Perhaps I’m being mean but I think ‘Wi-Fi Snail’ is the perfect mascot for the NBN. All of that Fibre Optic bandwidth being squeezed out at Wi-Fi’s inherent slow & unreliable speed … it’s ridiculous! I’m not saying that Wi-Fi is not capable of distributing the NBN at top speed – but very few people have the equipment to achieve it.
Let’s review the facts …
The Internet is a series of tubes (according to Alaskan Senator “Techno” Ted Stevens) – actually it’s not, but let’s use Ted’s analogy to make our point.
Most NBN installations are set-up with a Wi-Fi router to distribute the signal around the home. This is where our 50Mbps – 100Mbps Fibre Optic ‘tube’ gets clamped down to the Wi-Fi throughput which (in most cases) is far less than advertised – PLUS it’s shared amongst all of your internet enabled devices in the household. Phones, Set-top Boxes, Tablets, iPads even your new internet enabled fridge. And the wireless frequency (2.4GHz or 5GHz) is clogged with other traffic – your neighbour’s Wi-Fi, your cordless phone, garage door openers & any other enabled device.
In real-world terms your ACTUAL download speed is likely to be 20Mbps for 802.11a & g devices (advertised as 54 Mbps) and 40-50 Mbps for 802.11n (advertised from 150Mbps to 600Mbps) … and don’t forget it’s SHARED.
Another fact that is often omitted is Wi-Fi doesn’t like walls! Or doors, windows, benches – in fact pretty much any building material can absorb or reflect signals reducing their strength.
By how much?
It varies largely dependent on the type & density of the building materials, but for those living in lovely Ballarat Victorian homes, the figures are not good … a solid brick wall can reduce the signal strength by 14-dB which is about 80%. So you won’t be watching Netflix in the bedroom if your router is at the other end of the house.
There are options.
If you have plenty of money there is new Wi-Fi technology (such as 802.11ac) that is promising higher speeds of around 70 – 100+ Mbps (Real Life)
Of course you will STILL be sharing this speed & it’s not going to bore holes in your solid brick walls, so signal strength degradation will still be an issue.
You’ll also be sharing your home with something like THIS!
It’s the latest in Wi-Fi gadgetry, but that doesn’t make it any less UGLY … And the price tag of $500 plus is not that attractive either!
They claim speeds of 1000 Mbps + but of course that’s without walls.
Despite what all of the techno boffins tell you – a well designed cable network servicing the major areas of your house is still the most efficient way of sharing an internet connection. You can incorporate Wi-Fi access points where needed, but your computer(s), media player & data storage are best connected using Cat-6 cable leading back to a router that directly connects to the Uni-D port on your NBN Network Termination Device.
This way, all of your Internet ‘tubes’ connect at maximum capacity & you’ll have a far more satisfying (and future proof) connection.