Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ethernet (Wired LAN) vs Wi-Fi in Campus

Hi all,
When i first joined IIT Guwahati, I wanted a WiFi connection in hostel rooms as well in labs instead of the regular Ethernet. My friends in the outside had WiFi in their campus, and could move and still surf the net. With Ethernet its quite limited. But after 3 years in the Institute I realise that Ethernet is much better than WiFi (Even more costly to set up over a large region). A comparison is given below.

Pros of Ethernet over WiFi:
  • Speed  :- WiFi has a maximum speed of 54Mbps for 802.11b/g , in 802.11 its much higher (Up to 150 Mbps ) (See Were as in Ethernet its 10Mbps,100Mbps and 1Gbps. In most of the campuses 802.11b/g is employed and 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet is employed. WiFi is more prone to errors (collisions) and suffer from much of packet loss especially if the access points are not connected using a wired backbone (May be Optic/Ethernet etc).  Were as Ethernet is more reliable and give better service. Lan Games, Dc++ Works superb on Ethernet. On WiFi it sucked, at least for me. WiFi is more prone to interference. As the distance from access point increases speeds falls considerably. In Ethernet speeds do fall (Distance from nearest switch) but is at much more slower rate than in Wifi.
  • Performance/Reliability :- Ethernet is much more reliable than WiFi. The theoretical maximum speed (at-least 100Mbps , 1Gbps is difficult to achieve because of long cable lengths, more number of users per cable etc). WiFi this performance is hardly achieved. Connection drops are more frequent  in WiFi.
Cons of Ethernet over WiFi:-

  • Cost :-  Laying down long cables is much more costly than purchasing some access points. WiFi is much cheaper to establish than Ethernet in large area. 
  • Mobility :- WiFi provides a great mobility. Ethernet has a limited mobility.

I feel that WiFi is more suited for areas like Coffe Shops/Homes/Restaurants rather than educational institutions were most of the people do their work sitting at a single place. and mobility is not much of importance, but the performance and speed is. Hope my friends who used to tease me reliase this and feel jealous.  :P :D