Building a Network Using Ethernet and WiFi

category 6 ethernet cables

Most articles about Ethernet and WiFi treat the technologies as if they are in competition. However, Ethernet and WiFi have different strengths and can be viewed as complementary rather than competitive. Whether the network is in a home, office, or retail location, relying solely on a wireless network misses out on the significant benefits of Ethernet, and vice versa. Here are five considerations when building a network that includes both Ethernet and WiFi:

Category 6 Ethernet cables Still Support Faster Speeds Than WiFi

Category 6 Ethernet Cables contain four wire pairs. To obtain the highest level of performance, all four wire pairs are used for signaling. As a result, category 6 Ethernet cables support speeds of 1,000 Mbps. The most recent WiFi standard, 802.11ac, supports theoretical speeds of 1,331 Mbps. However, tests have shown that actual speeds do not match the theoretical speed. Rather, 802.11ac WiFi performs closer to 300 Mbps, which is much faster than the previous generation of WiFi, but still slower than category 6 Ethernet cables.

Ethernet Has Lower Latency Than WiFi

Latency is the time for a request to reach a server and for return signal to reach the requesting device. Thus, users associate higher latency with lower speeds because higher latency means a longer wait for a response. While latency can vary depending on network traffic, WiFi has an inherently longer latency than Ethernet because the request must be encrypted at the device and decrypted at the WiFi router and the return signal must be encrypted at the WiFi router and decrypted at the device. Typical latency in an Ethernet network is around 1 ms while latency in a typical WiFi network can range anywhere from 2-80 ms.

Ethernet is More Reliable Than WiFi

There is no measure of reliability. Rather, reliability takes into account a few concepts such as signal strength, signal range, and interference. With WiFi, signal strength and signal range depend on environmental factors, such as the physical layout of the space and the location of the WiFi router. In tests, 802.11ac WiFi has a range of around 13 meters, while the maximum length of category 6 Ethernet cables is 100 meters between powered devices. The signal strength of category 6 Ethernet cables is constant along the entire length of the cable, whereas experience shows that signal strength of WiFi varies with physical barriers, distance, and the existence of interfering devices between the WiFi router and the user device. The twisted wire pairs of category 6 Ethernet cables tend to reduce cross-talk (Ethernet’s version of interference), and category 6e Ethernet cables include splines to further reduce cross-talk.

Ethernet is More Secure Than WiFi

Although WiFi uses encryption to secure the wireless signal, WiFi is inherently less secure than Ethernet. The wireless signals within a WiFi network can be intercepted and, with enough time and effort (or with a stolen password), can be decrypted. An Ethernet signal, by contrast, can only be intercepted by a device physically connected to the network.

WiFi is More Convenient Than Ethernet

Where WiFi clearly beats Ethernet is the convenience, particularly for personal devices such as cell phones and tablets. Aside from being free from cables and an Ethernet connection to the wall, most personal devices configure themselves for the network once the WiFi password is entered.

There is no reason to replace an Ethernet network with a WiFi network. In fact, an Ethernet network is much faster (both in terms of bandwidth and latency), more reliable, and more secure than WiFi. Conversely, there is no reason to replace a WiFi network with Ethernet, particularly with the ubiquity of personal devices. Rather, each can be used for what it is best suited. Ethernet can be used for applications that require speed (such as data transfer of large files, streaming multimedia, or gaming), reliability (such as video conferencing and VOIP), or security (such as transferring confidential business or personal information). Similarly, WiFi can be used for applications that require convenience, such as web browsing on a personal device.

Fiber Optics: What Are They?

Optical fiber cables, known as fiber optics, are assemblies similar to electrical cables but contain one or more fibers that are used to carry and transmit light. They are network cables that contain strands of glass fibers inside an insulated casing and are designed for long-distance, high-performance data networking, and telecommunications.

Though fiber optic technology is not new, it was quite expensive in the past due to infrastructure and device support issues. Thanks to some new innovations within the sector, however, fiber optics is much more accessible and structures are able to receive high-speed Internet and high-resolution television services across the United States.

fiber optics cables

How Fiber Optic Cables Work:

Fiber optic cables carry communication signals using pulses of light, which are generated by small lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The light data is packaged in binary format and is sent using a transmitter. During its journey, the light travels through the cable using compacted glass fibers and bounce around as they travel using total internal reflection. As soon as the light data arrives at its destination, it’s translated back into binary and can be used by a computer or device.

Fiber isn’t just for TV and Internet speed, either. It has practical applications in digital signage, imaging optics, spectroscopy, and hydrophones.

Advantages of Fiber Optics

  • Fiber optic cables are much less susceptible to interference compared to other network cables.
  • Signal boosters aren’t necessary when using fiber optics because light travels longer without losing its strength.
  • Fiber is the most expandable and scalable connection available. Dark fiber (unused strands) can be used down the line if the network capacity needs to be expanded.

