In recent years, the Internet of Things (IoT) experienced major shifts and improvements within wireless connectivity and specifically new low power protocols like LoRa. Emerging RF technologies like 5G connectivity and next generation WiFi 6 (802.11ax) present an unknown future for the state of wired local area network connectivity (LAN).

Wireless LAN

Wired LAN

Power

Battery, energy harvesting or power cable connection

Power over Ethernet (PoE), cable connection, or energy harvesting

Data Rate

Up to 2.6Gbps with 802.11ax

Up to 10Gbps per copped lane, lanes can be logically bonded for higher data rate

Security

Digital encryption

Inherent, non-broadcasting

Range

Data rate dependent, up to 100ft for highest data rates

Data rate and media dependent, up to km using fiber

Cost of installation

Minimal, no cabling to end client node required

Each end client node must be wired generating high costs


There are many factors to consider when applying connectivity technologies. The decision to use wired or wireless connectivity comes down a few items: power, data rate, security, range and cost. The main factors are driven by the physical constraints of these applications.

Wireless works ideally for low power, which makes it well suited for rechargeable batteries. Wired LAN typically requires a wired power connection. However, Power over Ethernet (PoE) enables the same cable that carries data to also carry power. With a cabled infrastructure installed, In essence, nullifying this advantage of wireless as long as some kind of cabled infrastructure needs to be installed.

In terms of data rate capacity, wired performs best. Wired connectivity takes advantage of a dedicated channel that can be duplicated to bond multiple lanes of the same data together. There is no limit to the number of channels that can be ganged together to scale data rate. The main disadvantage of wireless is it shares the same media with all other devices and interference sources. This always has the susceptibility of lower signal to noise within your channel and degrading throughput.

Wired connectivity makes a better choice for security. It does not intentionally transmit data into the air. Using a fiber connection can completely block emissions. Wireless, on the other hand, broadcasts into the air depends on software security based on encryption. Although encryption algorithms can be mathematically unbreakable, encryption key exchanges and software vulnerabilities make the security challenging to defend.

Wired LAN several advantages at the high data rates. However, with beam forming technology, wireless catching up and may surpass wired LAN. The exception is fiber optics. If you want to go to 10Gbps and achieve long range, such as several km, fiber becomes the only option. Otherwise, you can make the range work with either wired or wireless options.

This leaves the final consideration: cost. Installing copper or fiber connections presents a hefty price and that price only increases with maintenance. Wireless LAN works with fewer infrastructure requirements and offers a lower cost alternative to wired connections.

Wireless technology works well for reducing power constraints, increasing data rates, making security more robust and extending range using beam forming technologies. However, wired LAN connectivity has clear advantages with data rate in many applications and security.

To learn more about Abracon's offering of RJ45 jacks and LAN connectivity solutions visit our page here.

To learn more about Abracon's offering of WiFi connectivity solutions visit our page here.


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