Difference between Ethernet and Wifi

Difference between Ethernet and Wifi

Ethernet and Wi-Fi may share some similarities, but there are notable differences that set them apart. When it comes to data transfer, Wi-Fi relies on radio waves, whereas Ethernet utilizes bulk Ethernet cable to communicate with multiple devices at once. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important to understand the distinctions between these two connectivity options.

How do you connect to the internet? Do you use a Wifi connection or an ethernet? Well, WiFi connections are mostly used in household applications where the needs are pretty basic. However, when it comes to high-speed, secure, and high-performance access to the internet, ethernet connections are preferred.

Difference between Ethernet and Wifi

What is WiFi?

WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity. It defines any network based on the 802.11 standards and allows computers and devices with the required wireless capacity to communicate via radio waves with other computers or devices. IEEE established the 802.11 network standards, which describe how two wireless devices interact over the air.

WiFi is a small network where smartphones, computers, android wifi tablet pc, or other networkable devices are connected to each other wirelessly within a small range and share the Internet using hotspots. WiFi uses radio frequency waves for wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. The size of a WiFi antenna is very small and can be put on small routers. WiFi can be used to connect printers, computers, gaming consoles, mobile and so on.

Difference between Ethernet and Wifi

A Wifi router transmits signals to nearby devices which receive them and sends back a radio signal which is transmitted across the internet via an ethernet cable or a fiber optic cable.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a widely used LAN standard. It is defined under IEEE 802.3 standards. It is very easy to understand, implement, and maintain and is a low-cost implementation. It generally uses Bus Topology but other topologies can also be used. It is part of the Physical and Data Layer of the OSI model.

Ethernet is a set of technologies and protocols that are used primarily in LANs. It was first standardized in the 1980s by IEEE 802.3 standard. IEEE 802.3 defines the physical layer and the medium access control (MAC) sub-layer of the data link layer for wired Ethernet networks. Ethernet is classified into two categories: classic Ethernet and switched Ethernet.

  • Classic Ethernet is the original form of Ethernet that provides data rates between 3 to 10 Mbps. The varieties are commonly referred to as 10BASE-X. Here, 10 is the maximum throughput, i.e. 10 Mbps, BASE denoted the use of baseband transmission, and X is the type of medium used. Most varieties of classic Ethernet have become obsolete in the present communication scenario.
  • A Switched Ethernet uses switches to connect to the stations in the LAN. It replaces the repeaters used in classic Ethernet and allows full bandwidth utilization.
Difference between Ethernet and Wifi

IEEE 802.3 Popular Versions

There are a number of versions of the IEEE 802.3 protocol. The most popular ones are −

  • IEEE 802.3 − This was the original standard given for 10BASE-5. It used a thick single coaxial cable into which a connection can be tapped by drilling into the cable to the core. Here, 10 is the maximum throughput, i.e., 10 Mbps, BASE denoted the use of baseband transmission, and 5 refers to the maximum segment length of 500m.
  • IEEE 802.3a − This gave the standard for thin coax (10BASE-2), which is a thinner variety where the segments of coaxial cables are connected by BNC connectors. The 2 refers to the maximum segment length of about 200m (185m to be precise).
  • IEEE 802.3i − This gave the standard for twisted pair (10BASE-T) that uses unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper wires as physical layer medium. The further variations were given by IEEE 802.3u for 100BASE-TX, 100BASE-T4, and 100BASE-FX.
  • IEEE 802.3i − This gave the standard for Ethernet over Fiber (10BASE-F) that uses fiber optic cables as a medium of transmission.
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Comparison between Ethernet and Wifi

The following are some of the important difference between Ethernet and Wifi.

Key WiFi Ethernet
Concept WiFi is a wireless network to connect nearby devices to each other and shares the internet via hotspots. Ethernet is a LAN network standard used in wired LAN.
IEEE Standard WiFi is based on IEEE 802.11x specifications where x is the WiFi version. Ethernet is based on IEEE 802.3 specifications.
Connection Devices can be connected without wires and without ports. Ethernet is wired and hence no mobility.
Flexibility WiFi is highly flexible. Ethernet is not flexible.
Efficiency WiFi is less efficient and has latency in network connections. Ethernet is more efficient and provides more speed.
Installation It is easy to install and deploy a WiFi setup. Installing and deploying an Ethernet network is a relatively difficult and time-consuming process.
Encryption WiFi data is encrypted during transfer. Data is not required to be encrypted during transfer in Ethernet.

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WiFi networks are fast-hold, but not as fast as ethernet connections. Because radio signals are more susceptible to hindrances such as walls, trees, furniture, people, etc. The signal integrity is lost in transmission via radio waves.

However, ethernet connections use a dedicated domain in the form of wires to transmit signals which do not suffer hindrances.

WiFi technology literally transmits signals across an environment for anyone to connect. While you will need a password to connect to it but hackers can easily connect without a password and can spy on you or can steal your data.

Ethernet connections are far safer as compared to their counterparts due to the fact that the data is safely transferred across devices, routers, and switches via dedicated cables. Anyone who wants to connect to your ethernet connection will need to physically connect their device to your ethernet cables – which is very unlikely.