Dec 132020
 

We all love wireless networking – the untethered laptop, the smartphone, the tablets, the “smart home” stuff. It’s all so convenient.

But it also sucks, and for some things – particularly legacy applications that require a persistent connection – it sucks very hard indeed.

Why?

Fundamentally, wireless uses a shared medium – you’re sharing the airwaves with everyone else who has a wireless access point. Yes there are separate “channels” to help split up that shared medium, but you will still find yourself competing for bits of the airwaves.

Ever try listening to shortwave radio? All that noise, and interference. And every so often someone would break in and start reading out a long string of random numbers in the most boring tone of voice imaginable. That still happens, but instead of getting to peer under the skirt of national security, you get something even more boring – slowdowns and dropouts.

And this is all if you are sat in the same room as your wireless access point! Leave the room and all sorts of issues can arise. The power of wireless drops with distance and all sorts of things can block wireless.

Diagnosing wireless issues is something that takes highly paid specialists hours and frequently involves moving access points (which essentially moves the problem – hopefully to somewhere people won’t notice) or installing more access points (which can make things worse).

With all these problems, it is a wonder that wireless networking works at all. But it does! Most of the time. Perhaps Facebook acts up every once in a while (and just occasionally it is Facebook). Or any other web site. But some applications react badly to periodic drops in performance or ‘moments of silence’.

The purpose of this rant is that when you are having problems with network glitches when working from home, try a wired network connection. Yes getting that set up is tedious and you may need to spend some money, but it’s worth it to avoid all those dents in the desk.

The Red Door
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