To connect to the Internet we can do it by cable or wirelessly. The latter has gained weight in recent years, as it has improved considerably and there are also more compatible devices. However, the first, at least on paper, is more stable, offers greater speed and there are no problems with distance. Now, why is wired Internet sometimes slower than Wi-Fi ?
Wi-Fi vs cable, a current debate
Years go by and the debate continues. Is it better to connect via Wi-Fi or cable? Logically if we talk about mobile phones, tablets and similar devices, the only viable option we have is to connect wirelessly.
However, when it comes to a desktop or laptop computer we can connect both by cable and by Wi-Fi. Making use of one or the other option may depend on different factors, such as the distance to the router, the network card that each computer has, etc.
Now, the normal thing is to think that if we connect by cable it is better. At least on paper we should have better speed, more stability and signal quality. We are not affected by other devices that may be nearby, we do not depend on the wireless network arriving with a good signal due to the distance and other factors that make many prefer the wired method.
But this is not always the case. Sometimes surfing on Wi-Fi can be better than wired. We can achieve better speed. Why is this happening?
Why the Internet is faster over Wi-Fi than via cable
As we say, sometimes it is possible that surfing the Internet wirelessly is faster than doing it by cable. Something that can break with the logic we have in mind. There are several reasons.
Incompatible network card
One of the most common causes when we see that Wi-Fi Internet goes faster than cable is that we are using an incompatible network card. Although it is becoming less common, there are still many computers that have a network card that only accepts Fast Ethernet.
The fact that it is not compatible with Gigabit Ethernet limits the speed to 100 Mbps. Therefore, if we have contracted 300 Mbps, for example, we would only receive 100. If we have a Wi-Fi card that supports more, the speed would be higher.
Another very present cause is that the drivers are outdated. This could cause very different problems, such as the fact that our equipment detects that card as Fast Ethernet, for example.
It could also generate glitches that limit internet speed. One more reason why we can have better speed if we connect via Wi-Fi at home.
Bad or old cables
The wires are very important for a good quality of the connection. If we are using one that is in poor condition, that has an internal problem, it could lead to problems to offer maximum speed.
But even a perfectly good cable might not be the right one. This happens if we use an old one, which only allows us to connect at a maximum of 100 Mbps. For this reason, browsing through Wi-Fi would be faster if we have contracted a higher rate.
The router is the fundamental piece for us to have the Internet. If there is an error in this device we could have problems to achieve the maximum speed, stability or quality of the signal. It is possible that there are problems with the hardware of the equipment, with the connectors of the LAN cables, and therefore we have a lower speed than we should.
It is convenient to have the router in good condition, always updated and with all its connectors clean. Any problem both at the firmware and hardware level could hinder the proper functioning and cause errors that are reflected in the speed.
Bad configuration at the software level
Finally, one more reason that cable Internet is slower than Wi-Fi is when we have a bad configuration at the software level. We may have limited the connection speed to 100 Mbps, for example. We can easily change this. In the case of Windows 10, which is the most used operating system at the desktop level, we can go to Settings, Network and Internet, Network Connections and there select the corresponding network. We have to right click and enter Properties and we click on Configure and Advanced Options.
Once we are inside, we must click on Speed and duplex and make sure that the Automatic option is checked or, failing that, 1 Gbps Full Duplex. A common mistake is that we have the limitation set to 100 Mbps and that is why cable Internet is slower than Wi-Fi. Simply by changing this parameter we could notice important changes.
It is important that if we notice speed problems in the network we analyze the configuration. We must take into account possible mistakes that we have made.
Connected by cable to another device
We have many devices that can help improve wireless connectivity and bring the Internet to other parts of the home. But these devices, or at least many of them, are also going to allow us to navigate via cable. However, the signal does not always arrive correctly and that can translate into performance failures.
If we have speed problems and we are connected by cable to a PLC device or Internet repeater, it may be because those devices are not receiving the signal correctly. That may be the reason why if we navigate wirelessly directly by connecting to the router or another access point, we do have more speed.
Therefore, these are some of the reasons why the Internet can go faster on Wi-Fi than on cable. If we think about logic, we can intuit that wired will always go better, but as we have seen, it does not always happen. We must therefore detect what the reason may be and in this way look for possible solutions to ensure that we navigate in the best possible conditions.