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Can Wireless G routers slow down a 15Mbps internet speed?

Ok, I just got off the phone with Linksys tech support and I am not believing what they said.  Here's the back story:

I just upgraded my cable internet connection to a speed of 15Mbps download / 2Mbps upload (a.k.a. 15x2) with what they called power boost to insure that I get and maintain those actual speeds.  I hooked my modem directly to my computer with a CAT6 cable and tested the speeds on three different speed test benchmark websites.  All three of them put me at an average speed of 16.8Mbps x 1.9Mbps.  The next step was to hook the modem to my Linksys router (WRT54G2) and hook the router to my computer.  I did just that and ran the speed tests again with the same results.  Overjoyed at this fact I brought all three laptops that are in my house into the room (all with a "G" internal wireless card) to test them on the wireless part of the router.  My results were confusing.

I ran multiple speed tests on all three benchmark websites on all three laptops and I consistently got the same results: 4.5Mbps x 1.9 Mbps.  Thinking that it must be a setting that I've overlooked, I toyed with the settings on the wireless portion of the router interface to no avail.  This prompted the phone call to Linksys tech suport.  I was speaking to a female that sounded like she was reading from a list of troubleshooting steps, all of which I had done already, but I indulged her.  When none of her troubleshooting worked and she had gone back and forth to her "technical advisor" I was eventually handed off to her supervisor who promptly told me that the speeds that I was experiencing were, in fact, normal.  This made no sense to me at all.  He kept saying that the network speed will be cut in half when you switch to wireless "G" and that I should upgrade to a wireless "N" in order to maintain optimal speeds.  I told him that I understand that wireless "G" was basically half of a normal wired network (assuming 100Mbps speeds) but that it shouldn't cut my internet speeds by two thirds.  He insisted that it will do just that and that I should get the "N" router.  Seeing this going nowhere, I conceded his point and ended the phone conversation.  

I have no other wireless devices in the area nor do I have any electrical devices that could cause interference.  

Is this guy correct?  Could a wireless "G" device really degrade my internet connection by that much?
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Qube-It
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Qube-It
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4 Solutions
 
wantabe2Commented:
When you say degrade your Internet connection when you're using a wired connection the answer is no. If you using wireless then the answer is yes. 802.11G has a max speed of 54m but the real truth is you actually just get around 20 - 30 meg of speed. If you upgrade your wireless router to N you still would not be any faster. You'd need an N card to bet the full 100meg of speed but remember true throuput is only about 60 -70 meg. Now, you say you had 3 wireless devices doing speed test at the same time... all those 3 laptops was sharing the 54m connection (really about 20 -30 meg) so what you put in your post would be correct.
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Qube-ItAuthor Commented:
I'm sorry, I didn't mean that I was testing on all three at the same time.  I meant that I used three separate laptops to test the speed at three separate times (actually about 9 separate times).  

I have also heard that you really only get 20-30 Mbps with wireless "G" but that still is faster than my internet speed which is at 17Mbps download.

The funny thing about all of this is that my upload speed is maintained at 1.9Mbps when I switch over to wireless, but my download speed is reduced by two thirds to 4.5 Mbps.  
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wantabe2Commented:
That's because of throughput on wireless. actual throughput in wireless LANs is product and set-up-dependent. Factors that affect throughput include the number of users, propagation factors such as range and multipath, the type of wireless LAN system used, as well as the latency and bottlenecks on the wired portions of the LAN. Data rates for the most widespread commercial wireless LANs are in the 1.6 Mbps range. I hope this helps to understand it a little better.
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Qube-ItAuthor Commented:
So you're telling me that a "54 Mbps" wireless router is really only going to get 1.6 Mbps most of the time?  I just find that amazing.  I guess these wireless companies have been showing consumers a porche but giving them a pinto the past several years?  I am truly dumbfounded.

What are they purporting wireless "N" speeds to be? Do I need to divide that by 50 as well?  :lol:
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wantabe2Commented:
No, 54mbps, 802.11g you will get around 20 - 30 mbps depending on numerous variables.

Anytime you see a wireless speed in mbps that is the "best" you may get & is basically a standard. 802.11n is 0ver 100mbps & you actually do get closer to what they say with N due do MIMO technology. The only way to get a full 54mbps connection is to have a N wireless card connected to a G router.
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Qube-ItAuthor Commented:
<Quote from wantabe2:
          "No, 54mbps, 802.11g you will get around 20 - 30 mbps depending on numerous variables."
>

That confirms what I read a while back which brings me back to my original question...

Since I should be able to at least get 20 Mbps of bi-directional speed wirelessly with my 802.11 g Linksys (WRT54G2) router and my internet speeds have been at 17 Mbps on average (while directly connected to the router), why, then, am I only getting 4.5 Mbps download speeds from the internet when I'm wirelessly connected?  

The reason that was given to me by Linksys was that those speeds are normal.  From my point of view, that is simply not true.  

The main reason I'm asking is that I want to know if all 802.11 g routers really do have this problem so that I can make a more informed purchasing decision in the future.  If they don't, then I am going to file a complaint against Linksys customer support.  
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wantabe2Commented:
Yes, you'll experience this problem with all 802.11g wireless routers & access points. Good Luck!
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Qube-ItAuthor Commented:
wantabe2, I am sorry if my tone sounds as if I have an attitude towards you, it's just that I couldn't believe that this was true.  

Ok, I borrowed a friend of mine's exact same router and I go the exact same results.  Not too happy about that.  As you can tell, I'm a hobbyist so I'm not up on the finite details of this equipment, so it amazes me that this kind of "Bait & Switch" has been put on consumers.  I had to do quite a bit of digging around to find a deeper explanation to this (because I'm just that much of a geek), and here's the best explanation of what I found (for anyone who reads this thread in the future):

http://reviews.cnet.com/routers/802-11g-wireless-dsl/4505-3319_7-20912424.html

My speeds probably also have something to do with my actual wireless card as well (as wantabe2 alluded to).  So the conclusion I've come to is to either get a wireless "N" router or wire up my house with CAT6 cables.  I will probably do the latter since I don't have the card for "N" routers and I don't really want to get one either.

Thanks again wantabe2!
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Qube-ItAuthor Commented:
Thanks again.  Sorry for the sarcasm.  It wasn't intended for you.
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bmilne1957Commented:
Most cable companies issue a DOCSIS.1 modem, though they say they can handle the higher bandwidth, they can not. Purchase a DOCSIS 2.0 modem and your problems will be resolved. Myself and four other in NW Florida have done this with COX and we all report bandwidth speeds as advertised.
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bmilne1957Commented:
Also, I use two routers. One for Ethernet and one for Wireless. Branch a wireless router off of the Ethernet router and you will have less problems overall and faster Ethernet. I don't have empirical data on this but when using one router for wireless and Ethernet - there seems to be an issues in the  router when trying to talk between a wireless device and a cabled device on the same router. This is why I separated them initially. I then found my cabled connections running faster.
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