Wireless bandwidth is Lower than subscribed bandwidth

I've been trying to find an anser for this for a long time so I decided to try asking again on here.  I have Linksys WRT54G V5 54 Mbps wireless router.  I'm running XP Pro on all of my machines.  I have 5mbps cable internet.  When I do a speed test from one of my wired machines I get 5 Mbps.  When I run on from any of my wireless clients it always comes out around 2 Mbps.  When I do these tests I have all om my machines off except the one I'm testing.  I use 128bit wep and mac filtering.  I have tried the tests with neither of these running and recieve the same results.  I am testing this 2 feet from the router.  The wireless client states that connection is excellent 54 Mbps.  I transfered the same file between the same 2 computers inside my lan.  Once wired, a second time wireless.  The file was 550MB.  The wired transfer took right around a minute.  The wireless took a little bit over 6 minutes.  So my question is if the router does 54 Mbps and my internet bandwidth is 5 Mbps how can I get my wireless client to use it all??
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
Your wireless connection has inherent factors that must be overcome...

#1 is AIR

that is generally the main problem...not neccessarilty the atmosphere that we breathe. but what it takes to get a Wireless connection.

You mentioned WEP-128 encryption.  Well, to send the data from your machine to the router.. it takes a translator to encode your information to secret-secret, package it up then send it out to a transmitter, it needs to fly by carrier pidgeon to the receiver, then when the package delivered the courier must unpack the information, and use Enigma to decode the classified files.

*** turn WEP 128bit OFF, then attempt your speedtest

I mentioned our poor carrier pidgeon...how far did that bird fly?  did he stop for some feed? look for his nest? saw some chick along the way?  For all we know he was avoiding Hawks & Vultures after his a$$. We don't know that.

*** how far does our poor bird have to travel?
*** are you in a vicinity with other WIFI networks?...if so, CHANGE the channel
*** is the router LINE OF SIGHT?
*** Perhaps put the router higher in the air for maximum omni-directional broadcast
*** are you using a WAP?

The WIRED connection does NOT have these variables...

Hope that explains it.  :-)

OAC TechnologyProfessional NerdsCommented:
wireless networks also have a high rate of retransmissions. most packets make it to their destination alright, but depending on conditions, a lot have to be resent.
Hi crnp,

there is overhead associated with the wireless.  If I remember correctly there is a header signal associated with transmitting a packet, it signals that info is being transmitted and the destination uses that to sync with the source; some where in there is the SSID and the encryption of that packet; that takes up bandwidth.  If you disable the encryption, you will get slightly improved performance.  But of course there are the resends that occur due to interference from any EMF devices; including the 2.5GHz or 5GHz cordless phones, cell phones, other 802.11b/g/a devices, etc.

I remember on 802.11b, if you were in range to get 11mb the highest speed possible, with all of the overhead you would be getting about 5mb effectively.

as for the 802.11g with the 54mb throughput, if everything was perfect and there was no interference, you should be able to get about the same proportion.   The only thing I can think of is that there is environmental interference that this taxing your system. (lots of EMF).

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crnpAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the quick responses.  It still doesn't make sense to me.  I've tried with out any encryption or things like that and get the same results.  I don't understand that even with all of 'overhead' out of 54mbps It seems I should be able to get a little bit more than 2mbps.  If the b in perfect condition could get around 5mbps shouldn't I be able to pull atleast 15 or 20 mbps from the G??
lets test that, as it goes it should be considerably greater than what you are getting.

Please see what happens if you copy something from the wired PC to the wireless PC.  

that will get the internet out of the equation.

crnpAuthor Commented:
I did that.  I posted it in my question.  But I took a 550MB file and trasfered wired, it took about a minute.  I then did it wirelessly and it took a little over 6 minutes.
oops sorry, I missed that part.

so ouch, we've just narrowed it down to the wireless with and without the encryption.  If the wireless PC is next to the access point, then sadly the hardware is not performing up to specs.  And the question becomes, is it the wireless card or the access  point.  

If you can get your hand on a spare wireless card, then we can test with that.  

crnpAuthor Commented:
Ill try to find an extra one either today or tomorrow.  The one I'm using is built into the laptop.  I have a second linksys wireless router ver2 (currently using 5) that I dug out of the closet and I get the same results.  So if it is a piece of hardware I bet its in my laptop.  
Take your PC and change the environment, take it to a friends house, work or a hotspot... just somehere else, that does not use the same brand Wireless Card and Router.

You're right it whould not be like that, and probably you could save some time and hassle from trying to fix something that anyway you cannot fix.

like said above, try with another set of devices and you'll see the problem... maybe an RMA wouldn't be a bad Idea.

If you have the same problem after trying on another wireless network, then use ANOTHER computer on YOUR network...

