Coax vs Ethernet

Coax vs Ethernet

Coaxial cables were once used to connect buildings and rooms, but they’re now primarily associated with TV signal reception. Ethernet is the default wire type that comes in most cases when you set up an Internet connection through a cable modem or DSL modems – it provides faster speeds than coaxials do because of its higher bandwidth capacity (100MBit/s vs 10Mbit). This means if your house has multiple people connected at different locations who want access simultaneously, then going for ethernet would be ideal over Coax

So how do coaxial cables compare to Ethernet cables as far as Internet speeds and transfer speeds are concerned?

Comparison Chart

CategoriesCoaxialEthernet
Raw Bitrate Potential100 megabits (100,000,000 bits) per second1,000 megabits or 1 gigabit (1,000,000,000 bits) per second*

 

*It can go up to 10 Gbps or 400 Gbps

Speedtest.net25-50 Mbps25-50 Mbps
Speedof.met40-42 Mbps50 Mbps
Local File Transfer10 Mbps589 Mbps 


What Is Coaxial?

A coax or coaxial cable is an electrical cable type that can be used for your Internet connection, satellite or cable television, and cable Internet. It’s characterized by having an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer that is then covered by a tubular conducting shield.

You can get your coaxial cable as thinner as in the case of RG6 cables to allow for bending on sharp corners when doing home installations or as thicker RG11 cables to allow for less attenuation or signal loss over a given cable length at the higher cost of inflexible cables.

Many of these cables come with an insulating outer jacket or sheath. The coaxial term is named after the outer shield and inner conductor sharing a geometric axis. Amazingly, an English mathematician, engineer, and physicist by the name of Oliver Heaviside invented the coax way back in the 19th Century, with the patent for the design occurring back in 1880. Coaxial cables remain a dependable method of carrying high-frequency electrical signals with low losses, especially when you use the thicker variants like RG11 but at the cost of flexibility.

What Is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a family or group of computer network tech typically used in metropolitan area networks or MAN, wide area networks or WAN, and local area networks or LAN. It was in the 1980s when it was commercially introduced and then standardized as IEEE 802.3 in 1983. Since then, it has retained quite a bit of backward compatibility, such that it’s been refined to do longer link distances and support higher bit rates. As time went on, Ethernet replaced ARCNET, FDDI, and Token Ring wired LAN tech. Ethernet refers to the solid form or twisted pair of cables in slang. The current favored Ethernet cable is Category 6 (CAT6) and Category 7 (CAT7).

The original Ethernet of 10BASE5 used the shared medium of the coaxial cable. Meanwhile, current Ethernet providers in the modern age of the 21st Century instead use fiber optics and twisted pairs along with switches to work for a faster connection. Throughout its existence, Ethernet cable data transfer rates went from 2.94 megabits per second to 400 gigabits per second. The standards of Ethernet today comprise several signaling and wiring variants of the OSI physical layer in use with the technology.

Speed Tests and Test Parameters

Is coax slower than plain Ethernet? It should be given all things are equal, but there are some variables to take into consideration that might make coax the preferred choice over Ethernet. To create a fair environment for the test, a complete home network should be created using DirecTV wiring and equipment. Although the fastest Ethernet on the planet can go as fast as 400 Gbps, you might only be able to afford a limit of 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps; otherwise, you might have to pay extra and special packages to go as high as 10 Gbps from a straight CAT6 Ethernet connection to the router.

There will be some slowdown, so it becomes less about the raw capabilities of an Ethernet cable versus a coax cable since there’s the additional variable of Internet provider speeds. The debate suddenly changes: Does your provider throttle speeds so much that a coaxial is able to reach close to the speeds of your Ethernet cable package? There might end up with significant speed degradation to your Ethernet versus your coax even though your computer lists down a 100 Mbps Ethernet to 300 Mpbs wireless connection.

Running Through Speedtest.net

The most commonly used speed test for Internet speeds online is Speetest.net. It gets a good sense of user speed by transmitting media files of varying sizes. It also doesn’t store any info on the user’s computer like certain other tests, so you’ll get to test only the raw Internet speed instead of your machine’s disk speed. The results of the website’s speed test shouldn’t be too surprising.

The provider dictates speed, after all. Whether coax, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet connect you, the results should be about the same since it’s provider-dependent. A typical homeowner should get 25 Mbps up or 50 Mbps down. It’s hard to show that Internet speeds over coax are slower than compared to Ethernet when the provider throttles the speed potential of the customer by the 50 Mbps limit on the bitrate.

