There can be two types of computer networks depending on the physical medium such as wired network and wireless network.
It is true that the names itself suggest that they are different but there are several other factors based on which these two networking technologies can be differentiated.
Read this article to its entirety in order to know about all the significant differences between wired and wireless technology in computer networking.
In This Article
- A wired computer network is more reliable than the wireless computer network since there is no outside interference in the signals.
- The wired computer network is best suited for short-distance data transfer but in comparison a wireless computer network is preferred for long distance data transfer.
- The speed of data transfer in a wired computer network is much faster in comparison to the speed of data transfer in a traditional wireless computer networking.
Wired vs Wireless Technology – The 21 Differences
1. Fundamental Difference
In a wired computer network, wires and cables such as Ethernet or optical fiber are used to connect the devices to each other.
The devices in these computer networks typically use electrical signals to transfer data between the interconnected devices and computer systems.
On the other hand, just as the name suggests, in a wireless computer network there is no wire or any other type of physical media used to connect two devices in it.
It typically uses high energy radio frequency waves for linking and will usually have pretty strong sensors for that and other wireless devices use infrared waves or electromagnetic waves.
2. Need of Antenna
In a wired computer network there is no need for any antenna to send or receive signals or data between the systems connected in the network.
On the other hand, the essential component of the wireless network is the antenna without which data signals cannot be communicated.
3. Propagation Delay
The wired connectivity in a wired computer network guarantees lower propagation delay.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network there is high propagation delay which is usually the result of some other kind of interference.
4. Security and Reliability
The wired computer network is more reliable since these are more secure.
On the other hand, the wireless computer networks are less reliable because they are less secure.
The installation of the computer systems in a wired network is not easy because it needs to be hard wired.
This is quite a hassle and takes a lot of time as well.
On the other hand, it is quite easy and quick to install the computer systems and start running them on a wireless network.
6. The Cost Factors
The wired computer networking is relatively less expensive due to fewer and cheaper hardware in comparison to a wireless computer network.
However, the cost of installation along with maintenance is also very high in this case.
On the other hand, the hardware devices required to set up a wireless computer network is pretty costly.
However, the overall cost of installation and maintenance is low.
7. Devices Used
The specific types of devices used in a wired computer network to connect the computer systems are hubs, switches and others.
On the other hand, the different devices required to set up a wireless computer network are access points, wireless routers, and others.
A wired computer network can be of different types such as LAN or Local Area Network, MAN or Metropolitan Area Network, WAN or Wide Area Network, HAN or Home Area Network and more.
On the other hand, the computer systems in a wireless network can be connected to each other wirelessly in different ways such as via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and different types of Cloud computing.
9. IEEE Standard
For a common wired Ethernet LAN computer network the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or the IEEE standard is IEEE 802.3.
On the other hand, the IEEE standards for a Wireless LAN or WLAN computer network are IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, and IEEE 802.11g.
10. Communication Mechanism
In a wired computer network the Ethernet cables used typically support Full Duplex or FDX mechanism for communication.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network the WLAN supports Half Duplex or HDX communication mechanism.
11. Collision Detection
The systems in the wired computer networks typically use Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection or CSMA/CD for detecting collisions within the network.
On the other hand, in the wireless computer network the systems and devices use Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance or CSMA/CA to steer clear of collisions within the network.
The interconnected computers in the wired network transfer data with low or no noise.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network the computers interlinked send high noise signals.
13. Access to Network
In a wired computer network, physical access is required while, in comparison, in the wireless computer network proximity is necessary in order to access the network.
14. Performance and Data Transfer Speed
In a wired computer network the performance is much better since the data is transferred much faster through the wires connecting the devices in the network.
The data transmission speed or bandwidth in a wired computer network is usually 1000 MB/s when Fast Ethernet technology is used and about 100 MB/s while using traditional Ethernet.
On the other hand, the data transmission speed in a wireless computer network is usually very slow.
The maximum bandwidth that a wireless computer network can offer is around 11 MB/s but the 802.11a and the 802.11g offer a speed of up to 54 MB/s.
15. Mobility and Expansion
The systems and devices connected in a wired computer network are literally immobile or difficult to move and it is also very difficult and laborious to expand this network.
However, a wired computer network can surely be expanded by using additional hubs and switches along with the cables used in it but it is limited.
On the other hand, the mobility of the system connected in a wireless computer network is much higher in comparison to the systems connected in a wired computer network.
It is also quite quick and easy to add additional systems in order to expand the wireless computer network using the access points or by connecting the base stations.
16. Need for Signal Modulation
In a wired computer network there is no need to modulate the signals to communicate between the devices connected in the network.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network the signals that are especially in the form of electromagnetic waves need to be adjusted with a signal of high frequency in order to communicate with different devices connected within the network.
17. Long Distance Communication
In a wired computer network, though intercontinental communication is done through underwater cables, it is not suitable for long distance communication.
