Truth is, the speed of a Wi-Fi connection depends on many factors. Just like most types of computer networks, Wi-Fi supports different performance levels depending on the standard of the technology. Wi-Fi standards are certified by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering). Wi-Fi ratings are determined by the maximum theoretical network bandwidth.
Theoretical Vs. the Actual Network Speeds
The older 802.11 network does not exceed 50% of its theoretical peak, this is about 5.5 Mbps. 802.11a and 802.11g do not get past 20 Mbps.
The 802.11n has rates of 600 Mbps compared to wired Ethernet rates of 100 Mbps. In the real sense, the Ethernet connection offers better performance rates than the 802.11n. However, Wi-Fi is improving with each new generation.
The 802.11ac which is the latest standard is commonly known as Gigabit Wi-Fi and operates in the 5 GHz band, theoretical speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps and can connect a maximum of four devices using Multi-User, Multi-Input, and Multi-Output.
What’s Coming Next?
The next wireless communication standard that is scheduled for release in 2019 is the 802.11ax. It will be a massive improvement to the 802.11ac and will work even during heavy interference and connect up to 12 devices.
Role of ISP in Network Speed
Many ISPs have different plans of internet service and the speed that you get on your end depends on the plan you’ve subscribed to. The faster the connection on your end, the higher your subscription rates.
The Importance of Faster Network Speeds
Many people spend time on the internet streaming video. Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are some of the most popular video streaming service providers and to use them without any problem, your internet speeds must meet their minimum speed requirements.
The same applies to Apple TV and Roku and any other free or paid streaming app.
Without a faster connection, your video streaming experience will be below par and this is characterized by frequent video pauses commonly termed as buffering.
Netflix supports speeds of 1.5 Mbps and up. For standard definition video quality, you need 3.0 Mbps, for high-definition you need 5.0, and for ultra-definition, you need 25 Mbps.
How to Test Your Wi-Fi Speeds
Check whether your ISP offers online speed testing on their platform. Just log in and go to the connection speed option. If they don’t have a speed test, use one of the many internet speed testing services online. Repeat the tests at different times of the day to get the average.