It seems extreme but you've covered the basics..

Yikes,  so it may be something that is not easily replaceable...

2 little sidenotes, probably not news to any of you.

1. Linksys, while enjoying a HUGE market share of wireless networking is not high quality equipment, and I view it as mediocre at best. I have yet to absolutely fall head over heels about any Wireless product line (Parkervision WAS heading in a good direction, Cisco rocks for those who can justify that kind of cost, I have heard good things about Buffalo).

2. The technology is simply not perfected, or even mastered in my eyes. We have research engineers mad-dashing toward multiple-Giga Wireless and meanwhile they can't even get 802.11G down pat. I can see, like cell phone manufacturers/carriers, wi-fi companies regard concrete reliability as highly as they do their customer's feelings. They are far more concerned with more features and impressive numbers that mean almost nothing in the real world. (108 SuperG blow anyone's mind out there?....mine either).

Sad but true, wireless will not ever, can not ever match a wired connection. Not until they discover an unused set of waves in the electromagnetig spectrum. Just wait until all this extra (HD-TV, FM-HD, what ever else is right around the corner) radio waves are hitting us. 802.11 doesn't stand a chance.
"how can I get my wireless client to use it all??"

You cant get the wireless client up to the speed of the wired.  That is the way it works.  The overhead in running the wirelss is 32% and the packet loss, no matter how close is another 15%, so there is no way that a wireless can equal the speed of a cable connect.  Did not they tell you this when you did wireless?
How many computers are sharing the WAP?  The 54 Mbps is the total bandwidth to/from the WAP for all wireless connections combined.  If you have two comptuers and they are both attempting to do tranfer a large file, they will get about 1/2 of the bandwidth.

Wireless is half duplex (expect for the new MMIO, I think that is what it is called).  When running full duplex the computer sending the file  can be sending data while receiving ack's at the same exact time.  

When running half duplex, the computer sending the file must pause and wait for the computer receiving the file to send an ack before it can continue sending.  The computer receiving the file must wait until the sender stops sending before it can send an ack.

Generally in half duplex you will be lucky to get 70% of the rated bandwidth.

How are you coping the files?  Using NETBIOS file shares?  Try using FTP.  NETBIOS is super chatty and you may be lucky to get 50% of the rated bandwidth when running half duplex.

I can't remember where but I do remember reading that even with 54 Mbps (6.75 MBps) wireless the best you can really expect it about 16-20 Mbps (2 - 2.5 MBps).  Doing my own testing using Linksys WAP and Wireless card on a laptop (both with speedbost) I get about 1-2 MBps with 80% signal strength.
Your performance test sounds like it is as good as you can expect.  These guys found that "regular 802.11g could only muster 17.3Mbps.", which is six times slower than 100 Mbps wired Ethernet.

bottom line: 54MBPS may describe the connection speed, but not the transfer rate. Its kind of like horsepower. 100 HP is a ton for a street bike, but will barely get a full-sized pickup moving.
"how can I get my wireless client to use it all??"

You cant get the wireless client up to the speed of the wired.  That is the way it works.  The overhead in running the wirelss is 32% and the packet loss, no matter how close is another 15%, so there is no way that a wireless can equal the speed of a cable connect.  Did not they tell you this when you did wireless?
scrathcyboy, he wasn't asking how to get wireless up to the same speed as wired, he was asking how to get is computer to get the full throughput of a 54 mbps connections and wireless not only can equal the speed of cable but beat it.  In fact his test shows this.

crnp, after thinking about it again.  Based on your test of 550 MB in about 6 minutes, this is somewhere between 1.5 and 1.3 MBps  (Big B or bytes) per second.  This is between 9 and 12 Mbps (little b, or bits)  which is faster than your cable speed of 5 Mbps.

You may have an issue with MTU.  Windows defualt to a MTU of 1500, most cable (and DLS) systems use PPPoE which uses a MTU of 1492.  This mean when you send a 1500 byte frame it will be broken down in to smaller frames.  This will reduce your speed/throughput.  You way want to set your MTU to 1492 and retes your Internet rate.  This will do nothing for your transfers between computers.
One solution you could use costs ~ $150-$250
this solution entails purchasing 480 MBPS wireless cards and router.  they will **Hopefully** make it up to at least 54 MBPS, 100 MBPS if you are luckey.
crnpAuthor Commented:
So I took my laptop to 2 of my friends houses who both have 1Mbps internest connections.  I logged into their wan and did a bandwidth check.  I received the full 1Mbps  

If the overhead takes out half of my bandwidth shouldnt it have only given me around 500kbps bandwidth at each location?  One was a linksys 54Mb router and the other was a Dlink 54mbps
Umm, no.  The overhead is on the wirelss side, not the wired/Internet side.

