Many groups use a wireless network to connect machines in their office. Some are successful, some are not as successful.
The article below explains why disconnects and slowness may occur. OASIS is a program where users are constantly moving data back and forth across the network, thus it's recommended to use a wired connection whenever possible.
Protocols and WiFi
WiFi is a relatively new type of network, and many of the protocols for transferring data were optimized for networks before wireless was a standard. From the Wikipedia article on WiFi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi ):
“The Internet protocol performs poorly in the face of noise when run with WiFi as the physical layer. TCP has been tuned for a wired network in which packets lost due to noise is very rare and packets are lost almost exclusively due to congestion. On a wireless network, noise is common. This difference causes TCP to greatly slow or break transmission when noise is significant, even when most packets are still arriving correctly.”
For a more descriptive version of this, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_Control_Protocol#TCP_over_wireless_networks
Diagnosing WiFi issues
Wireless interference is a major problem when dealing with wireless networks. Here are some common items that may cause issues when within the range of your network:
To summarize, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing to use a wireless network:
- TCP/IP: TCP was designed with wired networks in mind. Wireless noise will be interpreted as congestion, and the throughput will be adjusted accordingly. As your throughput decreases, so will your ability to transmit enough data to keep a connection.
- Throughput: A wireless network can handle only so much data going in and out at one time. A typical g band router can go for around 50 Mbps, which if you run it through Google gives you 6.25 MBps. That’s shared between all devices currently on the network, so if you divide that by even a small number, that can reduce your ability to quickly and consistently transfer data. (By contrast, most wired setups operate at either 100 Mbps (12.5 MBps) or 1 Gbps (128 MBps)).
- Range: The further you are from the source, the worse the connection is. A good example of this is radio stations. You may be able to listen at a reasonable distance, but as you get further away, the quality deteriorates.
- Hardware: Aside from printers, routers are probably the worst devices to work with. They often go bad, and for a good reason! They are constantly being sent data, and having to re-route them through the network/internet. As those devices are used, they get hot. Heat will wear out the router faster, so keep that in mind when dealing with the average wireless network.
This is not a complete set of issues, but many of these issues are common when dealing with wireless networks. Please be sure to keep these in mind when choosing your network.