back to article The coming of Wi-Fi 6 does not mean it's time to ditch your cabled LAN. Here's why

IEEE 802.11ax-2021 (more commonly known as IEEE 802.11ax or, more familiarly "Wi-Fi 6") was approved on 9 February 2021, with a top speed of 1.2Gbit/sec per single stream (think "stream" as synonymous with "channel"). As seems to happen each time a new Wi-Fi technology comes out, people are yet again asking whether this is the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This months of work from home showed too....

    .... the difference between those who could afford (and were sensible enough) to install a wired network at home, and those who had to rely on WiFi only together other family members and especially in high-density areas with a lot of overlapping WiFi networks.

    It is true that a business WiFi can use better APs and be better designed, but a shared medium is always a shared medium.

    While wired PCs didn't miss a beat - as long as the internet connection wasn't a too slow one.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      Yup, and a well installed set of CAT-5 from twenty years ago will still be working properly with its Nth generation of hardware and happy with gigabit speeds, add in slinging a few fibres for uplinks and the cost per annum is very reasonable compared with corporate wifi refresh costs.

      Now that running your business on other peoples computers* is all the rage again and it's the offsite bandwidth that matters when will your average punter/desk jockey need to go faster than a gig?

      * computer bureau cloud. (if you remember the 60s you missed the best bits!)

      1. kesawi

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        In a similar position with a 14 year old house, which the original owners wired up throughout to the point that we have quite a few data points in locations that are not ideal. Definitely glad to be able to plug things in though. When we were originally looking to purchase we struggled to find properties that had structured cabling, even with new builds.

        1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          ... we struggled to find properties that had structured cabling, even with new builds

          I would suggest that "especially with new builds" would be a more appropriate description. Until you get into "high end, custom fit" new build, then the rule is "can we save 1/2p ? Yes ? Then do it !" applied to all aspects - so insulation down to the minimum the architect could get past building control, the ground floor concrete slab is unheated to ensure that your feet will always be cold, electrics will be the minimum they think people will tolerate, and communications might be a token phone socket next to the TV point in the living room.

          Had the conversation with the vendor of a new build my mother looked at a few years ago - and got the response "it's all wireless these days" - and when people did get phone lines installed, they'd have a washing line from a pole and down the side of the house because putting ducting in would have cost money. For good measure, everything in new builds is done to make maintenance (such as adding the stuff they CBA to fit) is as hard as possible - gone are the days of easily lifting a few floor boards to run cables.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            Interesting. We built houses for vacation rental in Portugal in 13/14, and had to install optical cables from the gate to each house, _and_ have it certified, even if there were no plans for fibre at the time.

          2. Sgt_Oddball

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            I've got a house of Victorian vintage and whilst I can lift the floor boards the issue then becomes that of dropping it to the basement which has become a much more challenging affair.

            That said I know that the gap between ground floor and basement is hollow so maybe... Just maybe.... It's also hollow from the first floor down. Though it probably would then mean I'd need about 20 meters of cabling to get from my office down to the basement switch.. Maybe drop 2 cables otherwise I'd end up with 2 switches before going back to the router.

            1. Lon24

              Re: This months of work from home showed too....

              Cables are good - conduits are better.

              I didn't have them and have re-cabled the house twice (first time was co-axial thin ethernet in the 90s). All a pain. Put in a plastic 25mm pipe or similar between floors or under the floorboards with a piece of string (for pull through) to discreet access ducts solves all known cabling issues and should be future-proof when you might replace cat5 with fibre or whatever.

              I'm having to do it piecemeal. Homes should now be built that way. Building standards do seem to be so last millennium.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: This months of work from home showed too....

                >Building standards do seem to be so last millennium.

                I thought similar back in 1985, but then the regulations aren't intended to facilitate maintenance; a bit like consumer tech: mobile phones, laptops, cars etc.

          3. H in The Hague

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            "the minimum the architect could get past building control ..."

            Errm, quite often there's no architect involved in these projects. And even if there is then items such as insulation may be specified by the specialist consultants rather than the architect. And even if they specify something better than the minimum there's likely to be a "value engineer" at the end of the design process to undo their efforts :(

            Too depressing, need one of these, almost time -->

            (best I could find to represent the yellow paint I'm about to slap on to the garden furniture)

          4. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            gone are the days of easily lifting a few floor boards to run cables

            Having just (more-or-less) completed the building of our own house, one of the biggest frustrations has been the builder (who took it from demolition to plastered, but we have done all our own electrics, plumbing etc.) continually saying, "but we don't do it like that".

            Floorboards (upstairs)? No, you want large sheets of tongue-and-groove chipboard. Floor down first, then install services from below (including screwing / nailing / stapling to the underside of the floor), then install ceiling. Access for when the pipes leak or a light needs moving? Pull the ceiling down, or cut an access hatch in the chipboard.

            Soldered Copper pipes instead of push-fit plastic? Especially for inaccessible spaces? Plastic is so much quicker and easier!

            You want to use sheep wool instead of fibreglass/mineral wool? Why?

            Why are you insisting on filling under the floor with wool insulation? It ends up surrounding power cables, meaning they have to be derated - and noise transmission isn't going to be solved by a bit of wool, though it would be nice to have it in the stud walls between bedrooms... oh, you don't want to do that for us. Why? Because it's a lot of work?

            Why do you want to box the attic in, preventing us accessing under the eaves? Oh, it's because you have forgotten to seal around the joists, so we're going to fail the air test.

            No, you can't connect that downpipe to the foul sewer. The local water company has a specific ban on surface water in the sewers around here and yes, I know it's a lot of work to route it around to the recovery tank, but it has to be done or we'll fail an inspection. Yes, of course the water company will notice - the sewers around here are overloaded as it is!

            It's quicker, easier and cheaper for the builder - and this is a local small builder who does three or four projects a year with a workforce consisting of about 50% family - so I hate to think what the big developers get away with.

            Well, 9.5mm plasterboard on bent tin partitions, for one I know. I well remember leaning on the dining room wall in a showhouse a couple of years ago and noticing that the picture on the wall started swinging about. We used 12mm Fermacell where solid block walls weren't possible :-)


            P.S. apologies for the ramblings and incoherency. He was a very good builder all-told, but really had to be persuaded of some things, and eyes kept on him that he didn't revert to his "old ways" when we weren't looking... I could ramble all day if you have the time to spare, oh, you don't? Maybe next week...?

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: This months of work from home showed too....

              > cut an access hatch in the chipboard.

              Had to do that under the bath, only problem the location and size needed destroyed the strength of the floorboard, a surveyor friend confirmed my suspicion - the remaining floor due to the location of the bath feet in relaton to the joists was insufficient to support a bath full of water. Fortunately, together we were able to workout how to strengthen the remaining load bearing floor and remove the point loads on the floor caused by the bath feet.

              Also got laughed at by the central heating installer as I insisted on the under the floor pipe runs from the boiler to hot water tank and radiators being insulated.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: This months of work from home showed too....

                I insisted on the under the floor pipe runs from the boiler to hot water tank and radiators being insulated

                Technically, it's a cylinder, not a tank :-)

                Yes, I've insulated as much as I can (though we don't actually have a boiler yet), the thing is that you will still want hot water during the summer, but while in the winter the heatloss from those pipes helps to warm the house (though possibly not in the areas you want warming), in the summer you really don't need that!


        2. druck Silver badge

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          Went we were looking at new builds 4 years ago, I asked about Ethernet and just got blank looks, but they said they could install double sockets with a built in USB charger for £150 each, if that would help.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            It's not just the cluelessness, it's the shameless profiteering. Presumably these are not additional sockets, they are sockets which would otherwise be standard ones. Even four years ago, a decent quality socket with USB charging slots was probably under £30 (today an MK Logic socket with 2x USB-A is under £20, £25 for USB-C and a low-brand one is maybe £10 (less in bulk to the electrician), crumbs but these days you can get a cheap double socket with USB charger and WiFi (though I'd have to be desperate to consider fitting one of those) for just £27), so £120 of that cost was pure profit because the wiring up is exactly the same unless, I suppose, they normally used 25mm backboxes and were factoring in having to fit 32mm ones which might be awkward in the typical thin stud walls found in developer-built houses.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        Wifi6 can do 300mbps of bandwidth easy, but even 100mbps cable is good enough.... I've split a Cat5e into two (100mbps uses 2 twisted pairs, Gigabit ethernet uses 4-pairs, so you can split the cable into 2x100mbps and run two networks over one cable). I didn't want to run another cable, its a faf, splitting the cable was easier.

        Network compression means it runs faster now than it did when I split the cable, as the protocols have gotten better compression. I've never needed more than that on a domestic connection.

        In this property it's full fibre + Cat5e, I have 800mbps according to Ookla speed test, but its slow as sludge.


        Zayo, Cloudflare, Amazon, Google, etc. making the internet slow and unreliable.

        The route from Thailand to the Stock Exchange in Thailand, is fun to say the least. Sometimes its fast like this: = Thailand to Thailand (Inet), FAST

        or this = Thailand to Thailand and its fast (True), FAST

        But sometimes its to Amazon or Google via Singapore, depending on the DNS. = Google Singapore, SLOW = Amazon Singapore, SLOWER = Amazon Singapore, SLOWEST

        When it routes via Singapore it is mighty crap.

        What is the point of using a content delivery network on an encrypted link, they cannot cache anything, they just add a bunch of unnecessary hops over saturated cables. My connections take a hop over to Singapore, bounce around their internal networks, then back over the SAME CABLE back to Thailand, where it finally arrives at the same server in Thailand! FFS.

        Don't get me started on the route traffic takes Thailand to China Telecom.... via 50 servers in the USA, usually timing out.


        So faster Wifi is great, they can make your page load super-quick, but Cloudflare will add 5 seconds of "checking your browser" delay to those web pages, and various CDNs will mindlessly route your traffic through bottleknecks, traffic they cannot cache because its encrypted, so what is the point of your 'faster' wifi?

        The bottleneck isn't the wifi.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Idea for Firefox

          You're pulling a HTTPS page, the DNS lists a bunch of servers, some of which are CDNs (like does).... even if the connection to the CDN *appears* to be faster, use the non-CDN IP address.


          Because the CDN isn't the end site, its a middle man, this is a https connection, the end server will still be contacted, the CDN might deliver packets faster but they are not the packets the user wants.

