Can you use a Ethernet cable for Wi-Fi?
Connecting to the internet is a crucial part of everyday life in the 21st century, but there still remains numerous ways to make this connection. WiFi is now ubiquitous in our homes and workplaces, and as the name suggests, it doesn’t require any cables to connect one device to another. Traditionally, ethernet cable had been the go-to option when it came to connecting to the internet, but the rise of WiFi doesn’t mean it’s been made redundant. In fact, ethernet cable can still boast some major advantages over WiFi.
What is an Ethernet Cable?
Ethernet cables – which fall into categories such as Cat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6e and fibre optic – are cords used to transmit data between a source and a destination. The Cat 5/6/6e have been in operation for over 20 years now and rely on twisted copper cables to transmit data. Fibre optic is a more recent innovation, one which relies on light signals to bounce data signals down the cable. Due to its relatively recent introduction to the market, fibre optic ethernet cables are the market leader in terms of speed and reliability. For example, fibre optic cables can reach speeds of up to 100Gbps over long distances, but Cat 6e will struggle to top 1Gbps over a distance of 100m.
Can You use Ethernet Cable for WiFi?
Whilst a truly wireless WiFi connection relies on nothing more than a wireless signal being transmitted from a router, it’s more than possible to use an ethernet cable to connect to a WiFi internet service. As long as you have access to the wireless router, you can plug an ethernet cable directly into the router and connect this to your device e.g. a laptop. And, by hardwiring the internet connection in this method, this will bring your connection a number of benefits:
- Speed: the most noticeable benefit of using an ethernet cable to connect to WiFi can be observed in the network speeds. As there are no holdups to the data transmission – such as being converted to wireless signals and then decoded back to the target device – your data traffic is more direct and much quicker.
- Security: WiFi networks, particularly public ones, come with a long list of security concerns as they can be accessed via external devices. However, accessing data transmitted over ethernet requires direct access to the physical device connected to the cable, and this is much more difficult to achieve.
- Transfer quality: wireless connections are prone to signal disturbances and electromagnetic noise, so your internet connection can often freeze or suffer lag. With an ethernet cable being used as your connection method, though, these disturbances are significantly reduced. As such, your connection to the internet is more reliable.
Ethernet over Wireless?
WiFi remains the modern choice for internet connections, but it’s important to bear in mind that ethernet cables can still serve a vital purpose. For example, if you are experiencing WiFi issues then having a supply of ethernet cables on hand will instantly allow you to maintain your productivity. Additionally, if you have no requirement for a long distance connection but you value speed, plugging your device directly into your router with an ethernet cable is perfect.