Difference between WiFi and Ethernet

InternetNetworkTechnology

WiFi is a wireless network to connect nearby devices with each other and share the Internet via hotspots. Ethernet, on the other hand, is a LAN network standard used in wired LAN. Go through this article to find out more about the features of WiFi and Ethernet and how they are different from each other.

What is WiFi?

WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity. It defines any network based on the 802.11 standards, allows computers and devices with the required wireless capacity to communicate via radio waves with other computers or devices. IEEE established the 802.11 network standards, which describe how two wireless devices interact over the air.

WiFi is a small network where smartphones, computers or other networkable devices are connected to each other wirelessly within a small range and share Internet using hotspots. WiFi uses radio frequency waves for wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. The size of a WiFi antenna is very small and can be put on small routers. WiFi can be used to connect printers, computers, gaming consoles, mobile and so on.

WiFi specifies how to physically create a wireless network using approaches similar to the Ethernet standard. WiFi is built into most of today's computers and mobile devices, such as smartphones and handheld game consoles.

The WiFi standard is widely used in hotspots, which allow mobile users to connect to the internet using their WiFi-enabled wireless computers and devices. WiFi is also used in many homes and small companies to connect computers and devices wirelessly.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a widely used LAN standard. It is defined under IEEE 802.3 standards. It is very easy to understand, implement, maintain and is a low-cost implementation. It generally uses Bus Topology but other topologies can also be used. It is part of the Physical and Data Layer of the OSI model.

Ethernet is a set of technologies and protocols that are used primarily in LANs. It was first standardized in 1980s by IEEE 802.3 standard. IEEE 802.3 defines the physical layer and the medium access control (MAC) sub-layer of the data link layer for wired Ethernet networks. Ethernet is classified into two categories: classic Ethernet and switched Ethernet.

  • Classic Ethernet is the original form of Ethernet that provides data rates between 3 to 10 Mbps. The varieties are commonly referred as 10BASE-X. Here, 10 is the maximum throughput, i.e. 10 Mbps, BASE denoted use of baseband transmission, and X is the type of medium used. Most varieties of classic Ethernet have become obsolete in present communication scenario.

  • A Switched Ethernet uses switches to connect to the stations in the LAN. It replaces the repeaters used in classic Ethernet and allows full bandwidth utilization.

IEEE 802.3 Popular Versions

There are a number of versions of IEEE 802.3 protocol. The most popular ones are −

  • IEEE 802.3 − This was the original standard given for 10BASE-5. It used a thick single coaxial cable into which a connection can be tapped by drilling into the cable to the core. Here, 10 is the maximum throughput, i.e., 10 Mbps, BASE denoted use of baseband transmission, and 5 refers to the maximum segment length of 500m.

  • IEEE 802.3a − This gave the standard for thin coax (10BASE-2), which is a thinner variety where the segments of coaxial cables are connected by BNC connectors. The 2 refers to the maximum segment length of about 200m (185m to be precise).

  • IEEE 802.3i − This gave the standard for twisted pair (10BASE-T) that uses unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper wires as physical layer medium. The further variations were given by IEEE 802.3u for 100BASE-TX, 100BASE-T4 and 100BASE-FX.

  • IEEE 802.3i − This gave the standard for Ethernet over Fiber (10BASE-F) that uses fiber optic cables as medium of transmission.

Comparison between WiFi and Ethernet

The following are some of the important differences between WiFi and Ethernet.

KeyWiFiEthernet
ConceptWiFi is a wireless network to connect nearby devices to each other and share the internet via hotspots.Ethernet is a LAN network standard used in wired LAN.
IEEE StandardWiFi is based on IEEE 802.11x specifications where x is WiFi versions.Ethernet is based on IEEE 802.3 specifications.
ConnectionDevices can be connected without wires, without ports.Ethernet is wired and hence no mobility.
FlexibilityWiFi is highly flexible.Ethernet is not flexible.
EfficiencyWiFi is less efficient and has latency in network connections.Ethernet is more efficient and provides more speed.
InstallationIt is easy to install and deploy a WiFi setup.Installing and deploying an Ethernet network is a relatively difficult and time-consuming process.
EncryptionWiFi data is encrypted during transfer.Data is not required to be encrypted during transfer in Ethernet.

Conclusion

WiFi establishes a wireless network that allows computers and devices with the required wireless capacity to communicate via radio waves. Ethernet, the other hand, is a LAN network standard used in wired LAN.

raja
Updated on 03-Jun-2022 11:28:57

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