A friend asked me an interesting question about wireless networking…
“wireless network question for you…
I seem to recall reading somewhere that mixing wireless n and wireless g components on the same network will drag the overall speed down to 802.11g levels. If that is the case, does that also apply to iphone 3gs?
That is, if I get my nice new N gigabit router, and update my laptop wireless card will the laptop’s wireless performance suffer when my phone is also on the network, even if it is not actively downloading stuff? ”
That is a good question….
Whenever you mix wireless speeds on a single antenna it drops all connection speeds to that of the slowest device. For example if you connect a G and a B to the same single antenna device both devices will operate at B speeds. However, when you have a dual antenna setup you can set one to N and one G and they will operate at the related speed and not slow each other down.
There is more to the story…B tops out at 11mbs, G at 54mbs and N is around 115mbs.
Most internet connections top out at about 20mbs, so having the ability to run at N speeds to the internet versus G speeds does not buy you anything. That is unless you have a net connection that is greater than 50mbs, which exists. At that point having consumer networking hardware can effect the speed, especially if you are streaming large videos.
That being said, the connections on the local area network, ie computer to computer file sharing between wired computers can run at either 10mbs, 100mbs or 1000mbs depending on your hardware. So if you had a desktop that had a 1000mbs connection on your network, you would see a speed increase using an N network as opposed to a G network. Keep in mind these are theoretical max speeds, and in reality everything operates at about 75% of what the max speed is on the wired side and about 60% on the wireless side, if that.
Wireless networking is flexible and convenient, but it operates on a busy frequency, and to compensate the connection is constantly disconnecting and reconnecting, hundreds of times a minute. While that is not an issue for email and causal web surfing it does become in issue when video streaming/conferencing and or using skype.
To answer your last question every connection takes up some resources for encryption and to maintain state, but with 2 devices on the same network the impact is negligible. However, newer wifi routers have dedicated hardware to deal with encryption, so they will perform better than an equally spec’d older router.