          Nobody wants a "Cloudflare is stalling while it connects to the end server" (which is what's actually happening when it put ups a 'checking your browser' page), they were not the page the user requested, so if there is an IP address that isn't Cloudflare then use that.

          Nobody wants Google CDN snooping on their webbrowsing, while simply adding an extra hop to the end site, sure it might appear faster to some routing algos, but that is because the hop from Google to the real website is hidden from the algo. To most routing algo's the Google CDN is the real site. It does not know its been sold a dummy. The CDN could never be faster if the same end connection still has to be made.

          So do us all a favor and cut out the CDN from the connection whenever you can.

          Ditch it for speed, ditch it for privacy, ditch it for reliabiity, ditch it because its an extra unnecessary network injected into a connection. Ditch it because the packets they deliver skew QOS algos into thinking they're delivering packets the user requested, ditch it because its akin to a man-in-the-middle attack.

          1. Security nerd #21

            Re: Idea for Firefox

            Due to the proliferation of bots on the net these days, a lot of outfits use their CDN services as a security defence layer as well (as the CDNs have the scale to see the troublesome blighters and leverage this in their products). These means the origin addresses are locked down, and you can't go directly.

            This doesn't explain the case above routing through lots of different CDN services - that just looks like rubbish network design, or maybe the ISP is taking advantage of other peoples transit ...

          2. matjaggard

            Re: Idea for Firefox

            Thankfully Firefox is used little enough that even if they did cut out CDNs it wouldn't take out the internet. It's still a terrible idea though.

          3. electricmonk

            Re: Idea for Firefox

            You really don't understand what CDNs do or why website owners use them, do you? If you did, you'd realise what a stupid idea this is. And no, Cloudflare isn't "stalling", it's doing some rudimentary checks to weed out some of the bots.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          Why in the name of goodness would you not just use a couple of vlans

        3. rg287

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          What is the point of using a content delivery network on an encrypted link, they cannot cache anything,

          Well they can - your HTTPS connection is terminated at the CDN, the CDN (hopefully) sets up an HTTPS connection to the origin. The bit in the middle is fully visible to the CDN and they cna cache at will - apart from dynamic content (obviously).

          Fair comment though that the notion of CDNing something like stock data - which is real-time and probably relatively localised (what proportion of traders play on the Thai stock exchange from outside Thailand?) is a bit bizarre.

      3. rafff

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        Twenty years ago, when I moved in to this house, I had the whole place cabled up for phone and networking. The installer asked me why I wanted a data port in the kitchen, but it has proved useful: the kitchen has the best light and the best work surface for fiddling with hardware.

        At my desk, the laptops (plural) have both wifi and wireless, and with a static IP, I have two servers keeping me toasty through the winter. Don't ask about the summer (what summer?).

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          Lucky b*******d

          We bought our house in the mid 90s, we'd looked at a few new builds and one builder had said I could could come in a lay LAN cables after their electricians had run the power and before the walls were plastered. It's cheap to do it at this point.

          Sadly the house was more expensive and not as nice as the one we eventually chose and they wouldn't have anything to do with us having networking installed. It was enough of a problem getting the wiring for the alarms systems in, the main site electricians had a habit of "accidentally" cutting any cables they didn't fit.

          So no LAN cables running everywhere. I still regret not fitting them immediately, before we moved in. And still keep looking at ways to run the cabling from the downstairs room where the routers and a switch are located up to the loft. Once it is in the loft getting to the bedrooms is easy.

      4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        Wired my house a few years ago with cheap singlemode SC fiber from Amazon & never looked back. WiFi, on a VLAN isolated from "the computer stuff", is used for IoT. Entertainment on a hardwired VLAN isolated from "the computer stuff".

        Amazingly inexpensive.

        Even armored outdoor singlemode fiber is cheap, about $1 per meter.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      I've always been a private WiFi sceptic, but I fell into the trap of the convenience of it.

      I got thinking about it again when I started getting buffering issues with Plex. After all the online shenanigans blaming Plex, routers, and God knows what else, and with none of the obscure 'fixes' fixing anything, I started playing around.

      After some fiddling, and binge-watching Kill Bill: Vol 1 (which I'd never seen) during lockdown, I realised that streaming 4K was the trigger. The fight scene in the House of Blue Leaves especially. When a lot of stuff was happening on screen, and the bitrate went up, that was it. So I wired my Firestick (where I run Plex from) and the problem disappeared.

      That was half the reason I invested in a NAS.

      Yes, there are bloody cables everywhere, and I just might get round to routing them properly. Eventually.

      But everything works now.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        Years back an IT big wig was forced\shown the door to move to a role from where he had been head of a major chains infrastructure, to the IT point of contact at one of our facilities.

        He logged a ticket saying WiFi wasn't working on a laptop (In a meeting room), I decided to make a site visit to pick it up (Billable mileage & early finish late afternoon, as it happened I didn't & went back to my hub\home site).

        No fault found with the wireless unsurprisingly, so the next day I ring him back.

        But not before my permy network guy, now reduced to site security & the only guy who knew where everything was across many sites mentioned that he knew (Installed) the WAP was right above the door to the server room/patching closet & passing through the metal framing in (Lots of) the walls, meant that anyone with a wireless connection was going to struggle at one end of the aforementioned meeting room (Connections to projector\speakers), being as it was right on the range limits without any metal in the way & the other end didn't have a snowballs chance in hell.

        Thus armed with that knowledge I informed the former big boss with 0% practical experience that there was no issue with the laptop other than its inability to connect to a signal that was weaker than 1970's British Rail tea. Dropping it off the following day further boosted my mileage expenses claim for the week, while en-route to another site, which was nice.

        My current accommodations came wired to certain parts of the house & when the basement was developed, pushed for about 12 network points to be placed in various parts of the three new rooms.

        I have a app on my phone now called SciFi scanner IIRC (due to its Tri-corder type of multipurpose functionality) to see what channels the neighbours are using\broadcasting on their router & pick one that isn't being used by anyone close to hand, when setting up a new router.

        WiFi is nice, but you can't beat a wired connection for reliability.

      2. rg287

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        My brother lived in an apartment in South London. Complained his streaming was slow, despite having a decent uplink via CityFibre. I told him to get one of the crap flat Cat5 cables that will go under the carpet without making a bump and run it through to the TV.

        What happened next will won't shock you.

        Probably improved performance for the neighbours too.

        New builds are uniformly crap, but the one thing they do seem to get right is that they've accepted that nobody wants a phone in the hallway any more and even if you did, you need power for the router, which they don't want to fit because it costs money to run wire and fit another socket. They bring the phone line/cable in next to the TV aerial socket, leaving you with half a chance that people might actually plug their TV/consoles/streaming devices in, which is handy since streaming video is basically the only way the average punter will generate a continuous, "long-lived" (more than a couple of minutes) network load. Web browsing is spiky, file downloads are generally pretty transient unless you're pulling many GBytes. But streaming can comfortably generate 10Mb/s for over an hour.

        A pox on Google and Amazon for assuming wifi-only with the Chromecast/Firestick. Especially the 4K firestick. Imposing 4K wireless streaming on people's neighbours is just cruel.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          I agree with what you say.

          I'm sure you are aware that for under £10, you can get an Ethernet-to-USB adapter to allow you to wire the 4K Firestick.

          That's how I solved it.

          1. rg287

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            I'm sure you are aware that for under £10, you can get an Ethernet-to-USB adapter to allow you to wire the 4K Firestick.

            Indeed. And I would do exactly that if I were to buy one (as it is I have the earlier 4K FireTV 2, which was a little box with ethernet rather than a stick form-factor).

            The point is though, that the average punter won't.

            If the router is behind the TV and there's an ethernet jack on the device and they have a spare cable lying around then they might bother to plug them in. But most people will jam it in the TV, find some power and then plug in their wifi credentials - even if the router is only a foot away :(

            1. quxinot

              Re: This months of work from home showed too....

              I think this tells the actual reality.

              Wireless can be 'up to' whatever blazing amazing fantabulous speed.

              In reality, it's frequently junk.

              Wires (including optical 'wires' but you know what I mean) generally give you all the performance they're rated to give.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....


      "My email doesn't work / is slow!"

      "My VPN keeps dropping"

      Nearly all of them could be traced back to Wi-Fi problems. Getting them to plug the laptop directly into the router usually solved the problems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        It's also usually easier to apply QoS rules to a wired network than a wireless one. WiFi does have QoS features (the older VMM and the newer Wi-Fi QoS Management) but it still have to fight with the medium.

        Using proper QoS become very important when you have to rely on latency-sensitive protocols like those used in VoIP and remote conference applications - as long as you have the proper devices.

        Avoiding a large download crippling your WebEx calls became far more important, both at the office and at home.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        And whilst using a wired connect solved one problem it then brings us back to the practical issues of working from home.

        The router/WiFi gizzmo is rarely where it is actually needed to be able to work on a wired connection. WiFi is used by 99% of people at home because it is wireless. Some will have bits cabled and depending on what people are doing may have more funky solutions but those are edge cases.

        The biggest issue in dense areas is overlapping WiFi coverage all fighting for bands. Bring back the adapters to put network over your ring main, all is forgiven........

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          <<Bring back the adapters to put network over your ring main, all is forgiven........>>

          Is that powerline ethernet? If so I didn't know it had gone anywhere. I've got 5 plugged in this minute.

          1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            Powerline ethernet should be taken out the back and shot - it's illegal, the vendors know it, but for various reasons the various public bodies that should have stopped it in the first place have put a lot of effort into finding reasons why it's "not my problem".

            OK if you don't care about you own use of radio, TV, internet* ... and you live at least 1/2 mile from anyone else. Otherwise it's the equivalent of putting the living room stereo up to 15 because you CBA to find a portable radio to take into the garden - but all the neighbours are stuck with your choice of noise regardless of what they might to listen to (which might be "quiet").

            1. electricmonk
              Big Brother

              Re: This months of work from home showed too....

              Blimey, the only thing missing from that ban-plt site is an explanation of how Bill Gates is using powerline networking to control our minds.

              1. Richocet

                Re: This months of work from home showed too....

                As a former telecommunications and power systems electrical engineer - this information seems credible and there doesn't seem to be anything whacky in here.

                Just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it is wrong.

            2. Annihilator

              Re: This months of work from home showed too....

              Used Powerline in the past, and when I moved house it was roughly a week before a not--immediately-nearby neighbour popped by to explain that he was an amateur radio astronomer and that our EM noise was detectable by his equipment and ruining his hobby. It wasn't his first time visiting a neighbour, and his approach to buy more compliant kit for people.

