Sure, WiFi is easy, convenient, and simple — but is it really the best option? You may be surprised to learn that there are any other options for connecting to the Internet. If that’s the case, listen up: Ethernet may be calling your name.
In the days before WiFi, people had to actually use network Ethernet cables to connect their computers to the world wide web. Many people still do. And it’s not because they’re dinosaurs or Luddites. Ethernet cables actually offer many benefits over WiFi, including:
- Speed: Ethernet cables come in different “categories” that indicate their speed and frequency max capacities. Cat5 cables can transfer up to 10Mbps at 100 MHz, while Cat5e cables can achieve 1Gbps and 100MHz. The newer Cat6 cables get even more juice, with maximum speeds of 10Gbps and 250 MHz frequencies. Can your WiFi do that?
- Security: One look at the news is all you need to know that WiFi access points can be easily hacked and your information quickly stolen or compromised. Not so with Ethernet. Since these are actual physical cables, it’s much more difficult for villains to tap in and access private information.
- Reliability: Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in the middle of a very important cat video when all of a sudden your WiFi cuts out. That’s much less likely to happen with Cat5e cables or any level of Ethernet because, again, there’s a physical connection supporting your network.
Of course, there are some downsides, too. Not everyone likes running a 500 ft Ethernet cable all the way around their house just to watch some Netflix. However, if you’re into real-time gaming that requires quick reactions, or you’re transferring or storing very sensitive files, or you just can’t risk dropping a call again — these may be signs that it’s worth your while to invest in some Ethernet connections.
Which kind to get? That depends on your needs and budget. Cat5e cables are a good compromise between the cheap 5 and the speedy 6 that work well with most devices. However, technology is always evolving. If you want to stay ahead, look for a Cat6a or even Cat7. Then get surfing (on the web, that is)!