March 10, 2011

Wi-Fi Users Lose Up To 30% Of Connection Speed

Using a Wi-Fi connection while at home may be convenient, but going wireless also results in a significant loss of data transfer speed, claims a new study released to the public Thursday.

As part of their research, the network performance analysts at Epitiro studied more than 14,000 different Wi-Fi connections in the US, the UK, Spain and Italy. According to various media reports, the company ran a million tests of those connections between November 2010 and February 2011, and discovered a 30% decrease in exchange speeds versus fixed broadband connections.

The reason for the drastic loss of speed, according to Reuters, is "because of physical barriers and interference from devices like microwaves"¦ Epitiro said the differences are rarely visible when surfing Internet, but higher latency and bigger loss of data transferred over Wi-Fi connection could well hurt usage of online gaming, Internet telephony or video streaming."

Epitiro representative Iain Wood told BBC News that his firm was "surprised" that the speed drop-off was so high, but reiterated that the majority of users would not be able to tell the difference.

"Most of us do e-mailing and web surfing and for these things there is precious little difference between the 50Mb/s services and an 8Mb/s service," Wood said, noting that basic, day-to-day Internet surfing required relatively little data transfer.

Some popular programs could be more adversely affected though, Bristol University Professor Andy Nix told the BBC on Thursday.

"If you have a poor quality router and you are using Wi-Fi at some distance away from it, you could struggle to have a decent Skype conversation," he said.

However, Nix added that these problems can be largely solved with quality equipment and a little bit of common sense computing.

"Set up your laptop at location at home where you get a good signal," he told Reuters. "When you are far from the Wi-Fi station, on battery, and your microwave is on--the connection is not that great."

In a press release describing their findings, Epitiro also suggested that consumers should change the default channel on their routers from the default setting in order to avoid interference in highly populated areas.

They also warn that physical barriers (including walls and furniture) and other wireless devices sharing the same frequency range (including TV remotes, baby monitors, and cordless phones) could interfere with a router's signal and further reduce Wi-Fi connection speeds.


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