Network speed – How much is enough?
The internet has been the single most influential catalyst in the revolution of technology that we have known and the adoption of home computing has been largely due to our ability to connect to the internet wirelessly. Could you imagine Facebook and Twitter being the phenomenon they are if we were still tied to a wired connection for all our internet activities? Some years ago a telephone point in the hall and a TV socket in the living room was about all that was expected in a new home. Nowadays we have connected TV’s streaming our movies through video on demand services, wireless broadband and 4G, and our music is increasingly coming from services such as Spotify, Tidal and Napster rather than HMV or a Virgin Megastore.
Here in the UK it has to be said that we have struggled with WIFI. We’ve all been in a room that has no signal. WIFI was designed to work on the horizontal plane in a building with stud walls and plasterboard. But here in the UK we tend to build out of stone and we tend to build vertically and this is why we have so much trouble ensuring good WIFI coverage in a home and why we have become so dependent on strategically placed wireless access points (WAP’s) around a property.
As convenient as wireless is (it currently carries around 60% of internet traffic), you really can’t beat a wired connection – whatever Steve Jobs says! For devices to work well they need to be connected to an internet connection that is robust and reliable and can transfer data at an appropriate speed. A standard ethernet connection offers 100mb/s (megabits per second) dedicated to the port, so no matter how many other devices may be connected around the home, your ethernet port will give 100mb/s. Wifi by comparison shares it’s bandwidth with the other devices connected wirelessly. This is one reason why you may be seeing “lag” in your music or video streaming.