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Networking is definitely not my strong point and I have a tendency to waffle on so forgive me.

What I am trying to establish is what effect the host and router wireless adapter have on your internet speed.

I recently went to a location where the internet speed was reaching 50Mbps download and 50Mbps upload (via ethernet) as according to ookla speedtest.net. When disconnecting from the Ethernet and using wireless (2m from the router) on my laptop (Wireless Adapter 150Mbps) I receive the same speed give or take a few Mb. However, on my iPhone 4s I received say 34Mbps download from speedtest.net. On another mobile they were receiving 15Mbps, I am not 100% of the make of this phone, but needless to say it was no iphone or samsung galaxy.

Please can someone confirm whether the speed of the adapter on the host and on the router impact on the speed received and if so how would I calculate the likely speed.

  • Adapter speed is only one of many possible variables. – user5025 Jun 13 '14 at 11:57
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Your question seems to break up into two parts, which I will restate in my own words and answer.

Does the speed of the wireless adapter on the client and access point impact the actual throughput?

Yes, this is most certainly a major factor. A 802.11n 3x3:3 dual band adapter and access point will have far better throughput than an 802.11n 1x1:1 single band adapter. In this specific example, you may be looking at over six times the throughput (factoring in the spatial streams, guard interval and bonded channels in 5GHz only).

How would I calculate the expected throughput?

This is much more difficult as there are a large number of factors that will impact the performance. Here is a non-exhaustive list to consider apart from the speed of client/access point:

  • Signal strength between access point and client (impacted by distance, obstructions, etc)
  • Sources of interference
  • Number of clients on the wireless network
  • Amount and types of traffic being carried by the wireless network
  • Capabilities of the access point (airtime fairness features, etc)
  • Security features of the access point (rogue detection, etc)
  • Number of BSSIDs (aka SSIDs, WLANs or wireless networks) being broadcast by the access point
  • Number of other wireless networks in the area
  • Many thanks for your input, this certainly seems to answer my question and lead to a few more that I will research. Are there any tools that you are aware of to calculate things like interference, signal strength. Also any links or resources you know of that may help me on the journey would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again – The Humble Rat Jun 13 '14 at 16:01

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