Wireless networks can be found pretty much everywhere, they’re in your home, on your mobile, on laptops, in games consoles, local cafes, banks and even some airplanes now offer internet access using wifi. But what do you do when wifi is stretched to its limits, are there any alternatives? Quite a few as it happens.
Suffice to say that wifi has evolved to become a familiar technology but as a result more and more of us are also becoming familiar with its many shortcomings, such as the limited reach through walls (especially those built with chicken wire) and the performance or reliability detriment experienced when in a congested environment (i.e. lots of home wifi networks running in the same area).
Naturally there are plenty ways to mitigate some of these problems, such as by using wifi extenders, switching to one of the new 802.11ac (5GHz) based Gigabit wifi routers (there’s less congestion in the 5GHz band but that will only last so long) or holding out for the first 60GHz capable WiGig (802.11ad) devices that should run over shorter ranges but offer faster speeds (7Gbps).
But what if your device isn’t wifi enabled or extending the signal simply doesn’t deliver an effective result? Perhaps you’re simply scared of wifi “radiation” rotting your brain (unlikely but quite a few people do keep tin foil hats to hand just in case)? In those situations you might want something different.
The first and most obvious choice of all involves complimenting or scrapping your wifi in favour of a trusty old wired local area network (LAN). Most computers and network capable devices, except tablets and smartphones (though we have a solution for them too – explained later), include a standard rectangular RJ45 Ethernet/LAN socket on the back. Connecting your network into this is normally just a matter of plugging in the cable and that’s it.
The creation of a closed / wired network is not only more secure but will also deliver a network with the lowest latency and best speeds (i.e. 1000Mbps). The obvious downside to this approach is the need for cables, which can be messy and also limit your ability to surf while being mobile around the home and garden. But then almost every non-wifi solution will need cables at some point.
* Cables.. cables.. everything
Sometimes the problem isn’t so much wifi itself as the lack of supporting connectivity. A large number of older and even some modern network capable devices, such as TV set-top-boxes, do not ship with wifi support built-in.
Unfortunately these devices often reside in different rooms from your router, which makes running a long cable around your home somewhat tedious.