How Fast Can A Wi-Fi Network Move?

A Wi-Fi standard indicates the maximum amount of theoretical speed of a Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi, like most computer networks, caters to various performance levels, and it depends on the standard of technology that it uses. Previously, the standard is the fastest. However, soon enough, the new 802.11ax standard moved ahead of this when it got launched before 2019 came to an end.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers take charge of accrediting these standards of Wi-Fi. Every standard is rated and scored with considerations to a particular Wi-Fi standard’s maximum theoretical network bandwidth. But a specific Wi-Fi network’s performance is not equal to these theoretical maximums.

Keep in mind that in actuality, the speed of a particular Wi-Fi wireless network connection banks on various factors.

Before purchasing a Wi-Fi router, you must ensure that it utilizes the latest version of the 802.11 standards, together with other previous inclusions. The earlier models of new and used routers that are on sale might be graded below this standard.

What Is The Difference Between The Theoretical Speed And Actual Network Speed?

The network 802.11b usually works slower than almost 50% of the theoretical peak at about 5.5 Mbps. Moreover, the networks 80211g and 802.11a typically run slower than 20 Mbps.

However, though 802.11n grades at 600 Mbps, its Ethernet connection can surpass the 802.11n when it comes to real-world use. Keep in mind that the performance of Wi-Fi networks gets enhanced with every technology generation.

The disparity between theoretical and actual speeds can be experienced and applies to most Wi-Fi networks. Here’s how they differ from each other.

The 802.11b standard has 11 Mbps for its theoretical speed and an actual speed of 5.5 Mbps. The 802.11a has a theoretical speed of 54 Mbps and an actual speed of 20 Mbps. Moreover, the standard 802.11g has a theoretical speed of 54 Mbps and an actual speed of 100 Mbps. Lastly, the standards 892.11n and 802.11ac have theoretical speeds of 600 and 1,300 Mbps and actual speeds of 100 and 200 Mbps, respectively.

Often called the Gigabit Wi-Fi, the standard 802.11ac can be described as the following. The standard 802.11ac can simultaneously cater to a maximum of four devices by utilizing the MU-MIMO or Multi-Use, Multi-Input, Multi-Output technology. It also operates using the 5 GHz band and offers a maximum speed of 1.3 Gbps.

The Future Of Wi-Fi Standards

Launched by the IEEE before 2029 came to an end, 802.11ax is the latest standard for wireless communications. This standard offers faster speed when compared to the 802.11ac.

The 802.11ax can still operate even when substantial interference comes across the signal. Also, Mu-MIMO technology is integrated into the standard, 802.11ax. This means that these standards can deliver information to multiple devices at one time.

Most of the previous routers can only send information to a device on a one-by-one basis. It does it quickly, and this data switch is unnoticeable.

Factors That Limit The Connection Speeds Of Wi-Fi

The distance between devices, line of sight obstructions between devices, radio interference, and network protocol overhead are the causes for the variance of actual and theoretical Wi-Fi speeds.

Additionally, if there are a lot of devices that communicate and connect on the network at one time, the optimization of the performance slopes down, this is due to the way bandwidth operates as well as the network hardware’s limitations.

The connection speed of a Wi-Fi network operates at peak rates by supporting endpoints. For example, a laptop that utilizes the 802.11g standard and connected to an 802.11n router connects using the speed of the 802.11g laptop. In other words, to be able to function at the most optimal level, both devices need to cater to the same standard.

The Role of ISPs in Network Speed

How an internet connection performs on a particular home network often draws the line when it comes to end-to-end network speed. Although most of the residential networks cater to file sharing inside the home suing speeds of up to 20 Mbps, the average lower speeds provided by the internet service providers are utilized by the Wi-Fi clients for connection.

A lot of ISPs deliver various internet service levels. You have to remember, though, that if you have a faster connection, the more expensive it will be.

The Network Speed’s Increasing Importance

Due to music and video streaming gaining popularity, connections that are high speed are deemed by its users to be of high importance. This makes sense because you may be paying for streaming service subscriptions like Hulu and Netflix. However, all these subscriptions would be a waste of your network and internet connection doesn’t catch up to even the required minimum speeds.

Additionally, this also applies to stream apps for videos. If you’re watching TV through Apple TV, Roku, and such, your viewing time may be adversely affected if you don’t have a sufficient network speed. Buffering and poor quality of videos also affect your overall viewing experience because of a slow connection.

To demonstrate this, keep in mind that Netflix prescribes 1.5 Mbps for the speed of the broadband connection. However, if you want to watch a Netflix show on a higher quality, you need to have higher speeds as well. Netflix requires 25 Mbps to get Ultra HD quality, 5.0 Mbps to watch in HD quality, and 3.0 Mbps for standard or SD quality.

Testing Your Network Speed

Your ISP typically provides an online service for speed testing. You just have to log into your account, check out the page for connection speed, and then ping your service. This process can be done repeatedly during the day so you can find out your internet speed’s average benchmark.

Moreover, if your ISP doesn’t have a speed test, you can always go online and check out several free internet speed services.

Emil S.

Emil is a Data & Design Specialist with a degree in BS Information System, specializes in Admin Support & Creative Design.

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