Network speeds–WiFi/Wireless g/N/ac, Wired Gigabit Ethernet, Broadband Internet Connection (Eg, Comcast/Time Warner/Optimum)

Presented below is a table of comparative network speeds.

It is important to know the relative speeds when making purchase decisions on networking.

It is also important to know that network speeds are subject to the principal that they only run as fast as their slowest link. They’re subject to bottlenecks.

For example, no matter how fast your in-building wired Ethernet or WiFi/Wireless speed is, your speed to the public Internet is likely limited to the speed your broadband provider gives you. It provides no benefit to upgrade your internal network, without also upgrading your bandwidth provider with a faster (more expensive) service.

On the other hand, in-building computer-to-computer or computer-to-device or client-server traffic does not touch the global Internet, and doesnt depend on your provider’s bandwith.

There was a time where “wired” was faster than “wireless” but with new innovations in Wirless N and Wireless ac (802.11n, 802.11ac) standards, that’s no longer true. However, BOTH ends (pc, router) have to support the standard to achieve that speed. And laptops sometimes skimp on the WiFi.

The common types of interent to consider, roughly in order slowest to fastest, are:

Broadband Internet
Connects the network in your building to the outside world, the wider public internet, the WAN (wide-area network). Typically provided by a cable or phone company, eg, Comcast, Time-Warner, Optimum.
Wired networking. Eg, cat5 cables and RJ45 wall outlets.
WiFi / Wireless
To/From the Wireless Network Adapter (NIC) in your laptop, printer, smartphone, tablet over the air to the wireless router, often provided by your broadband provider.

Table of Relative Network Speeds

Broadband Internet (red)
Ethernet (yellow)
WiFi / Wireless (blue)
Description Speed
Low-end residential broadband 5 Mbps
Wirless g, 2.4 GHz band, mid-2000s (54 Mbps nominal, but only 50% efficient) 22.5 Mbps
Wirless N, 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz band, 2010, uses (MIMO), (54 Mbps nominal, but only 50% efficient) 22.5 Mbps
Mid-grade residential broadband 25 Mbps
Starting-level business, Hi-end residential broadband 50 Mbps
Standard Ethernet “Fasternet” (nominal 100 Mbps but only 50% efficient) 50 Mbps
Mid-grade business broadband 100 Mbps
Hi-end business broadband 150 Mbps
Wirless N-150 (MIMO) 150 Mbps
Wirless N-300 (MIMO) 300 Mbps
Wirless N-450 (MIMO) 450 Mbps
New Gigabit Ethernet (nominal 1000 Mbps but only 50% efficient) 500 Mbps
Wirless N-600 (MIMO) 600 Mbps
Wirless AC-1200 (MIMO) 800 Mbps
Wirless N-900 (MIMO) 900 Mbps
Wirless AC-1900 (MIMO) 1000 Mbps


Mbps = Mega-bits per second; divide by 8 to get MBs = Megabytes per second)

MIMO = multiple input and multiple output antennas

You can test your current Internet speed from your current location via

SmallNetBuilder has good educational materials on routers, WiFi, and speed tests and rankings of routers.

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