You may want to hardwire your Netflix box or video game console. A new study by Epitiro research reveals that home users who opt for a Wi-Fi connection lose an average of 30 percent of their download speed and latency increases of 10-20 percent. The problem: a crowded wireless spectrum, walls, and bad routers.
“Our data shows that connectivity over Wi-Fi degrades broadband performance considerably in typical circumstances,” said JP Curley, CTO of Epitiro. “Consumers who are experiencing performance issues with Wi-Fi should take steps to improve their home environment or connect directly via wired ethernet.”
Common physical barriers such as walls, furniture, and doors can greatly degrade Wi-Fi signals, as can distance itself. In addition, urban neighborhoods or apartment complexes are often covered in different wireless devices trying to compete for the same wireless spectrum. Most routers run on the same 2.4GHz band, which is the same frequency many baby monitors, TV remotes, microwaves, and other devices use to communicate. Newer routers come with a dual-band mode allowing a switch to a 5GHz wireless frequency that is often less crowded and more reliable. If possible, we also recommend that anyone with a newer computer or device invest in a Wireless N router. 802.11 (a,b,g) are older and do not operate as quickly. Finally, keep in mind that sometimes Internet Service Providers may be more to blame than your Wi-Fi router.
There is a silver lining, however. The research company found that Web browsing speeds remained virtually unaffected by the problems with Wi-Fi. Streaming video, downloading files, using VOIP Internet calling, or playing online games are activities that could be greatly affected by Wi-Fi’s shortcomings.
To figure all this out, Epitiro monitored the Wi-Fi performance of 14,001 volunteers in the UK, US, Italy, and Spain. 56 percent of those involved used Wi-Fi, while 44 percent used a wired broadband connection via an ethernet cable.