              In my case, it was a temporary measure before I installed cat6, so it was easy to resolve for him, but he showed me the graphs - bloody hell that stuff is noisy.

          2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            I got so sick of Powerline ethernet adaptors overheating & flaking out, that in the end I ran two cables from the Bonus room (Room above a garage) down into & around the garage, then down into the basement & the router.

            I don't want to hazard a guess but potentially greater than 100' run, but in one foul swoop TV streaming was flawless & could be enjoyed with a cold one.

        2. The Mole

          Re: This months of work from home showed too....

          Powerline adapters still exist and I was a big fan of them. During lockdown I got a set to connect up the summerhouse/office which had power but no ethernet. In the end I had to send them back as defective as they just couldn't keep a reliable enough signal - not sure if I was pushing the range of them or just had too much noise on the power cables. The new cat5 cable that I now have has been much more reliable.

          1. MutantAlgorithm

            Re: This months of work from home showed too....

            I did the same to get a decent connection to my works machine at the other end of the house to the router.

            My mistake was to buy a cheap pair (£30ish) at the beginning of lockdown which worked beautifully for a week and then started having sync issues almost every day. Junked those and spent £100ish on a TP-Link set later last year and they've been bullet proof ever since.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. roblightbody

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      Couldn't agree more, especially with corporate laptops which might have outdated wifi drivers/firmware!

    5. Cuddles

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      To be fair, cost really isn't much of an issue. My cabled office consists of a single ethernet cable stapled around the living room skirting board. Total installation cost was a cable, a pack of staples and five minutes with a hammer. Sure, it might get expensive if you want to have wired access points in every room, with everything neatly tidied away behind the plasterboard, but that's far from necessary, especially given that people were mostly expecting this to be a temporary situation for a few months.

      The problem very much comes down to sense. Even though it's a fundamental part of everyday life, people still seem to think that technology is something that it's perfectly acceptable, or even admirable, not to understand it in any way. It's the same attitude that used to have people giggle coyly about how they couldn't program a VCR, except that now they're doing it with critical infrastructure that seriously interferes with the ability to do their job. I work with a bunch of supposedly very intelligent people, but after 17 months of trying to explain that wireless signals can interfere with each other, every single meeting still has connections dropping out while people shout at their kids for using up all the bandwidth. Along with the equally common inability to understand that you need to actually face the microphone so it doesn't filter you out as background noise.

      This isn't complicated stuff that requires special training. It's not expensive or reliant on skilled labour. There just seems to be a very strange attitude in a large portion of the population that makes them unwilling to even try to comprehend the basic tools they use every day.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      The WiFi meshing has got a lot better over the last few years.

      As we're only temporarily where we are and the internet connection is in one of the most remote corners of the building, WiFi was the only way to go. 2 x 1200 Repeaters + 1 x 600 + 1 x DECT required in total mean that everywhere has about the same speed as our downlink.

      My biggest beef with WiFi is the shared password malarkey, I'd much prefer individual access in any managed environment and leave ad-hoc to the guest network. This is currently causing havoc at a client's network as deploying personal certs to mobile devices without an MDM is a PITA. So, guess what, everyone's I-Phone is on the guest network which, of course, restricts access to certain resources such as the mail server…

      Long term I expect WiFi and LTE to converge.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Long term I expect WiFi and LTE to converge.

        No, that's nonsense, unless you purely mean the air interface. But various versions of WiFi and various versions of Mobile have had similar Air interfaces.

        WiFi is a free connection to your broadband. You can to an extent controi how many devices use yours, but the spectrum is shared.

        LTE is designed for mobility, seamless handover between masts (bases) and CHARGING you. There is no control of contention other than refusing connections. You may not connect at all if it's busy. The spectrum is shared with an unknown number of other customers.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Long term I expect WiFi and LTE to converge.

          I'm not sure what particular part is nonsense. In terms of the radios, LTE and WiFi are already very close as I can confirm with the way handover works between repeaters in the network here. LTE has different bands because and more (licensed) spectrum than is available to WiFi. But contention is always a problem for wireless networks. It has better user management, with or without charging, but when it comes to "pico" cells you really can't tell the difference any more.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: This months of work from home showed too....

        "Long term I expect WiFi and LTE to converge."

        I don't know exactly what you mean by this, but in most of the possibilities which come to mind, I don't expect that nor would I want it. The main reason that merging is impractical is that they're run by different people and connect to different networks. I can't just start setting up my own LTE equipment without licensing it, and if I did, I'd have a nightmare of access control. LTE and 5G standards are great for their purpose, namely having a few open internet networks for large area coverage. WiFi is great for its purpose: having a radio connection option for an existing network. Having LTE which connects through a private network is a recipe for never being sure whose watching your data or whether you're on the secure one.

        As for the standards themselves, there's a lot more similarity, but this doesn't mean merging makes sense either. What does make sense is sharing stuff between standards, which can already happen. If WiFi comes up with an interesting solution to a radio communication problem, I have no doubt the next 6G standard will implement or enhance it. However, I don't think they'll ever change the two standards for public and private approach.

    7. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: This months of work from home showed too....

      When I built my current house, 30 years ago, I had salvaged several rolls of CAT3 cable (regular 4-pair inside telephone wiring) from work (we had been testing with it). I had the electrician run 2 wires from each room to the basement.

      I have never been sorry I did this (well, perhaps the placement of the boxes could have been better). I used it for wired phone lines, and then wired Ethernet. First 10, then 100 and now 1G. Yes, it works just fine for 1G with no errors (runs are less than 30m). I built a "Fortress of Solitude" home office in the basement last year, and wired that as well, to the same corner, where I have a patch panel and (surplus from work again) an HP gigabit switch. I can supply wired ethernet anywhere in the house, and my wireless access points can be placed wherever they're needed.

      Yes, wired is far better than wireless if you're working from a desk. Even the wireless is better, because there's less competition for the bandwidth. And I upgraded my ISP to 300meg fiber, so I can actually take advantage of that extra bandwidth. Never thought I'd have gigabit at home, but it sure is nice.

  2. NopetyNope

    Simple rule of thumb

    I live by a simple rule of thumb. If there's any wires at all going to the device (power, audio/monitor, etc.) then there will be an ethernet connection amongst those. If there are no other wires at all then wireless is the way to go.

    (The advent of USB-C now means I can do everything I care about well in one simple cable, which is awesome)

    1. kesawi

      Re: Simple rule of thumb

      Unfortunately a lot of static IOT devices still lack an ethernet port, but I'm definitely with you on adopting the same principle.

      Also definitely enjoying having a single USB-C cable for my laptop to connect to the dock, although when looking at various models, the lower priced laptops still seem to predominantly have separate power connectors rather than using USB-C for power. The other issue I've encountered is the dock's are supplied with short cables which don't have sufficient length to give flexibility in placement relative to the laptop. USB-C cables which can handle 100W of power are relatively more expensive.

      Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are even more awesome :)

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Simple rule of thumb

        Dell Precision 5520 here. Our IT guys informed us that the Dell USB-C docks are...worthless. They require firmware updates and even their own laptops don't always play nicely with them...they suggested I roll my own alternative.

        So, when I started WFH a year plus ago, I went to Amazon and bought:

        - A USB-3 powered 4-way hub

        - USB-3 to GigE dongle

        - DP to DVI cable

        - USB-C to DVI cable

        Sure, I have to plug in 3 connectors instead of one, but for around $50, I have two monitors and Ethernet, external camera, USB gaming headset, and keyboard (the mouse is BT). It has worked flawlessly for a year, and I'm happy to get rid of the Dell USB-C dock!

        The monitors are discarded 4:3 from work, the Logitech camera was from my junkpile, the keyboard is a Dell AT-101W (clone of the IBM Model M) and the Sades 902 gaming headset cost me $17 off Amazon and is absolutely wonderful for Teams meetings.


    What really grinds my gears.

    "Importantly the transmission medium still hasn't magically become full-duplex. Stations may get around this with some kind of trickery, but they still need to wait for the all-clear to send data. Remember that all stations and APs still hear all the transmissions. It's still a broadcast medium at the most basic." (Emphasis mine)

    This is the thing that I like to mention to people when they open up their wifi adapter and see two dozen SSIDs is what you don't see. You don't see any extra BSS's with the same SSID, less likely in a residential setting. More troubling are all the wireless clients, eg: phones, laptops, tablets, fire sticks, thermostats, so on and so forth which are also transmitting.

    I kinda wish that that there could be a WIFI equivalent to GMRS (at least here in the US, it requires a license to use). This way the educated WIFI users can get out of the quagmire that the unwashed cause in high-density environments. Where everyone buys the access point with more antennas than a spider has legs, cranks their output to 11 and start using channels like 2,3,4,7,8,9 and 10, thinking that a channel is only a signal frequency wide. And let's not start on the "wide channel" users - fuck them.

    Sure, 5GHz is a thing, and I use it everywhere I can, but it attenuates so rapidly. And for whatever reason (I forgot the reason, tbh) but a lot of the 5GHz channels overlap on Public Safety Networks, which is shitty. Sure, there's a(nother) fix for that, DFS, but for me, it is more polite to simply stay out of the DFS channels. Wouldn't want my crappy equipment to cause some PSN interference.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: What really grinds my gears.

      "I kinda wish that that there could be a WIFI equivalent to GMRS (at least here in the US, it requires a license to use)."

      Tell me, if you were placed in control of the regulator and implemented this, how would you set it up? Specifically:

      1. What does a user need to do to prove they deserve a license?

      2. How do you, if at all, get device manufacturers to keep that band in their products rather than just drop it and only support the unlicensed ones?

      3. How if at all do you restrict people from operating on licensed WiFi bands if they don't have a license?

      Point 1 is the most important to me. I can't really think of anything you would do to deserve the license over others. "Educated WiFi users" is not a category that makes much sense to me, and it seems like you're just paying for the privilege of a private band, which seems to have no public good at all since there is limited capacity in that area. I get that it's better for you, but I don't know why the regulations should be changed for that.

      1. FILE_ID.DIZ

        Re: What really grinds my gears.

        An exam and enforcement, to answer points one and three, respectively. No different than how FCC regulates amateur radio licensees or other radio frequencies that businesses use, such as licensed wireless microphone systems, two-way radio systems, radio data systems, so on and such forth.

        As for point two, if the market demands it, it would behoove a manufacturer to make the product

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: What really grinds my gears.