I'm still concerened about your other tests.  As I said before, your file transfer test showed that you are getting 9-12 Mbps throughput on the wireless to wired transfer, but yet your Internet bandwidth test you stated you only got 2 Mbps.  Something is wrong there.

Try issuing the following command from your laptop:

     ping -c 1 -f -l 1472 www.apple.com

If you are using PPPoE, you will get an error from something stating the the packet needs to be fragmented.  If you do, then you may improve performance by setting your laptops MTU to 1492.
crnpAuthor Commented:
when I try to ping that from cmd it states that -c is a bad option.  (as in there is no -c command listed with all of the commands like -l)
I think he ment -v like ToF(type of service)...

Your test was good, but not able to determine since the internet connection is not the same available bandwidth...
you need to take YOUR "similiar" environment to do the test.. IF you could borrow your friend router Equip. for a while, then or just fine someone else with the same 5 Megs... then the test your work great... remember we are not testing the internet but the fact that your Wireless equipment could not be working at it's best.

so the exchange stuff is to try another router with similar bandwidth condition and tranfer rate...

Opps, I actually meant:

    ping -n 1 -f -l 1472 www.apple.com

In Linux -c is the "count" of ping packets to send, in Windows -n is the "number" of pings to send.
crnpAuthor Commented:
giltjr:  Here is a copy of my results.

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

C:\Documents and Settings\Oiad>ping -n 1 -f -l 1472 www.apple.com

Pinging www.apple.com.akadns.net [] with 1472 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=56 (sent 1472) time=52ms TTL=245

Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 1, Received = 1, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 52ms, Maximum = 52ms, Average = 52ms

CKWT : Ill find a similar router and try it at home.  I'll find another wifi laptop or card to try as well.
excellent... Good luck, hopefully you could play with it enough to determine; If it's your Wireless Card or your Router...

Looks good.  If you still get lower than 5Mbps when testing from your wireless connection you may want to install a packet capture tool (I use Ethereal, http://www.ethereal.net) and run a capture while running the test.  Look and verify that on the download part of the test that you are getting packets that are 1500 bytes with 1460 bytes of data.

I'm not sure where are you testing your performance, but you may want to try using:


to test your settings.  This is not a performace test, but a test of your TCP and IP settings.  It may show something that can be tweaked to improve your performance.
I used to have a belkin oruter.  It was like watching golf trying to download something- it takes forever.  I baught a netgear router, not any problems with speed :).  You should buy a new router.   Please tell me if you think I am incorrect, community.
crnpAuthor Commented:
Sorry about taking so long everybody, thanks for the help though.  I will be testing a different wireless card tonight. I will post results tomorrow.
excellent and good luck

crnpAuthor Commented:
So this is something strange.  I havn't tried another card yet, but I got better speads.  I installed the vista build 5365 beta last night on a separate partion the same laptop.  When I perform the speed test with the windows vista beta I can reach around 3.5Mbs, but when I boot the Xp I still am stuck around 2Mbps.  
Is the version/release of the driver the same under XP and Vista?  Could be a driver issue.  Do you have the most recent driver from the vendor for XP?

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to check the driver version in XP, and maybe Vista, press Windows Key + Break/Pause then clik Hardware.  Next click Device Manager dubble click on the device.  Click on Driver.  Now you see the driver version.
Sorry about taking so long everybody, thanks for the help though.  I will be testing a different wireless card tonight. I will post results tomorrow.

So this is something strange.  I havn't tried another card yet

WE ARE ALL WAITING I GUESS??, aren't we...?

Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@Granmod....The question "So my question is if the router does 54 Mbps and my internet bandwidth is 5 Mbps how can I get my wireless client to use it all?"

Has already been answered....further comments by the asker was to troubleshoot the WIFI configuration.

With that said, the limiting factor is the hardware.  The installation of Windows Vista improved the performance, and more than likely any speed difference would be due to the current configuration of the once XP system.  Since full throughput has NOT been established with a fresh install, then the limiting factor would be in the hardware's quality of effectiveness.

Again, the question has been answered...and to support the troubleshooting after reviewing all the previous comments made, all experts here assisted in directing to the conclusion that.

"the hardware is bad"

crnpAuthor Commented:
You could split it between everybody if points are going out.

I updated to the current vista driver for the wifi card and I get the full 5mbps.  So the hardware isn't bad.  All of my XP settings and drivers are up to date.  Everybody did help trouble shoot what the problem wasn't.  So I would split it between all of my original troubleshooters.
Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@crnp...it is preferred that you award the points yourself...you can do this by locating "SPLIT POINTS" just above the comment box.

Thank you in advance.

Aloha from Hawaii,

Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
cool. thank you!
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