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    Wireless networking - an experiment

    This is a discussion on Wireless networking - an experiment within the Wireless / Adapters forums, part of the Sky Broadband help category; You don't need to be signed up to Sky User for very long to see that a lot of Sky ...

    1. #1
      James67's Avatar
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      Wireless networking - an experiment

      You don't need to be signed up to Sky User for very long to see that a lot of Sky Broadband users are really hacked off with the kinds of speeds they get with wireless networking. This kind of comment seems common: "My router says I'm connected at 15232 kbit/sec, but when I run a speed tester on my wireless laptop, I'm only getting 2000 kbit/sec. Why is Sky Broadband so awful?"

      Well, I was a bit bored so I decided to do an experiment to see what kind of real transfers speeds I could get over a wireless network. Everything in my house is wired to a gigabit Ethernet network and there are never any speed issues - files simply fly from one PC to another faster than they can read from or written to the hard drive in most cases.

      I've got my own server machine which is running (amongst other things) a web server. I installed a 3GB file on that and attempted to copy it to my Windows XP PC over the Ethernet. The file was transfered at about 45 megabytes per second (equivalent to 360 Mbits/sec). Not bad at all really for an "untuned" web server.

      I then set up a Wireless Access Point on the network. This is basically like a broadband router but without a broadband modem - it allows a wireless device to connect to a wired network. I also unplugged my WinXP PC from the wired network and plugged in a USB wireless adaptor. The adaptor and the access point were about 3 metres apart with no intervening walls or ceilings. I tried each of the 13 wireless channels in turn and measured how fast the big file was downloaded from my local web server. Remember, there's no broadband involved here - the only bottleneck is the wireless networking. Here's the results I got, with the speeds all converted to Mbits/sec so they can be directly compared against broadband speeds:
      • Channel 1 - 16 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 2 - 6 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 3 - 12 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 4 - 13 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 5 - 10 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 6 - 8 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 7 - 6 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 8 - 8 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 9 - 4 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 10 - 10 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 11 - 7 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 12 - 3 Mbit/sec
      • Channel 13 - 10 Mbit/sec
      In every one of these cases, the USB Wireless Adapter configuration utility reported that the network connection strength was Excellent, and the connection speed was 54 Mbit/sec - the maximum the adapter is capable of. Just to repeat, these are tests of file transfer speeds from one wired PC in my house to a wireless PC, going through an access point and a USB wireless adapter. There's no broadband involvement at all.

      The shocking thing is that most of these channels give me a transfer speed which is less than the speed at which my router syncs with the exchange. In other words, if I were to use wireless networking, it wouldn't be Sky's Broadband service that would be slowing down my apparent speed test results, it would be the wireless networking within my house.


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    3. #2
      fihart's Avatar
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      Re: Wireless networking - an experiment

      Yeah, one of the leading networking designers in the States let the cat out of the bag 6 months ago when he admited in a seminar that a realistic speed for "54mbit" wireless is 20mbit or less.

      Do you think that the better performance on Channel 1 is inherent -- or an issue local to your environment ?

    4. #3
      James67's Avatar
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      Re: Wireless networking - an experiment

      Unexpectedly, channel 1 is the channel my next-door-neighbour uses and it's the next strongest signal after the signal from my own access point.

      I've long suspected that wireless network interference is more problematic when you have a strong signal competing with a weaker signal. It seems from the experiment that when it's two fairly strong signals competing, things work better (although it's still pitifully slow compared to the 54 Mbit/sec alledged connection speed).

     

     

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