A study conducted by Epitiro, a company which specialises in benchmarking quality of broadband and Internet connections, has shown that on average, broadband customers see an average speed decrease of around 30% when using Wi-Fi to access the Internet.
The company recruited over 14,000 consumers in the USA, UK, Italy and Spain to test broadband performance when connecting over a wireless and wired connection to the broadband router. The average speed drop was 31.6%, with the UK faring best with a 26.5% drop whilst Italy came in worth with a 40% drop in speeds. The study did not however look to understand the difference between countries.
Whilst speeds might be lower, the testing showed that this doesn't necessarily affect the quality of experience (QoE) when using the connection. Whilst throughput decreases, this isn't necessarily notable when browsing the web or using e-mails, but can be if downloading files. Equally, wireless connections saw an increase in latency and jitter (a variance in latency) when compared with wired connections, but this only affects specific applications such as online gaming or Voice over IP telephone calls using services like Skype.
"Our data shows that connectivity over Wi-Fi degrades broadband performance considerably in typical circumstances. Consumers who are experiencing performance issues with Wi-Fi should take steps to improve their home environment or connect directly via wired ethernet."JP Curley, (CTO) Epitiro
Of those surveyed, 56% were connecting wirelessly whilst 44% used a wired connection. Unfortunately, wireless connectivity is on the rise, which means more people may start to see the impact of saturation on their network. As the number of wireless networks and the number of computers and mobile phones using wireless connectivity increases, there becomes less bandwidth available to use for each device. A quick check here and over 25 wireless networks are showing up as available.
Newer devices can be configured to automatically detect when congestion is seen and switch to using a different wireless channel to avoid problems which can help, but it is only a matter of time before the air-waves are completely full, and these problems become worse.