          In which case it wouldn't be WiFi any more… Those who want to use amateur radio for data have been able to do so for decades.

          WiFi was supposed to be available to all, or, more accurately: some clever manufacturers saw an opportunity in unlicensed spectrum, which is why the first few years were such a mess of incompatible devices.

          1. FILE_ID.DIZ

            Re: What really grinds my gears.

            What's your point that that a licensed frequency product is not called WiFi? I couldn't care less in the name of something, I'm not from the marketing department.

            Amateur space cannot be used for commercial purposes, period. Furthermore, amateur space is not "assigned" to any one licensee.

            And these last few years are even worst, but for different reasons. Today's problems are due to a proliferation of devices which use these frequencies with no way to mediate problems between different users.

            I mean, in my building, I would LOVE to be able to have our property manager include in everyone's lease agreement that for the 2.4GHz band, that only channels 1,6 and 11 are to be used and only 20MHz is to be selected. But I can't, and they probably can't either. Only through talking to other the other meatsacks in the building and teaching them some basic RF/wifi knowledge, them maybe I could get some people to come to a common understanding on how we can all be "better RF neighbors". But that's not going to happen either.

            Which is why I'd rather leave the unwashed masses behind in their cesspit.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: What really grinds my gears.

              "Amateur space cannot be used for commercial purposes, period. Furthermore, amateur space is not "assigned" to any one licensee."

              And good things those are. The bands which are assigned to a single licensee are operated by businesses which sell that access to the public. Allocating more space for a private user's ownership when we have a suitable public space in which that user can already operate is not benefiting anyone. If you have WiFi crowding problems, then you can use a wire or you can expand into the new frequencies allocated for it. 5 GHz is significantly larger than 2.4 GHz was, and we now have new bands for version 6. This doesn't solve all your problems, but it's not the responsibility of spectrum regulators to solve everything for you by taking things away from the rest of the public.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What really grinds my gears.

              >for the 2.4GHz band, that only channels 1,6 and 11 are to be used and only 20MHz is to be selected

              I see your understanding of WiFi hasn't progressed since the US originating folklore that grew up around 802.11b (do you still hide your SSID because "it makes your network more secure"?).

              There really isn't any reason not to use other frequency bands and with MiMo, overlapping doesn't really cause problems.

              It is really irritating that routers default to only using three 2.4Ghz frequency bands and are too fast to auto swap.

              I've sat in many places and watched the various ISP WiFi AP's destroy bandwidth as they jump around trying to avoid each other in a dance that can't be won. Personally, I've set my AP to use a non-standard channel (ie. one that bulk standard routers don't use and let the others perform their channel hopping dance around it.

              What is surprising is that given the importance of good channel allocation, just how few research papers there has been, on the subject of overlapping channels, with all the recent papers ie. those using 802.11g and more recent, showing little real loss.

            3. rg287

              Re: What really grinds my gears.

              I mean, in my building, I would LOVE to be able to have our property manager include in everyone's lease agreement that for the 2.4GHz band, that only channels 1,6 and 11 are to be used and only 20MHz is to be selected.

              How big is your apartment that you need 2.4GHz?

              Anyone "in a building" surely just knocks off the 2.4 entirely and uses 5GHz - faster (both bandwidth & -ac algorithms/MIMO support), less interference, more than enough range to cover kitchen diner, bedroom(s) and bathroom.

              Caveats include consumer wireless printers (almost always 2.4GHz) and oddities like Kindles, but in that case you can split the SSIDs (mynet/mynet-2) and lock everything sensible to 5GHz by simply not giving it the key to the 2.4GHz network. The stuff that is 2.4GHz-only usually doesn't need much bandwidth anyway.

            4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: What really grinds my gears.

              What's your point that that a licensed frequency product is not called WiFi?

              Well, we could use the various IEEE specifications but WiFi is easier to remember.

              It's great because it's unlicensed so no one has to ask permission and it's bad for exactly the same reasons. However, contention between neighbouring networks seems to have got better, at least in my experience – it's on the way to a managed network – via smaller but more powerful cells. I've lived in densely populated apartment buildings with well over 20 networks visible and rarely seen many problems except with dweebs who think they can manage channels better than the silicon: if you can go with 5 Ghz which does have enough bandwidth.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: What really grinds my gears.

          "An exam and enforcement, to answer points one and three, respectively."

          Slow down. That doesn't answer point 1. What is on the exam? Only people who can answer electrical engineering questions about radio equipment get their private WiFi? That's like the amateur exam. In that case, there are already amateur bands, use those. I get that you'd have a mechanism for proving whatever it is you're proving. I want to know what the qualifications would be.

          1. FILE_ID.DIZ

            Re: What really grinds my gears.

            I wouldn't know what to put on the test. I am not qualified to write tests in the least. I am no psychometrician.

            While I cannot design any test, that doesn't make what I've stated untrue about the unwashed masses using unlicensed spectrum who are doing exactly what one would expect in unlicensed space, which is why wifi is such a crap-in-shoot - especially in high-density environments.

            Over the past year I have been working with numerous colleagues who have been struggling with mediocre wireless performance within their home. Things like average 30-40ms RTTs with the occasional 200ms+ from their laptop to their home's gateway... is pathetic.

            The changes I make were generally small, rarely require purchasing additional hardware, but significant enough to resolve most of their problems and at a minimum, stabilize the latency inside the home.

            Back to my original point, by providing a licensed chuck of frequency for those qualified to use it - it can segregate those with enough training to use that space responsibly from those who clearly aren't, much like how other licensed space is used today.

            Finally, amateur bands cannot be used in a commercial application, full stop. I would anticipate a licensed chuck of frequency would be initially sought after by commercial users long before consumers pick it up, except maybe by gamers who (for whatever reason) haven't gone back to a wired connection.

            I mean, I've done plenty of wifi designs for commercial users and in complex scenarios, that can take a lot of time and effort to fine-tune. And time = money.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: What really grinds my gears.

              You have suggested the plan for a restricted WiFi band. That means that you have an idea about who should be permitted to use it. I'm not asking you for the exact writing of the exams, but for its general intent. What things would you tell the person writing the exam? How would you establish whether a given person is deserving or not.

              This is your idea. You proposed that a restriction be in place. You have to have some idea about who gets access, and even if that's just a baseline of some things that they'd be required to do, it would help elucidate your point. Without that, I only have your vague statements about the "unwashed masses", a phrase which I must tell you isn't helping your point in my mind. It sounds as if you're saying "There should be some people with the special access and I can only tell you that I'm one of them". So far, I have heard no beneficial result from such a plan other than you would get private space and you want it. All this seems to do is to take even more bandwidth from what you've admitted is an overcrowded band for the benefit of an elite class which you can't even identify. I'll vote against.

              1. FILE_ID.DIZ

                Re: What really grinds my gears.

                First off, I did not propose a restriction. What I am proposing is an upgrade. While GMRS wasn't the best analog, it was a quick example that I could come up where licensed users are granted more transmitting power and more bandwidth where GMRS and FRS overlap (except for the 467MHz interstitial frequencies... those are identical) and granted access to repeater frequencies.

                What I know is that the unregulated 2.4GHz non-ISM use is a hot mess in saturated environments because people simply believe that more power (transmitter output) and more APs is more better. They start buying these spider looking access points and place them in every corner of their home on odd-ball channels, thinking that more is always better.

                That is no different than a large group of people in a room, subdivided into smaller groups of people conversing together and slowly each smaller group starts to speak louder to overcome the din of the entire room. Eventually all the smaller group are speaking louder and louder until everyone is screaming in order to be heard over the cacophony of the room.

                That is my general impression of residential wifi today.

                First topic, a firm understanding of wifi channels and what they actually represent.

                Second topic, is related to channels are "wide" band settings.

                Third topic is location, location, location. Poor AP positioning (physical) can do a lot to destroy throughput, even in low RF saturation areas.

                Fourth topic is understanding mesh network design and understanding that wireless back haul is still shit in its current form and every form since 2007 when I tried to install my first wireless back haul. (To be clear, this is STRONGLY my personal opinion, but I think it is still an important topic nevertheless to understand everything going on behind the scenes.)

                Fifth topic is understanding that it takes two to tango. Just because your signal strength is showing strongly on your device, that doesn't mean the same is true for that device talking back to the access point. Yea, there's RSSI/RCPI that's supposed to help.

                So, there are some topics off the top of my head.

                The obverse to those points is that is what is happening with some consumers of wifi today - an arms race thinking that more power and more antennas and wider bands are going to help them with higher speeds and/or lower latency or at least maybe the ability to out scream out their next door (or many doors down) neighbor(s).

                How does one resolve that in an unlicensed space today?

                1) Does one go and talk and try to educate other meatsacks about their RF pollution?

                2) Does one foil their home over to prevent "noisy" meatsack's RF pollution who didn't take kindly to the earlier education attempt(s)?

                3) Does one abandon wifi entirely?

                4) Does one say fuckit and move to Green Bank, WV?

                Personally, I've chosen option 3 as much as I can, except for where I can't - such as our iDevices and printer and laptops when they're not docked (which is most of the time).

                Can an industry group get together and come up with an identical radio standard to Wifi, except instead of using the hot mess of an unlicensed space, carve out some licensed frequency where all participants of that space agree to the same set of rules by which all abide to with the ability to file grievances against other licensees and the ultimate penalty for failure of adherence when it causes undue interference - revocation of your license.

                That space can even overlap with another licensed/restricted space with similar terms on how Wifi overlaps the 2.45GHz ISM band, except that you have to pass a test and pay a fee.

                There you go, and I also didn't mention unwashed masses or plebs.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: What really grinds my gears.

                  Thank you. This clarified a lot for me. I remain opposed, but now that I know what you suggest, it makes more sense.

                  "What I know is that the unregulated 2.4GHz non-ISM use is a hot mess in saturated environments because people simply believe that more power (transmitter output) and more APs is more better."

                  That's part of it, but the major part in my experience is that there isn't very much of it. It has 14 overlapping channels of which the U.S. disallows 3, so it's not ideal for the use. It's not the user's fault that, decades ago, someone gave a relatively small band for unlicensed use. The larger 5 GHz band did a lot to improve this, and there has already been a third new band created for it.

