Why wired Ethernet may help you achieve Gigabit speeds

Why wired Ethernet may help you achieve Gigabit speeds

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The ways in which we use the internet are changing, with devices such as household appliances increasingly being connected up and more people than ever now streaming bandwidth-heavy videos during their leisure time.

Previously, households and businesses have been reliant on their broadband speeds when it came to how fast and reliable their internet connection was. However, it now seems as though Gigabit speed could soon be a reality for many if not most internet users.

This is likely to be a real boon when it comes to using new technology like virtual reality and the Internet of Things - even for having tools like Amazon's Echo in each room.

But anyone who has assumed that their WiFi will be enough to power this 1,000 megabits per second revolution may want to think again.

Writing for Speedtest.net, internet metrics company Ookla's Isla McFetta warned that while Gigabit is coming, it won't be particularly simple to connect up at networking level. What's more, wired Ethernet connections are likely to perform much more effectively than WiFi.

Indeed, she said wired networks will always be faster and more secure than wireless, as well as less vulnerable to drop-outs, meaning Ethernet is really the only way to achieve these aspirational Gigabit speeds.

"While WiFi technology is catching up, you'll still likely see better speeds if you plug that Cat 6 Ethernet cable directly into your computer," Ms McFetta commented.

The expert recommended Cat 6 for the highest speeds and less crosstalk, as well as for future-proofing if you're making an investment on new cables anyway. Cat 5e should be able to handle Gigabit too, though.

Of course, Ethernet isn't always going to be possible. Take devices like tablets, for instance, and some new printers. You'll need to use WiFi for those. Where Ethernet isn't an option, Ms McFetta had some tips for making WiFi perform more effectively and at faster speeds.

She recommended sitting as close as possible to a router and using a 160 MHz channel, four stream 802.11ac with 5GHz frequencies on non-overlapping channels. It's also worth keeping an eye on encryption slowdowns, with Temporal Key Integrity Protocol on by default on some routers that can slow down Gigabit offerings. Advanced Encryption Standard is likely to be better.

Recent analysis by Viavi Solutions showed that 219 million people globally now have Gigabit internet available to them, equating to around three per cent of the world's population.

The highest number of people with Gigabit internet access was in the US, where 56.4 million people can enjoy such super-fast speeds.

Of the current Gigabit installations, 91 per cent are based on fibre, while 3.65 per cent are cellular and WiFi makes up less than one per cent.

Viavi Solutions' chief technology officer Sameh Yamany said: "2016 was a turning point for gigabit connectivity, as many cities around the world reached the point whereby Gigabit internet was available to most of its residents. 

"Yet the Gigabit revolution shows no signs of cooling down in 2017. As bandwidth increases, so does consumer appetite for it."

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