Making Use of Speedof.me

Aside from Speedtest.net, you can also make use of Speedof. me to test your Internet speeds depending on your connection. A different system of testing Internet speeds is used by Speedof.me compared to Speedtest.net. This time, the site sends multiple different-sized files and then stores them on your local hard drive. It’s the next best test to get if there’s a possibility that using the hard drive would cause coax networking speed drops or not.

When using this test, there’s a slight difference in speed between the Ethernet cables and coax and the Wi-Fi network. The difference is about 16%, or about 8-10 Mbps of the total speed lost between coax and Ethernet. There were drops in speed equally with the coax and Wi-Fi. The speed drop is probably due to the local hard drive’s read-and-write speeds. Even though 8-10 Mbps is a significant drop, at least, it’s not an 80% drop reported by certain users who use coax versus Ethernet.

Local File Transfer

If a speed difference were to be found between Ethernet and coax cables, then a local test is your best bet because you’re not dealing with network limits imposed by your provider that almost make your Internet speeds by Ethernet coax identical. A good way to test speeds locally is to copy an 807-megabyte file from place to place, then time the actual transfer time with a +/- 1-second margin of error to consider.

The main variable that affects speeds is the speed limit of the drive that can’t go all the way up to 1,000 Mbps on the Ethernet test. It can instead top off at more than half or 589 Mbps when undergoing file reception. The Wi-Fi is particularly poor when it comes to filing transfers as though it’s using the Internet to conduct the transfer while the coaxial performed just about the same, give or take slowdowns from the drive itself. So that’s 10 Mbps or 10% of the rated 100 Mbps.

Practical Applications 

Ethernet cables are typically utilized on wired networks to link machines and devices such as PCs, routers, and switches to LANs. While the CAT6 and CAT7 cable types are the current modern standards for quality Ethernet cable action, CAT5 remains viable and in use among quite a several households. However, coaxial cables are more useful with large office buildings due to their flexibility, and decent signal delivery as longer lengths depend on your computer’s Internet speeds and drive speeds. Coaxial are highly shielded, thus allowing them to carry signals at longer distances or bigger multiple-floor networks even though they have a lower speed potential than Ethernet cables.

The Bottom Line

This difference in drop depends on how fast a package you’ve availed of with your Ethernet. If you go beyond 50Mbps, 80% drops are possible when switching to coax and Wi-Fi. What’s more, the speed limit of the drive can also affect the effectiveness of coax versus Ethernet, with the coax suffering the brunt of the slowdown as dictated by the limits of the hard drive. In other words, while the speed potential of Ethernet cables is higher than coaxial cables, other variables such as network provider speeds and the speed of your hard drive make them roughly equal to each other in terms of signal delivery speeds. Ethernet is more scalable to the forward march of technology, though.

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FAQ

1. What is the difference between coax and Ethernet?

Coax is a type of cable that is used to connect devices, while Ethernet is a type of network that uses cables to connect devices.

2. What are the benefits of using coax over Ethernet?

Coax has a higher bandwidth than Ethernet, meaning it can transmit more data simultaneously. This makes it a better choice for high-traffic applications.

3. What are the benefits of using Ethernet over coax?

Coax is a better choice for high-traffic applications because it has a higher bandwidth than Ethernet. Ethernet is a better choice for more reliable applications, such as hospitals or government facilities.

4. How do I install coax?

Coax is installed by running the cable to the desired location and securing it. Ethernet is installed by connecting devices to a network cable and running the cable to the desired location.

5. How do I install Ethernet?

Ethernet is installed by connecting devices to a network cable and running the cable to the desired location.

6. What is the difference between CAT5 and CAT6 Ethernet cables?

There are two main differences between CAT5 and CAT6 Ethernet cables: the number of wires and the speed. CAT6 cable has more wires than CAT5, allowing faster data transmission.

7. What is the maximum length of an Ethernet cable?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the maximum length of an Ethernet cable will vary depending on the cable type and the environment it is used in. However, a general rule of thumb is that CAT5 Ethernet cable should not be used for distances longer than 100 meters, while CAT6 Ethernet cable can be used for distances up to 300 meters.

8. What is the maximum length of a coax cable?

The coax has a maximum length of about 300′.

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Hey there, I'm James. I created FindDiffer.com, a website that helps people with their tech and electronics questions. I love to help others, and I'm always happy to answer any questions people have about technology! I finished Cornell University a few years ago, and now I live in the US. In my spare time, I like to work on new projects and play around with electronics. I also love spending time with my friends and family. Thanks for checking out my bio!