This is because larger the size of the cables, the higher is the chance of the quality of the signals received to be poor.
On the other hand, since there are no cables used at all in a wireless computer network, there is no chance of a drop in the quality of signals.
Therefore, this type of network is best suited for long distance communications over interconnected devices and computer systems.
The wired computer network is less complex in comparison to the wireless computer network.
On the other hand, the technology and working process of the wireless computer network is much more complex than a wired computer network.
19. Channel Interference
In a wired computer network there is no channel interference since data travels through special wires. So, one does not affect the other that may result in a loss in the signal power.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network, there is a high chance of channel interference due to the impediments between the wireless receiver and transmitter.
It can be due to the reflection from the walls, the bad weather conditions or others that may result in poor signal quality.
20. Quality of Service
The quality of service in a wired computer network is pretty high due to the high quality cables used in connecting the devices with each other and the technological advancements.
On the other hand, the quality of service of the wireless computer networks is quite poor due to delays and jitters in setting up a connection, and the failure of the router may result in the failure of the entire network.
The wired computer network offers several benefits such as higher data transfer rate, high reliability, higher security and noise immunity.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network setup the notable benefits offered are hassle free installation and use due to no cables, greater mobility and better management.
Which is More Useful – Wired or Wireless Technology?
The wired computer network and a wireless computer network come with their significant and different set of advantages and disadvantages.
Therefore, it is pretty hard to say which among the two is more useful.
In fact, in the modern communication scenario, both the wired and wireless networks are used side by side for optimal results.
Still, based on the list of differences above it can be said that it entirely depends on the needs and preferences of the users.
Since cables and wires are required to transfer data in a wired computer network between the devices, it looks cumbersome and difficult to manage.
On the other hand, since the wireless computer networks use radio waves to transmit data, it looks pretty clean and organized.
Therefore, if you are looking for a hassle free operation, a wireless computer network should be your first preference.
A system in a wireless computer network can be located far from the router but still can stay connected to it and perform as desired if access points are used.
This will amplify the signals easily so that there is no drop in its performance.
It was thought before that wireless technology cannot offer a performance at par with a wired computer network and it was true due the limitations that existed in this technology.
However, over time with the continual improvement in this particular technology, the limitations are removed and things have really changed significantly for the better.
Take the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard of computer networking for example.
It has eliminated the differences in speed of data transfer as well as the security lacunae to be considered as good as a wired computer network.
As said earlier, there are different benefits offered by the wired and wireless computer networks and at this point it is time to look at them.
There are different benefits offered by wireless computer networking which is why businesses today prefer it over wired networking.
A few specific benefits offered by a wireless computer networking are:
- Convenience in accessing the resources of the network from any point within the coverage area of the network or via any Wi-Fi hotspot
- Mobility which saves the users from being tied to their working desk at all times
- Productivity since it promotes collaboration among the users who are motivated to get the given task quickly
- Quick and easy setup since there is no string cables to deal with
- Expandability is easy and quick as well since you will not need any additional wiring for it
- Security since the technological advancements offer stronger and more effective security protections and
- Lower cost because the wireless networks do not need wiring expenses.
In comparison, the wired computer network, on the other hand, offers several other advantages than those mentioned above. These are:
- This is a more durable technology
- It will work for years to offer a much higher cost to benefit ratio
- It can handle larger bandwidth and
- The response time is pretty quick.
However, there are a few noteworthy downsides of a wired computer network such as:
- It is hard to retrofit
- It does not allow remote management
- It lacks interoperability
- It does not allow custom settings since these can be configured by the company engineers only
- It takes longer time to install and
- It lacks flexibility.
However, if you use wireless connectivity in every segment of the network then you can expect to have much longer delays.
A look at the working process of the two technologies will also clear things out a lot.
In a wired network, the message to be transmitted is received from the sources and with the help of the transducers it is changed into electrical signals.
These electrical signals are then transferred from the transmitter to the receiver through the transmission lines or the cables.
On the other hand, in a wireless computer network the first part of receiving the message signal and conversion of it into electrical signals by the transducers is the same.
However, after that, the signal is modulated with a high frequency signal which is then transformed into waves and transferred by the antenna.
The antenna of the other device receives this signal in the form of waves, changes them into electrical signals and demodulates it to take out the message signal from it.
Therefore, after going through all these, it is probably clear to you that it is useful to choose and use both these technologies in a computer judiciously.
This will help you to achieve the optimal results because, in general, cables are better for secure data transfer but there may be sharing issues.
On the other hand, in the wireless setup things are hassle free but then data security is low.
And, most importantly, if you want to expand and do business across the globe it is much better to use a wireless network for communication which is what most of the businesses today are doing.
Therefore, everything boils down to your needs and preferences.
So, as you can see, the wired computer connection offers a different set of benefits as compared to the wireless computer network.
With the knowledge gained about the other differences between them, it will surely be easy to choose the most suitable one for your use or utilize both for best results.