                  This is, to me, the only problem that can be solved. If you didn't expand the bandwidth but you had an exam as you've described, I predict that you'd see either nobody following the restrictions or everybody using those bands and having the same level of collisions as before. If a single licensed user can set up an access point for other unlicensed users to connect to, then the ISP-supplied equipment, which represents a lot of user equipment, could be installed by licensed technicians, meaning you'd still have the same number of access points and they'd still have the positioning and contention problems. Your only hope is that basically nobody can use the band, but that only helps the few people who get licenses.

                  "How does one resolve that in an unlicensed space today?"

                  I abandoned 2.4 GHz in areas where a lot of other users were on it. I configured access points to only have 5 GHz signals running by default. Devices which couldn't support 5 GHz could still be accommodated by temporarily enabling a usually disabled network, but those are less common now. Not an ideal solution for everywhere, but fortunately I'm not a network admin.

                2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  Re: What really grinds my gears.

                  Can an industry group get together and come up with an identical radio standard to Wifi, except instead of using the hot mess of an unlicensed space, carve out some licensed frequency

                  Er, that would be the mobile phone networks and they exist already and convergence, at some point, is very likely.

                  1. Roland6 Silver badge

                    Re: What really grinds my gears.

                    >Er, that would be the mobile phone networks and they exist already and convergence, at some point, is very likely.

                    And we've been here before with LTE home cells; great if you want to pay your mobile provider for all your internal 'WiFi' traffic.

                    Funny how the fun and games of finding and then freeing up of increasing amounts of spectrum for mobile phones (most recent round was the transferring of spectrum reserved for TV to the mobile operators for 5G) seems to have passed by many people. Finding decent chunks of spectrum and getting international agreement on their reassignment etc. is not a quick process.

  4. Imhotep

    The Wire - without the drama

    I have run cable to every room in every house I've owned since the 80s. Since I'm providing the labor, the actual money spent is negligible. If you're working from home, you really need a wired connection.

    We still have wireless for the mobile devices, etc. In my experience, the access points provided for home by the ISP are the weak link in your network. They were provided by the cheapest bidder after all.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: The Wire - without the drama

      Some powerline chipsets go to 480mbps* and power cable is probably needed for something using that kind of bandwidth so for home working should be ideal. Unless there is something between your house and your man shed that stops it like mine.

      *that is not a limit as far as I know.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: The Wire - without the drama

        Power Line ethernet is really wireless using the entire AM HF and part of VHF. It will work with an airgap. They cheat in the EMI testing.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: The Wire - without the drama

        Devolo is currently touting 2400 Mbit. I've got to optimise a friend's setup so I'll soon find out what really comes through.

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: The Wire - without the drama

          I think I've got their 1200Mb ones, they certainly don't give 1200Mb between the different ring mains in the house.

  5. Lorribot

    Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

    We had all the bedrooms wired for TV (no one watches that now.....) so used that to pull through cat 6 cables to replace as wireless just didn't really cut the mustard (70Mb/s in the most distant bedrooms if yo were lucky) and the TP-Link wireless powerline adapters where not really sufficient with a shared 100Mb uplink when we got upgraded to FTTP, also my old BT TV box also need a permenent cable as no Wi-Fi any. An afternoons work and about £150 on cabling, an 8 port switch, some crimping tools and rj45 connectors and faceplates and the jobs a good un.

    1. mark4155

      Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

      Lucky you! FTTP, and possibly FTTC before that.

      Try my little abode 1.5 Miles from Manchester Shitty Centre. ADSL+ straight from Collyhurst (MNCOL). 1.4KM line length, quality pair of course. (I'm Ex Openreach for sins committed in a previous life).

      Be thankful for what you receive and spare a thought for us trodden down forgotten peasants grubbing around every day for every morsel of bandwidth we can find. :-)

      Have a great day.


      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

        If you and a friend with fiber can find a line of sight path between your houses, a couple of wifi access points and some bodging of a pair of satellite dishes can provide a legal (hey, it's just an access point with a really good antenna!) point to point wireless link that will outperform your DSL.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

      We had Thin-net aka cheaper net from 1994 to 1998. A 10 M bps shared medium. We moved in 1998 and installed cat5 (not even cat5e) and used initially 10/100 Hubs, then 10/100 switches and now all 100/1000 switches with no change to the cables. The distance possible is just shorter on Cat5 and some of it might be as good as Cat5e.

      Wifi was a shared 2 Mbps in 2001. Then 54 Mbps, then Turbo 108 Mbps Some of it can do over 300 Mbps but mostly a SHARED 100 Mbps approx due to all the neighbours with SkyQ and WiFi Printers as well as regular WiFi. Our server, modem, on microwave link, firewall/router, Airpoints x2 and switch is all on UPS, so the wifi goes twice as fast during a power cut.

      WiFi 6 as per previous versions has a fantasy headline speed in most of the real world, as has 3G, 4G, 5G with economical numbers of customers.

      If you can put mains wire, then you can run LAN cable, Most of the cost in an office might be cable terminations, the patch panels and managed switches. Not the actual cable and install.

      Similarly any premises with mains electricity, water and sewage can cheaply have fibre. Promotion of Satellite and Mobile for basic premises internet (and it's not broadband) is due to market distortions and poor national comms regulation.

    3. BoredTyke

      Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

      Currently looking to do similar as I'm buying a house (typical 60's semi) that needs wiring and plumbing replaced, as well as full redecoration (woodchip everywhere!!!). Thankfully we can do the work before moving in, so we might as well run some Cat6 throughout whilst everything is being ripped up!

      I'm a tinkerer rather than IT pro, but am happy taking on most DIY (except live electrics, I'm too good at hurting myself) so it should be fun to do.

      Just need to decide how much future-proofing I need - 6a worth the extra at the mo? shielded (feels like overkill)? conduit? How many ports per room? patch panel? where to put switches? should I tell my partner I'm going to use an outbuilding as a remote observatory, so I need another for a workshop?

      I suspect I may overdo it, but hopefully it'll see me right for a good few years, and it'll be cheaper now than when we're in there.

      1. Down not across

        Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

        Whatever you think ... double or triple it.

        Also you could always run more cables than needed for the wall ports. If you need more ports in few years time, its lot easier to pull the box out of the wall, cut hole for another and install than trying to run new cables in a house you're living in.

        Given Cat6a should be good for 10G, I'd imagine it should be quite sufficient for forseeable future.

        1. BoredTyke

          Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

          That's exactly the kind of thinking I like to see - have a beer on me!


          1. Down not across

            Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

            Cheers! Don't mind if I do

            I meant to comment on patch panels and switches but got sidetracked and hit submit.

            Personally I would wire them up to patch panel for future flexibility. You could probably just house switch(es) in same space as the patch panel (I'm assuming none of your cables need to be longer than 100m from the patch panel to the wall port) and there is sufficient ventilation to the switch(es) don't cook.

            If it was me, I'd probably also try to get incoming internet/telephony wired into the same space. Easy to then do what you need with it and/or distribute.

            Cannot comment on the observatory, other than excellent idea! As for another workshop, that is a no brainer. One can never have too many workshops.

            Good luck with your build!

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

              Most of the stuff in the basement (Including a 48 port Gigabyte switch), was salvaged from work junk piles, or bought new (Data closet itself & 24 port patch panel).

              The wiring upstairs is one port per room (Pre-existing), with three ports in the garage*, the downstairs basement has two cables at every port & I also put a pair into the lobby, I keep meaning to do a more critical test & labelling, most run fine up to 1Gb, one or two have lower speeds & one I think the dry wall installers put a screw through.

              *Ex-showhome & the garage was used as a office\sales room for the sales staff & the fact they actually ran single network cables into the household common area's & bedrooms.

              1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

                Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

                Buy one of these --------------------->

                every now and then for your IT folks, and remind them that when they discard equipment, you won't charge them to remove it (unlike the place they normally use), and all kinds of useful things will begin to flow your way. I, too have a second-hand commercial quality 48 port GigE switch, and all my patch panels, 66 blocks and patch cables are from the salvage pile at work. Even my router (Netgear R7000) was $50 from Goodwill. They're putting in 10G stuff at work now.

                Good networking equipment doesn't have to be expensive if you can settle for last year's model :-)

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Easy peezy, lemon squeezy

        >Just need to decide how much future-proofing I need - 6a worth the extra at the mo?

        Yes, I would go with Cat6a, although buy it by the roll rather than as pre-terminated lengths.

        Need to be careful about Cat6a patch panels (if you need them), from an installers viewpoint, there are some really good ones around and some really bad ones, cost doesn't seem to be a factor.

        As for future proofing, I would only cable the essentials initially and install more as and when required.


        Yes, separate to the electricity and with capacity for a couple of additional runs. Basically, rewire in a structured way and give yourself access so you can access ceiling/under floor voids once the carpets have been laid.

        Also make sure you have vertical conduit from lowest floor to attic and a power circuit (other than lights) to the attic.

        If you make all your power outlets double socket, you will then be able to change them from double power to single power plus 1 or 2 data as required. Obviously, some places such as behind the TV/media centre will require additional sockets.

        It will be expensive (compared to standard cabling) but enjoy the journey and the results!

  6. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    And security?

    Many years ago I made the mistake of accepting a job in a small company run by a right berk. Actually, it wasn't run by him. All financial decisions were taken by his accountant, all IT decisions were taken by the bloke at the computer shop down the street and many other decisions were taken by his wife.

    Anyway, one of the decisions the bloke in the computer shop down the street took was that the office should be switched to WiFi, "it would be so much tidier & more professional looking". And a nice little earner for him no doubt. The office contained almost exclusively desktop (i.e. not readily portable) computers. Myself & a colleague walked in to find this one Monday morning, sighed and spent 10 minutes showing the boss articles on the net about WEP hacking. It was already a thing if you had patience (in the several days to few weeks range), it hadn't yet become trivial.

    The Devils Radio should only be used where there's no practical wired alternative.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: And security?

      I totally agree.

      There's going to be a mad scramble in city centers when businesses realize that the appartment building on the other side of the street has someone who hacked into their network via WiFi and is listening in on everything.

      I don't know how easy that could be, and I'm not a hacker, but I'm pretty sure that CAT-5 is virtually impossible to evesdrop on unless you splice the cable - which is kinda hard to do from the other side of the street.

      WiFi is convenient, no doubt there, but it is certainly not and never will be as secure as wired networks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And security?

        About 15 years ago I leased an office on Charing Cross road, now demolished for the cross rail. I ordered a bulldog ASAP line, and if you remember bulldog you won’t be surprised to hear it was three months late being installed.

