Aug 6, 2019 | posted by Conner Williams

WiFi vs. Ethernet: What's the difference and what do I need?

This is a great question as the two terms are often used interchangeably. But there are differences in functionality between the two. WiFi is the equipment and technology that takes an Internet signal from the wired cord that DirectLink installed inside your home. It then relays it through a special device, known as a router, to broadcast Internet signals throughout the location to connect wireless devices like smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, printers, and more. 

Ethernet, however, is a wired connection from a device to your home’s Internet connection. This is when a device is physically connected to an Ethernet port in a wall through a cord in order to access the Internet. The difference is that the device is no longer using the wireless Internet signal (WiFi) – it is instead pulling from a wired connection. 

The main difference between a WiFi connection and a wired Ethernet connection is that a device using the Internet via WiFi does not need a cord to be plugged into anything. It can access the Internet via the broadcasting of the signal throughout the home. This is convenient and useful for smaller mobile devices, handheld gaming systems, laptops, and more that you might want to move around. Other devices, like a stationary desktop computer or Smart TV, may benefit from a wired Ethernet connection. 

It’s important to remember that your home Internet’s speed and functional capacity is measured by its total bandwidth (or speed), referred to in megabits per second (Mbps) increments. Think of this number like freeway lanes: each Internet-connected device and activity on your network takes up one or more of your lanes. When the freeway starts to get full, lanes need to be freed up to make room. That means if you have too many devices on your network at one time doing too many things, one or more of them may experience lagging or slow loading times. The first devices to experience these symptoms are those on a WiFi (wireless) connection, while those on an Ethernet (wired) connection take priority and won’t be kicked off the freeway right away. Some WiFi routers have a threshold for the number of devices that they can connect to your home network at one time, so it’s important to keep that in mind as well. A new study shows that the average person has 8 devices connected to their home network at one time. 

In addition to the limitations of Internet equipment, devices themselves also have constraints for how quickly they can perform tasks. For example, some older devices may not be able to process information as quickly as newer ones and may take longer to load web pages or videos. Regardless of how fast your home’s Internet speed is, some devices can only process information requests so fast. 

To avoid these troubles, we encourage you to consider a managed WiFi solution, like WiFi Home Networking from DirectLink. Our expert team installs the equipment in the optimal location to support the most devices with the fastest, strongest WiFi signal throughout your home. It takes away the hassle and headache of managing a WiFi network and allows you to focus on more important things in life. The base model has a sleek, inconspicuous design that easily covers a 2,400 square foot home and does not have a limit to the number of devices that can be connected to the network at one time. WiFi Home Networking is backed by our expert technicians, professional remote maintenance, and 24/7 Tech Support team. Visit or call your local office for more information. 

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