Fiber Optics Factoids:

  1. Fiber optics can transfer 15.5 terabits of data per second.
  2. The first international fiber optic cable ever used connected the U.S. to France and Britain in 1988. Since then, hundreds more have been installed all over the planet.
  3. Fiber is a binary, digital medium, meaning it sends signals in a 1 and 0 (on and off).
  4. The fastest speed ever recorded on a single fiber line is 43 terabit per second (Tbps).
  5. Fiber is sustainable and is made from Silicon Dioxide, the second-most abundant element on Earth after Oxygen.
  6. There are over 19.2 million miles of fiber optic cabling across the U.S.

Perhaps the most important thing to know about fiber optics is that it’s ever-evolving. New forms of light have already been discovered that could potentially shape the future of fiber technology in revolutionary ways.

Which Ethernet Cable is Right For Me?

Cat6 cable

The world is run by the internet. As of March 2017, studies showed that there were approximately 3.74 billion internet users across the globe. With the constant use of the internet comes new technologies to enhance user experience. A necessary device is the ethernet cable, which connects to the router to provide internet access. While they are used in homes, they are also used in more high-tech settings to carry broadband signals to a number of devices. There are several cables on the market ranging from a Cat5 to a Cat6 cable, and it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Luckily, we’ve taken the time to do the research and break it down for you.

The Cat5 Ethernet Cable

The Cat5 cable is the “old reliable” cable–it’s been around for a while, but consistently gets the job done. You can find Cat5 cables for sale for cheaper than a category 6 cable, but they still can provide a better connection than WiFi. This is the type of cable you need if you want a little more than a regular ethernet cable, but have no need for something as strong as the Cat6 cable.

The Cat5e Ethernet Cable

The “e” stands for enhanced, so even from the name you can tell you’ll get a little more bang than the Cat5, while still not spending as much as the Cat6 cable. Because of its more advanced technologies, it eliminates crosstalk from other wires inside the cables, and can operate at high speeds.

The Cat6 Ethernet Cable

The Cat6 cable is an ethernet cable that provides the fastest connection and highest technology. While they are rumored to be a little fussy to install, they are perfect for companies with a high demand for internet and broadband. Because of its higher technology, it is more expensive than the Cat5 cable and the Cat5e cable.

Overall, the type of cable you need depends on the type of work you will need it to be doing. When buying cables, look for companies that offer lifetime warranties and tech support both before and after the sale. This will make sure you get what you need out of your cable, and feel supported in your endeavors.

4 Ways to Charge Your Phone Faster

cell phone charging cable

In this age of smartphone devices, we’ve all got a little computer within our reach at nearly all times. And we rely on it quite a bit — it helps us get up in the morning, schedule our day, find transportation if we need it, or order food. We use it for socializing, banking, entertainment, and so much more.

So when the phone’s battery drains after using it extensively, we’re often stuck waiting for it to charge until we can use it again. How many of us have been desperately hunched over their cell phone while it’s plugged into the wall with a short charging cable?

To cut down on that waiting time, here are a few ways you can charge your phone faster.

Use USB 3.0 or Higher

The answer could lie within your USB connection. Most, if not all, cell phone charging cables connect to devices, computers, and wall adapters using a USB connection. Most new devices are equipped with a USB 3.0 port, and most cell phone cables have a USB 3.0 at the end. If your cell phone supports 1.5 amps or more, you can use a USB 3.0, which would result in a quicker charging than a USB 2.0 cable.

The most recent version of the USB standard is USB 3.1. If your device is compatible, a USB 3.1 cell phone charging cable would charge your phone the fastest. As an added bonus, if you need to transmit data from, say, your cell phone to your computer while it charges, a USB 3.1 compliant device can transmit data at 10 Gbps, doubling the data transmission rate.

Shut Your Phone Down While It Charges

This may be a no-brainer to some, but your phone will charge faster if you’re not using it. It’s tempting to use your phone while it’s plugged in, especially if you’ve got to finish an episode of that Netflix show you’ve been binging. But if you can, shut your phone down completely while it’s charging. Without background apps eating up the battery, it will be fully charged before you know it.

If you need the phone to be on — maybe you’re awaiting a phone call — then lock your screen. At the very least, letting the screen go black will get more power to the battery.

Plug It Into a Wall

If you don’t have access to a USB 3.0 compliant device or computer, plugging your cell phone charging cable into a wall will charge your phone faster than plugging it into a computer with an older USB connection. The wall adapter that came with your phone will do. If you need to use your phone while it charges, and don’t want to be hunched over it while it’s plugged in with a short cell phone cable, invest in a 6 ft. cell phone charging cable for your charging and entertaining needs.

Use Lightning Cables (for iPhones)

If you’re like the 64% of Americans in 2017 who owned an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, iPod product, you probably know what a lightning cable is. If not, it’s the cell phone charging cable that comes with your iPhone or iPad that doesn’t seem to last very long. If something happens to the cable provided to you, there are lightning cables for sale online. Just be sure that you’re purchasing lightning cables MFi certified by Apple. Those are the safest and most effective cables as far as charging goes.