        I had a business to run so bought 20m of high grade cable and a high gain antenna, went up on the roof and started hunting for unsecured wifi. Being Central london I had a few to choose from, so tried to rotate to share the load. We had 5 people running over it.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: And security?

          When I first moved to Canada, had a timing screwup which meant I was alone (Fortunately) in a rented house & internet connectivity was going to be put in 2 weeks after moving in.

          Having established that the from the kitchen & back deck, my laptop could see open wireless points, but was just too weak for reliability.

          Fortunately I had a (Netgear) USB WiFi adaptor with me. A quick trip to the local $store for the largest metal sieve I could find, & some USB extension cables. A hole was forced dead centre of the sieve for the USB adapter to sit into, the handle of the sieve bent to act as a stand, connected via USB to the laptop & went hunting for the best signal to survive on.

    2. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: And security?


      WiFi is a solution to ONE and ONLY ONE problem: a situation where it is impractical or impossible to use a cable.

      In every other respect WiFi, compared to cable, is one MASSIVE kludge and nothing BUT disadvantages and problems.

  7. BOFH in Training

    Currently typing this on a wifi connected laptop

    The router is an Asus RT-AX88U which is a 4x4 802.11ax (Wifi 6) capable.

    At this moment, am on a Lenovo laptop, capable of wifi 6 as well.

    Max wifi connection speed I ever got was 933mbps I think. Router is about 3m line of sight distance from the laptop. Router not even heavily loaded as alot of stuff is on legacy 2.4ghz band.

    I don't think I will consider the wifi 6E or whatever is after that for at least a couple of years, until my router dies off.

    Meanwhile my NAS is on a dual 1gbps link to the router. My next place is gonna be fully wired up with probably 10gbps links everywhere in the house.

  8. Filippo Silver badge

    At this point, I don't give a crap about WiFi speed. When it works, it's good enough for most tasks - maybe not for high-res video, but I have wires for that. The keyword here is, when it works.

    I've been through 3 different APs at home. The first two only seemed to work line-of-sight. The current one, which was rather pricey, works decently if you're in the same room; if you're in the next room over, it probably works. Anything beyond that is a crap shoot. Also, any device may decide not to talk to it randomly.

    The last laptop I had would work fine with some APs, and absolutely refuse to work with others, even in close proximity. No amount of faffing with drivers helped.

    One of my customers called me last week because the remote bit of my software, which runs on a tablet, wasn't working. It was because the tablet suddenly decided not to connect with their WiFi any more, for no apparent reason, after working fine for 5 years.

    A few years back, I used to go to a B&B when visiting a specific customer, and the place had WiFi, but only if they rebooted the AP once or twice a day; eventually, I started walking out in the hallway and doing it myself.

    And so on, and so forth. I don't know why WiFi is so crap. I'm probably dealing with crap equipment. But, and here is the point, wired connections just don't do this. Not even with crap equipment. If I grab a 20 years old cable and run it between the cheapest Chinese hub I can find and a random PC's built-in Ethernet port, it's 99%+ likely to work, and to work fairly reliably.

    Even worse, this situation has not been getting any better over time, despite all the advances in the field; if anything, it's been getting worse. Case in point: - why can I get a more reliable connection to a cell tower that's 200+ meters away and behind four walls, than to my AP that's sitting right over there?

    I wish the smart people working on WiFi would stop obsessing over speed in lab conditions, and put the same energy on reliability instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I wish the smart people working on WiFi would stop obsessing over speed in lab conditions, and put the same energy on reliability instead."

      You know I wish they'd do this in a lot of areas - not just Wifi, or even IT - let's make what we have work properly before starting out on the next thing: it's a never-ending life of things that just don't work properly.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Because speed is a number and higher numbers mean people will buy more stuff.

      Saying that the connection is more reliable is difficult. I supposed BTs WiFi guarantee is the nearest but I don't use their hub or know anyone who does so have no idea how it stacks up.

      1. Trollslayer

        Not if you design the test cases correctly.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: why can I get a more reliable connection to a cell tower

      They use 700, 800, 900, 1800 or 2100 MHz bands and more power as they are licensed. WiFi uses low power "pre-licensed" 2400 MHz or 5800 MHz approx.

      The 900 band used in Europe is good, the USA equivalent is 800 MHz and 1800 MHz in Europe isn't bad.

      DECT (1900 MHz?) has MUCH better range and battery life than a WiFi VOIP phone.

    4. Altrux


      So much this! We had it in the office the other day, when our relatively expensive Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) mesh system just decided to start flaking out. Even a power cycle of both APs didn't help; suddenly, the supposedly better 5GHz network just became mostly unusable; the 2.4GHz network still runs fine. Wi-Fi is such a wonderful technology in theory, but so infuriatingly "random" in practice.

    5. druck Silver badge

      A lot of laptops have crap WiFi chip sets, on a pervious generation of laptops from about 2014 I replaced all the mini WiFi cards with Intel ac ones, and got three times the speed at twice the distance.

  9. anthonywharris

    LinkSys VELOP and WIFI 6 - Yep. It doesn't work!

    I have a five bedroom house much of which is open plan. I used to cover much of it (not all) with eight Google WIFI boxes. Sadly when I went to gigabit internet the coverage was ok but the WIFI speed was of course much worse than the speed coming in. Not Google's fault - that's the spec.

    So, i did the research, and purchased one Linksys Velop MX5300 and two MX4200s for 'whole home mesh' with WiFi6. The units were in direct line of sight, ten feet from each other, in the same spots as the Google WIFI boxes had been. It didn't work. WIfi speed was around 60mbits. So, I added another MX4200 box - no difference. So, i added another - no difference - and another and another and another. Finally i got to 12 boxes and i was still only getting 75 to 100mbits. That was £2000+ so something else had to be done. So, i have installed CAT6 cabling on the ground and basement floors and am using the boxes as multiple WAPs. Now (surprise!) i get 400+mbits on wifi downstairs and in the basement and 300+mbits upstairs where the units are on wifi only.

    So it appears that CAT6 hardwiring is still required to get any kind of performance. Either that or the Linksys VELOP system is a poor implementation.

    1. Christopher Rogers

      Re: LinkSys VELOP and WIFI 6 - Yep. It doesn't work!

      Agreed. I have 2 Asus XT8 routers and they are fantastic for allowing us to forgo running network cables to end devices, but to connect to each other and ultimately to the ISP router, wired connections are a must.

      Currently that connection is powerline adapters because this is a rental house as we renovate our own home. But that home will be Cat X throughout (depending on budget)

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: LinkSys VELOP and WIFI 6 - Yep. It doesn't work!

      "So, i did the research, and purchased one Linksys Velop MX5300 and two MX4200s for 'whole home mesh' with WiFi6. The units were in direct line of sight, ten feet from each other, in the same spots as the Google WIFI boxes had been. It didn't work."

      The only mesh network I've had to setup was with another el-cheapo manufacturer .ac product line , but all those AP's needed to be linked to each other first with a mobile app and reading in QR codes from each unit. The mesh network works very well, with 2 in the main building and one in garage, and one in a guest cabin.

      Perhaps your setup missed that linking part?

      Also, "10 feet" and "direct line of sight" is just insane and asking for trouble!

      I don't have cabling at home, just a central 4G/802.11ac router and and extra DD-WRT repeater on another part of the house. Cabling would be better, but I can't be bothered.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WiFi 6 may not; 5G may

    Many parts of the world have skipped the ADSL and then VDSL stage, and residential broadband is provided with a 4G backhaul link. (was bewildered when I first saw such a thing in 2015; it looked like a normal WiFi router, complete with blinking lights, etc, but no telephone wire).

    Mobile networks are investing many, many billions to deploy 5G; 5G requires base stations every few hundred metres (way more than 4G masts).

    It's not hard to imagine they'll try to recoup their investment by offering residential broadband at gigabit speeds. You can do this today, of course, over 4G, but there are capacity constraints to do this at scale.

    Laptops and tablets will soon routinely have 5G. With 5G, there's no longer "work" or "home" or "mobile" [at least nominally] - it's all the same network; no transitions, no peculiarities when using the VPN over home vs mobile.

    For example, 4G|5G is an add-on to iPads. It's expensive. But for those who have made the change, it "just working" anywhere and everywhere [there's coverage] is great, and quickly becomes essential.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: With 5G, there's no longer "work" or "home" or "mobile"

      I'm pretty sure that the IT admin at the NSA (or any Fortune 1000 company) is not going to agree with that statement.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: With 5G, there's no longer "work" or "home" or "mobile"

        Using any wireless connection opens up the risk of eavesdropping, but if you let users use WiFi, that's already a risk you have to handle. In fact, if you let your users use a wired connection that's not the business network, you already could have that problem given the places where traffic could be captured. This is a known problem. Acceptable solutions are not allowing any external networks, allowing external networks only with a secure layer like a VPN on top, or deciding you know the risks and you'll take them. Changing from home ethernet to mobile doesn't change the calculation there, as by the time you got to allowing home network you probably needed an encrypted connection already.

    2. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: WiFi 6 may not; 5G may

      "But for those who have made the change, it 'just working' anywhere and everywhere [there's coverage] is great, and quickly becomes essential."

      But here in the real world, it "just doesn't", is more the norm.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WiFi 6 may not; 5G may

      So any traffic destined for local devices has to go out over 5G and have some sort of VPN coming back in to each and every device? If not then you have WiFi / cables present on some devices then what the fuck is the point of the 5G? Do all my devices connect to my own 5G tower? How do they authenticate? I have to have a sim from a provider? Fuck that if I’m not hitting their actual network. What next using fucking blockchain?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cabling cost

    “significantly north of £100k”

    For a big (not vast) one floor office ?

    I’m assuming a cabling cost that high includes cost for ripping open floors and walls. If not <joke>I assume Monster cables were used</joke>.

    A decade (or more) ago our current office site was expanded. 3 floors, 800 sqm each. I actually managed to convince the higher ups to to have raised floors *everywhere*. Additional cost was 75K € compared to the tiling they wanted to get in first. The savings over the years (moving offices, reorgs, at least once a year, some years a lot more often) dwarf that.

    What still irks me, if the umpteenth move is coming up, is the remark “Can’t we just use wifi ?” when I mention the relatively low cabling cost. They never seem to remember that recabling also includes power points for their docking stations and monitors.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: cabling cost

      What still irks me, if the umpteenth move is coming up, is the remark “Can’t we just use wifi ?” when I mention the relatively low cabling cost.

