Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection whereas the Ethernet cable is a wired connection that needs to be plugged in directly to the computer. The popularity of Wi-Fi is unmatched as it allows users to use the internet on some of their favorite portable devices such as mobile phones and IPads. Ethernet cable on the other hand restricts movement but provides high-speed internet connection as it is free of disruption due to direct connectivity. High-speed internet services like those via Spectrum One plan or by other ISPs work well both wirelessly and with an ethernet cable. Therefore, users should carefully choose a package that allows them to use both, Wi-Fi and ethernet efficiently when needed. 

Wi-Fi vs Ethernet Speed

Ethernet cables provide a much faster internet connection than a wireless network. The advancements in wireless technology have led to the invention of Wi-Fi 6 which offers a speed of 9.6 Gbps. This is the maximum speed that is shared by all devices. An ethernet cable, on the other hand, has a maximum speed of 10 Gbps and is utilized by only one device the cable is attached to, therefore the speed is unmatchable. The wire is attached directly to the system which allows a consistent and stable connection without any disruption, and so the latency rate is much lower compared to wireless connections.

The speed of the ethernet cable is dependent on the type of cable used. The latest Cat6a cable offers 10 Gbps whereas Cat5e can reach up to 1 Gbps.

Connection Types and Speed   

Following is a list of different ethernet cables and types of Wi-Fi with the speed they offer. 

  • Cat 5 – 100 Mbps  
  • Cat5e – 1 Gbps 
  • Cat 6 – 1 Gbps 
  • Cat6a – 10 Gbps 
  • Wi-Fi 5 – 3.5 Gbps 
  • Wi-Fi 6 – 9.6 Gbps 
  • Wi-Fi 6E -9.6 Gbps 

The highest WiFi speed of 9.6 is the maximum speed a wireless connection can offer but this speed is shared by all devices using the wireless connection. While a fairly high speed of several Gbps can be seen on single devices yet any one device will not have a full speed of 9.6 Gbps individually. An ethernet cable, however, provides a full speed of 10 Gbps to all devices attached to the modem.  

The speed of the internet should be in line with the type of connection in use. If the ISP provides a slow connection then the use of the cable cannot be optimized, therefore internet packages should be chosen carefully to maximize the use of the type of connection. 

Local internet speed is important for multiple device backup on a single server and an ethernet cable is more efficient than a wireless connection in this type of backup. Ethernet cables also improve streaming through their stable connection and high speed. 

Latency Rate of Ethernet 

Latency refers to the delay in time data takes to travel from one device to another. Less latency corresponds to higher response rates.  

Gamers require lower latency rates for real-time gaming therefore ethernet cables are preferred for gamers. However, latency is not of much importance if usage is simple web browsing or video streaming

Ethernet cable has much lower latency rates than a Wi-Fi connection owing to its high speed and less disruption while wireless connections have a little delay in response time as signals travel back and forth from the router to the device. 

Disruption in Wi-Fi Signals  

There are a number of factors that affect the speed and stability of a wireless connection. The objects coming in the way of the router to the device and the signal interference from neighboring devices all affect the efficiency of a wireless connection. 

This disruption in signal transmission can cause: 

  • Dropping of Signals: Signals drop due to the interference in connection and users may have to wait for a few seconds before signals are reacquired and the connection re-established. 
  • High Latency Rates: Higher interference leads to higher latency rates that lower the internet speed. 
  • Low Signal Quality: A highly disrupted signal weakens the signal quality which affects its speed of downloading/uploading files.

Advantages of Ethernet Cable 

Following are some of the advantages of ethernet cables. 

  • It is low in cost 
  • It has a backward compatibility 
  • It has a high speed and a reliable connection. 
  • It offers friction against disruptions. 
  • Data can be secured through common security procedures. 

Disadvantages of Ethernet Cable 

Lack of mobility. Although ethernet cables can be used with smart televisions, desktop computers, and other such devices, they cannot be used with portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. 

Ethernet cables are vulnerable to physical damage.