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Can You Use WiFi and Ethernet at the Same Time?

/ Categories: Blogs, Fiber Internet
Can You Use WiFi and Ethernet at the Same Time? 463

Nearly every home and workplace has multiple devices connected to the internet at any given time. However, not all of them might be fully taking advantage of potential internet speeds, particularly if you have high-speed fiber internet.

Using the best connection method for each device can significantly boost your device's performance by granting it access to higher internet speeds. So if you have ever wondered if you can use WiFi and Ethernet at the same time, keep reading for a detailed breakdown.

Differences between WiFi and Ethernet

Speed and Setup

Ethernet: offers a fast and reliable internet connection at all times. However, the physical cable requirement makes it mostly useful for stationary setups. For instance, consoles like the Xbox One can take full advantage of the internet via Ethernet cables, as can computers.

Additionally, because physical cables are required to connect via Ethernet, you have more control over who connects to your network at all times.

WiFi: provides convenience and mobility; multiple smart devices can connect to the internet at once. But the flexibility sometimes comes at the cost of variable speeds affected by router quality, obstructions, and other factors.

While WiFi doesn’t offer security as tight as Ethernet does, you can still check out anyone connected to your network via WiFi.

Security and Cost Considerations

Ethernet: When using Ethernet cables, only people with direct access to your physical cable will be able to connect to your internet network. Nobody outside of cabled rooms can access your network, making it one of the safest and most secure ways to set up WiFi.

The downside is that if you have many devices spread out over a large area or multiple rooms, the cost of cables can add up to a significant amount. But the additional cost might be worth the investment to fully take advantage of fiber internet's fast speeds.

WiFi: vulnerable with higher security risks due to being accessible from outside your home or workplace. However, there are many steps you can take to make your WiFi more secure, like using a strong password.

Due to WiFi’s flexibility, infrastructure costs can be considerably lower while offering a wide range of connectivity for pretty much every modern device.

Using WiFi and Ethernet Simultaneously on One Device

Speed Dynamics with Combined Connections

It’s important to understand that if you decide to connect a single device with both WiFi and Ethernet, the speed will only add up to your ISP's contracted speed. For instance, if you connect a device to Ethernet and WiFi to a 100Mbps connection, you won’t have 200Mbps, but rather only 100Mbps at best.

It’s also worth noting that most devices will only use a single connection at any given time. Since Ethernet is usually faster and more stable, it’s the preferred option over WiFi for many devices.

Different ISPs and Connection Types

If you’re using both WiFi and Ethernet connections from different ISPs, then you might increase your bandwidth total to boost your network performance. While it’s possible to combine them together, this is an incredibly unusual scenario.

Practical Usage and Limitations

Having both WiFi and Ethernet connections on a single device from the same ISP is usually only beneficial as a redundancy in case one of them goes down.

While there are very particular cases where you can take advantage of such systems, like using a dual-WAN router, these are not for regular usage and are mostly reserved for heavy network usage for cloud servers and workplaces. Regular network usage, like streaming or gaming, does not require or benefit from this.

Pros and Cons of Dual Connectivity in Households

Pros of Combined WiFi and Ethernet Setup

Having both options in any household or workplace can significantly optimize your network usage. Using Ethernet cables for stationary computers and consoles allows them to use 100% of your speed potential, as well as lower latency. 

Meanwhile, WiFi can cover most other smart devices, like phones, tablets, and laptops. It’s a balanced setup that covers a wide range of devices across a large area and allows for streaming, gaming, and browsing from any device.

Cons of Mixed Network Setup

Ethernet cable setup and maintenance can become costly and time-consuming if you require cables across long distances in many rooms. If there are many obstructions, setting up a WiFi network might require additional routers or switches, which can increase the cost and require knowledge to set everything up correctly.

The ideal setup is only adding enough Ethernet cables for computers and consoles and keeping them in a single room, while the WiFi covers everything else.

Picking between WiFi and Ethernet

You can absolutely use both WiFi and Ethernet at the same time. However, most of the time, this is redundant if you’re using it on a single device. The optimal setup is splitting your usage between rooms and devices to utilize Ethernet where necessary, since this is the most strict and expensive of the options.

Since WiFi is the best and most flexible of the two, it’s the most common in pretty much every home or workplace around the globe. It can easily distribute fiber optic internet speeds to multiple devices at once. If you still don’t have it, check out Fidium Fiber plans right now for the best fiber internet service you can get!