      The correct answer to that is: "Sure, do you know a reliable supplier for power over wifi?".

  12. MJI Silver badge


    A few on hub so one to PS4, one to PC, one to upstairs.

    Upstairs into a room via ethernet hub to a number of PCs and Consoles (boys room).

    One son even connected his phone to an ethernet port to avoid wifi.

    A quick look at mobile telephone shows 5 other wifi networks I could connect to.

    that said my home network is listed incorrectly, this PC is not listed.

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Wired

      The location where our main office is, there are 35+ other networks listed. None of them ours.

      That is the biggest problem of all with WiFi. It was fine when you and someone else in your street had it. Now EVERYONE has it and it is EVERYWHERE.

      Consequently it is very very VERY crowded.

  13. OGShakes

    Thick Walls

    I live in a one bedroom flat, it was converted from an old folks home 30 years ago and before that the building was 2 houses. So as I am sure you can imagine all of it has been a little knocked around over the years and this leads to some interesting issues with my network. The wall between my lounge and bedroom is thick enough that wifi signal drops by about 65%, combine that with the Wifi signals from the flats around us and its possible to lose signal completely from time to time!

    I used the site survey tools from work to run a check on the place and no one could believe that this was possible in a small flat, that less than 10 metres from the router you will not get usable signal. Interestingly, once I wired my home network and put anything that could be on a cable on one, this improved things a great deal and I am now able to watch iplayer/netflix on my tablet in bed.

  14. Pen-y-gors

    Horses for courses

    I've worked from home for the last 20 years, so my technology has evolved. Problem is that while WifI has problems with internal walls, when the internal walls are in a cottage in Cymru and are usually 18" of stone, then 'problem' is a serious understatement. So I've built up a mix of cables strung around walls, skirting boards and through holes in the wooden floors (untidy, but I can't channel those stone walls), and in a pipe between the house and the office, which then conect to a little switch or a WiFi box in the different areas. Some things then use a wired connection from the switch, others (phones, printer) use the WiFi. Garden is covered by putting router on windowsill!

    I also volunteer in a community shop and caffi, and we have interesting issues. It's a nice new wooden-framed building, so we happily run two wifi networks off our Fibre router, one for public, one for staff and business. All works fine. But...doesn't reach outside the building. (And 4G doesn't reach inside the building). In our desire to build a really environmentally sound building, we slightly overdid it. The roof is lovely black-enamelled corrugated iron, the walls are massively insulated, and include a foil layer on each panel, and the windows are triple-glazed, again with a metal film on the outside. Result, one giant Faraday cage, so we had to run a cable out to the shed in the garden to get a connection there.

    1. Belperite

      Re: Horses for courses

      Another 'AP on the windowsill' person here. Covers the attic bedroom and the whole back garden below very nicely.

      1. Steve Lloyd

        Re: Horses for courses

        One thing I found out by putting an AP on a window sill. They don't like direct sunlight. I broke two of them before putting in a cardboard screen. The current one has lasted 3 years so far.

  15. aregross

    WiFI 6e

    My understanding of WiFi6(e) is there can be a 3rd 'backhaul' channel (either wired to the AP or wireless) that takes the load off the uplink from the device, thus freeing the downlink to the device and increasing the bandwidth.

    I am currently wiring my daughter's 100 year old house that's been gutted to the bare framed walls to run PoE to the APs and then backhaul from the AP to the router using that same Cat6 cable.

    Will probably use TP-Link's tri-band Mesh Business solution as the Home solutions are only dual-band (with exceptions). Yea it's expensive but it'll be future proof... at least for a few years.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WiFi or ISP?

    With several hundred members of staff working from home over the last 12+ months we’ve had a consistent issue and it’s only been WiFi a handful of times - ISP’s.

    Whenever we see a VPN ticket now the first question is “who is your ISP?”. Funnily (not) enough VM are the biggest headache with regular service dropouts that they almost always deny. Simple check of the regular sources when we know their ISP and most calls are resolved quite quickly - “you will have to either tether to your phone or wait for your connection to become stable again”.

    Even with many home users sharing WiFi with their kids on their consoles/YouTube/Netflix etc we rarely see an issue that is resolve by plugging in a cable.

    ISP’s need to be honest about their lack of service. Better to lose 1 person for being honest than 20 for getting sick of their bs. Just saying…

  17. Kistelek

    But have you seen the price of it?

    So I'm having a bungalow extended and refurbished so of course I'm having 2 wired sockets put in behind the TV and 4 in my office but there's also going to be 2 at each end of the loft and 4 in the garage. Wired is great for things that don't move. Wifi is OK for the Alexa stuff and the laptops and, given the 4g signal wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding in Deepest Darkest Hereford*, the phones but wired wins for the high bandwidth (SkyQ, Smart TV, My "hobby" machines to my home server (also going in the loft) and PoE stuff like CCTV.

    My gripe is the price of WiFi6 stuff. It's bonkers.

    (*) 4 miles from the city centre.

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The dedicated channel approach just doesn't work in that context

    With adding a level of abstraction we maybe could get rid of this limitation: having two 'virtual' radio channels, with a lookup table between virtual and real radio channels, with a centralized (or distributed) manager to sort that.

  19. imanidiot Silver badge

    It's fine, until it isn't

    I my experience on corporate networks, wifi is fine until too many people are using it. So put 20 people in the same room with their laptops all on wifi and things get slow and/or even questionable.

    In my home I have my desktop PC and the smart TV wired up (with some other ports around the house not currently connected because I'm lazy). There's about 25 to 30 different wifi networks in the area (mostly from the modems/APs of the same 2 ISPs) and not a snowballs chance in hell of having a good reliable wifi signal all through the house. So I put in CAT6 UTP (with some freebie keystone jacks I received during a network cabling training, thanks boss!). Works a treat and no more network issues. Only the longest run doesn't quite want to go to gigabit speeds last time I tried, but that may have been a dodgy patch cable. The wifi has been relegated to use by the the mobile phone only.

  20. cst101

    Raw numbers aren't comparable at the same rated speeds

    Honestly, the raw throughput numbers of wifi cannot be relied upon when comparing it to wired, simply because the wifi protocol has more overhead than wired. Thus, 10gbps over wifi is not the same as 10gbps over copper or fiber. Even under ideal conditions with no interference and maximum signal quality, you'd be lucky if a 10gbps-rated wifi connection can reach 75% of the actual bandwidth performance of a hard-wired 10gbps network connection, even with network traffic flowing only one way to discount the full-vs-half duplex limitations. More efficient protocols and compression might be able to help reduce this disparity, but it is a disparity that will always be there. Realistically, I don't see wifi competing with hard-wired from a bandwidth standpoint unless ethernet speeds stagnate at 10gbps for the next decade or so as it did with 1gbps.

    Yes, in situations where an office or home is hobbled by an ancient 100mbps network, AX or even the older AC wireless would potentially outperform the wired LAN...but only between wireless clients on the same AP. It'll still be hobbled by the slow wired LAN whenever it has to hit that portion of the network unless the entire network is upgraded to support gigabit or faster. However, my discussion about the higher wifi overhead is only for same-speed comparisons and situations where people are drooling over "wifi as fast as wired" after simply looking at the raw rated throughput.

    As for the potential security implications of wifi...I'm not gonna even bother getting into that, because the thought of what has happened before (hello KRACK...) and could possibly happen yet nauseates me.

  21. Paul Johnston

    WiFi it's the future honest!

    New plan at work, wired out, wireless in.

    So see which wired sockets have not been used for a year and then disable them.

    Then reduce the switch capacity to cope with the reduced demand.

    Oh yes we have been on lockdown, and peoples sockets will not have been on for a year if they turned their kit off before they evacuated the buildings, but it will save us money honest.

    This one could be fun when people return to work.

    1. hardboiledphil

      Re: WiFi it's the future honest!

      I have fallen to this scam during my time away from the office. Gone is my hardwire to the docking station. Sure the wifi is fast now but the office is empty...

      On the plus side I now have ethernet over power + cat 5/1gb switch at home for laptops/desktop/appletv/ etc and phone/tablet have much less interruption than when I used to use the wifi on the shared house wifi

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: WiFi it's the future honest!

      >So see which wired sockets have not been used for a year and then disable them.


      This one could be fun when people return to work.

      Sounds great until in preparing the office for a return to work under CoViD conventions, the furniture gets moved around...

    3. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: WiFi it's the future honest!

      God help you if you have to manage a PC estate of any size.

      With wired networking you can effectively manage your estate with the aid of WOL - anywhere from a few tens of PC to tens of thousands.

      Once you shift across to WiFi - FORGET IT! Remote management of your estate is effectively crippled as there is not reliable WiFi equivalent to WOL. Then you are back to pleading and begging your users to not shutdown their PCs or anything else that may cause them to drop of the network,

      And if they don't, your ability to do effective remote management, especially out of hours and at weekends is STUFFED.

      A few laptops on one's network can be bad enough - I've lost count of how many times I've re-iterated "do not separate laptops from the power supplies", and the monotonous count of "lab laptops" which drop off the network because they have been left running on battery until it's drained. And the dull regular "laptop hunt" to find them, their PSUs and plug the buggers back in to get updated.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    WiFi speed is an illusion

    I did a lot of development and testing work with WiFi back in the 2000s and it proved impossible to convince anyone -- especially people in Marketing -- that just because it said "54MBits/sec" on the box that the actual data rate you were going to get, even under ideal conditions, was considerably lower and the reason for this wasn't because the developers were lazy or incompetent.

    I've found that very few people really understand how wireless works. Our culture is steeped in notions like 'channels', the idea that we select information by tuning a radio, and its proving very difficult to dislodge. This doesn't just affect WiFi. The 2.4GHz band is used for a whole bunch of other things including radio control of models and I've found that modellers, people who were brought up on the notion of exclusive channel use, have difficulty getting their heads around why they can appear to fly so many models on the same frequency and yet for some reason when they fly near those houses over there the planes are likely to go out of control.

    Extra R/F bandwidth is always welcome. But ultimately you're going up against a shared medium that requires significant inter-frame gaps and uses a relatively low symbol rate (a dozen of those symbols on the front of each packet carrying clock synchronization and housekeeping information). You get the high data rates by a combination of symbol coding rate and spreading over a lot of spectrum (running channels in parallel, in effect). Everything combines to give you a decent throughput but it will never approach the consistency and reliability of a cable. So I use WiFi for 'intermittent use' but I stream using Cat-5.

