When is a wireless connection faster than a wired one?

When one’s a lot newer than the other. Wireless technology has come a long way since the early 2000s when most devices were able to communicate at 1-2 megabits per second. Even then, it was common for wired devices to communicate at 100 megabits per second (at least in theory… most device weren’t fast enough to communicate with their own hard drives that quickly.)

Wireless technology grew faster than wired technology, in part because wired technology for homes and small businesses had already reached the point where they really didn’t need to be faster. Most networks top out at 1000 megabits per second, and where internet speeds (even today) barely top out at 50 megabits per second and the fastest home hard drives won’t read faster than about 500 megabits per second… it just seems like bragging rights to go much faster than that.

In the meantime, wireless networks grew both in theory and in reality. The 802.11g standard from a decade ago would still serve us today at 54Mbps, that is if you could actually get those speeds. Wireless technology has always been very dependent on distance and strong signals. However, it’s gotten easier to understand how to really maximize a signal for wireless, using large antennas on the router and multiple data streams.

The result is that if you are running the latest 802.11ac router, you could theoretically reach the astounding speed of 6,666 megabits per second, six times faster than an average wired signal could take you. Sure there’s 10-Gig Ethernet, with its promised 10,000 megabits per second, but no one has that in their home. In fact, you’ll never really reach 6,666 at home either, but it’s worth noting that at the very least it’s possible: your wireless connection could actually go faster than your wired one.