrible latency. Wireless connections are pretty high latency, which definitely hurts the perceived speed, even if the bandwidth doesn't change.

    There are a number of other reasons, which I don't understand well enough to talk about.

    All that said, I generally don't notice that much difference between wired and wireless unless I'm doing something pretty latency sensitive, so you might check whether you're getting a lot of interference or have something misconfigured with the wireless.
  5. VideoFreek macrumors 6502


    May 12, 2007
    Well, could be that your main computer is just a faster computer--processor speed, etc. will affect internet browsing performance. You'd have to test wired vs. wireless connection performance with the same computer to be sure.

    The other possibility is that you're not getting the wireless speed you think you are. When the signal is weak, or when interference is present, wireless connections will throttle back to a slower speed...perhaps as low as 1-2mbps! You can check this by using a network monitoring utility or by testing large-file transfers over your wireless network. If you are having such problems, you should try to improve the signal quality by repositioning the wireless router, eliminating sources of interference (cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc.). Wireless N might help in this case, too, because N supposedly has a greater range than G.
  6. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2007
    Wake up call

    This is all based upon the fundamental assumption that 802.11 g can EVER achieve 54mbps. It can't. 54% of that bandwidth is overhead. You're actually left with 19mbps. Now divide whats left between (devices - router), say 4, your have 5 mbps, now factor in that signal loss of 30%, thats 30% of you're data throughput. For simplicity sake lets say that was 1mbps, you now have four on this particular device. Divide that by 8 to convert mbps (megabits) into MB(megabytes as there are 8 bits in a byte) and you have 500KB data throughput.

    If you're running an internet connection of more that 4mbps, and other devices are accessing the network you're loosing bandwidth to wi-fi. This is unlikely however as most people only use their wifi when they are surfing, limmiting your bandwith anyway. Say it's just you, on a connection of above 19mbps, the limmitations of 802.11g will always be a factor in you're surfing speed.

    N and MIMO technologies are in theory providing real data throughput of 74mbps, and much more range.

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