  23. rcxb1

    Datacenter usage

    I can see a future where Wi-Fi might be used in the datacenter. Switches aren't cheap, and they take up real space. If you want failover, double both. Wire installation and management takes some extra time as well.

    If your servers are doing local work and don't need to reach out too much, one small and light Wi-Fi AP mounted anywhere could cover several cages of hundreds of servers, and a second would give you failover. Even the Wi-Fi dongles are cheaper than ethernet cards.

    Yeah, not a common use case, but I can see it being a good enough money saving idea for a few businesses. It's like the old 10Base2 model of shared-bus Ethernet all over again, and that certainly worked well enough for a lot of use-cases.

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Datacenter usage

      "Datacenter usage

      I can see a future where Wi-Fi might be used in the datacenter. Switches aren't cheap, and they take up real space. If you want failover, double both. Wire installation and management takes some extra time as well."

      Sounds like a VERY BAD IDEA.... All those costly switches etc are to achieve not just redundancy and reliability, but raw

      THROUGHPUT. WiFi will cripple that.

      It would just be a completely unnecessary added level of useless complexity.

      And I'd love to see you try and map the WiFi signal propagation in among that forest of metalwork to get even a vague idea of where the odd "hotspots" are and where the much larger number of "notspots" are. And as soon as anyone walks down an aisle and opens a (screened) rack door - your propagation map goes out of the window and lots of "odd signal dropouts" start plaguing your datacentre infrastructure.

      1. rcxb1

        Re: Datacenter usage

        I specifically said this was: "If your servers are doing local work and don't need to reach out too much" and "not a common use case" so explaining to me that it won't be fast is just banal.

        1. JAB van Ree

          Re: Datacenter usage

          And in this modern time, where half of our data storage and services are cloud based, how much 'workloads' don't require fast networks? Even most number crunching workloads are actually built upon fast high performance wired networks.

  24. Roland6 Silver badge

    Will someone think about the client device!

    I find it amusing that no has mentioned the other problem with WiFi - client device support. WiFi6 sound great on paper, but if your WiFi6 compatible laptop only has a single antenna, or even two antenna (relatively common these days) then don't expect it to be able to utilise more than a fraction the capacity of a decent WiFi6 AP.

    However, that same laptop is likely to have a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port which it is capable of transferringdata at speeds in excess of the WiFi adaptor(*)...

    In the main WiFi is good enough for many use cases, but if you really need the throughput then a cable connection is likely to be the superior solution.

    (*) From memory, tests show that whilst many adaptors support 1000Mbps signalling, they will effectively top out at between 600~800Mbps effective data rate.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Will someone think about the client device!

      but if you really need the throughput

      That's the key point. How many people actually need 300Mbps constantly? Yes, it's a lot better uploading my camera footage to the NAS over 1Gbps than 100Mbps (a dodgy patch cable became very obvious one day!), but apart from people like us, most people - very nearly all domestic users in fact - will never need more than a reliable 10 - 20Mbps to the device, except possibly when streaming 4k.

      To add to that, of course, very nearly all domestic users will not be doing large in-house transfers. Their traffic will be almost exclusively internet-to-single-device and therefore for most people (certainly in the UK) the bottleneck is still likely to be the external connection unless the WiFi setup is very poor.

      As an aside, I have recently mothballed a point-to-point wireless link at home. The devices claimed to be capable of 300Mbps (at 5GHz) but their wired connections were 100Mbps. At first I was rather cross, but thinking about it, it's the equivalent of 300Mbps half duplex minus overhead, against 200Mbps full duplex, very little overhead, so it's actually a reasonable match. Except where traffic is asymmetrical, which is mostly was I suppose :-(


  25. Martin

    That headline...

    I'm going to make some random statement. Here's why.

    I thought that sort of headline was only found on those dodgy links at the bottom of the websites for the local papers (and the Independent). Bit disappointing to find one here on El Reg.

  26. simpfeld

    Network Mantra

    "Wire when you can. Wireless when you have to" , still and maybe always will hold.

    I need to use WiFi for tablets, phone, mobile applications. But my desktop doesn't need to be WiFi, not does my TV, it doesn't move.

    I hate seeing people stream 4K on their TV over WiFi about 2 metres from the ISP hub. Even if cabling is hard, over the mains Ethernet Homeplug devices

    seem to perform much better than WiFi (in a domestic setting).

    Finally a sensible article about WiFi. I have similar view of 5G, which is the new you'll never need a cable again technology fallacy!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People vs Data...

    Everyone needs to back up a minute (that's back up, not backup, but do that as well)

    The most important question to always ask first is: where are you (or your people) in relation to your data or services (or at least the bulk of it)?

    If you primarily use cloud- and web-based services and/or your people work as much out-of-the-office as in it then there's not a lot of point of throwing expensive cabling and switch-gear at the office-end of the problem, especially if your office's upstream internet connection is limited to a few wobbly Mbs and half a Mars bar because your building doesn't properly register on Openreach's theoretical map of the world.

    Even if you have a solid couple of hundred Mbs heading upstream, if there are no servers and no data in your office then installing costly switches and digging up your listed Grade X trading estate office building to install cabled gigabit to the desktop is, well, technically pointless. Everything gets channelled into your upstream. If you're cramming too many people or things into your upstream then Karen in Sales really isnt going to benefit from an expensive Cisco switch port.

    I say that as a big fan of cabled networks and reliable, enterprise-grade switches...

  28. JBowler

    Maybe, yet...

    >But it is just not possible to imagine a world where Wi-Fi will, as a mainstream technology, reach a state where it's as fast and bullet-proof as cabled networks.

    I agree completely. Yet the argument is predicated on an assumption of "mainstream technology" and an assertion (preceding the quote) that effectively states wires can be grouped without limit in the spatial domain while grouping signals within the frequency domain is inherently limited.

    I suspect, however, that as things get smaller the spatial and frequency domains converge.

    WiFi signals are separated in the frequency domain; I accept that your observations about wifi-next-window interference and the ITT-walkie-talkie show that spatial separation is ineffective. Cable/fibre/wet-string-between-two-cans are separated in the spatial domain. I actually don't accept that FTP is worth the tinfoil; the problem addressed by CAT6 was that wrapping UTP pairs over many meters resulted in a small amount of cross-talk that prevented higher frequencies, yet a neutron bomb will disrupt wifi just as much as CAT8, regardless of the tinfoil hat. The limitation of the wired spatial separation is, I accept, slightly more distance than the frequency limitation on spatially broadcast transmission.

    What I am suggesting, instead, is that assuming that two such radically different technologies; one separated in time (frequency), the other in space (distance) will not converge is clearly flawed, yet even assuming that such convergence will not happen next year is a mistake.

    So, yeah. I admit, I agree with you completely but I still hope I will be wrong.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Maybe, yet...

      What I am suggesting, instead, is that assuming that two such radically different technologies; one separated in time (frequency), the other in space (distance) will not converge is clearly flawed, yet even assuming that such convergence will not happen next year is a mistake.

      Erm, so, erm, if I understand what you are saying correctly, you think that there will come a point when it's impossible to squeeze any more patch cables into a panel, so the total throughput per cubic meter of cabinet and cable duct has a hard limit, but that because wireless is not constrained by space, you can keep on adding clients to a radio without such a limit. At some point the total throughputs will converge.

      I'd suggest this is wrong on three very simple fronts.

      First, it presupposes that the capacity of individual cables cannot increase. This is obviously wrong. A single Cat.6 cable may only run at 1Gbps today, but it is a trivial (if not inexpensive) upgrade to 10Gbps (a tenfold increase in potential throughput) and further increases to 25Gbps and 40Gbps are in the market, though still a little pricey. If you are willing to swap to fibre "cables", then density at the patch panel stays roughly similar, density in the ducting increases (multicore fibre cables), and raw data rate has the potential to increase tenfold again.

      Secondly it presupposes that WiFi is not constrained by space. In fact, it is. In order to have more channels separated in frequency you need more radios, and a radio is a physical item which takes up space on a circuit board. More than that though, there are only so many laptops you can squeeze on to a typical work desk, and even when you add mobile phones and tablets and the odd IoT device, the density of client devices is never going to be greater than the potential density of cabling to connect them.

      Thirdly is presupposes that WiFi is not constrained by frequency (I'll mention separation in time later as it's not the same as separation by frequency). While this could be argued from a purely theoretical basis, in practice WiFi is very tightly constrained by frequency. There are physical limts (it's impractical to use very low frequencies at the very least due to antenna design issues, and it's impractical to use extremely high frequencies both for electronic limits and, ultimately, propagation issues), but mainly there are regulatory issues - there are many, many other applications of wireless, and you can't blurt WiFi on anything except a very limited, defined range of frequencies.

      However "clever" the encodings are, giving more bits per MHz than was even thought theoretically possible just 30 or 40 years ago (and, of course, many of the techniques which enable this are equally applicable to cables), this lack of frequencies inevitably results in frequency re-use, and therefore the wireless equivalent of "contention" (devices using the same channels by design which results in co-operative separation in time meaning the channel throughput is theoretically maintained, but now it is shared between endpoints) and "interference" - devices using the same channels without co-operating, which raises the error rate and brings the total throughput per channel down.

      It is very hard to imagine a situation, datacentre, office or even home, now or in the future where these limits do not apply and where wireless is capable of delivering better throughput than wires.

      As has been said several times in these comments, wire where you can, wireless only when it's impossible to wire. There's also the purely practical issue that wireless can be a bit of a pain to set up, but once you have connected a wire from point "a" to point "b" and the little lights come on and start flashing, the thing (usually) just works.


      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe, yet...

        >It is very hard to imagine a situation, ...where wireless is capable of delivering better throughput than wires.

        In reading this and the "Data Center" comment threads, I think I can see a scenario where you could use wire-less, however, for this use case the caveat "good enough throughput" applies.

        Given the deployment of array antenna for 5G cells, it seems reasonable to ask if fitting an array antenna to the door of a standard datacenter cabinet (or even a few feet away) directly attached to/integrated with a network switch backplane might be possible and have uses, namely removing the need for physical data cabling between a rack-mounted device and the switch.

  29. FlamingDeath Silver badge


    Wireless is insecure

    Its hard for a bad actor to get access to cabled infrastructure, but pretty easy to send a deauth to a station and capture the handshake, cloud computing is cheap, crack the key

    Wireless is fked, frame attacks, only wifi alliance can fix


POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon