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WiFi vs Ethernet for Streaming: Which is Best?

WiFi will always be a desirable and convenient way for us to access the internet, requiring only the device we’re using and no messy wires. Despite WiFi being the newer and shinier way to connect to the internet though, it doesn’t mean its the most reliable and best option for streamers to go for. 

Before going live, you should aways consider which type of internet connection is best to go for, depending on your stream’s purpose, professionalism, goals and more. If you’re not live streaming while on the go, why not stick to using a reliable ethernet connection to avoid your stream lagging or cutting out unexpectedly? 

The Zidivo team are going to set the record straight on which type of internet connection you should be using and why.

What’s the difference between ethernet and WiFi?

WiFi

In a nutshell, WiFi refers to wireless internet technology. You don’t need any extra equipment besides the device you plan to stream on whether its your smartphone or laptop, and a WiFi router/hub. 

Ethernet

Ethernet connections are simply the opposite; they are wired connections which need an ethernet cable to connect your device to the internet hub. If you plan to connect a number of devices, you will also need crossover cables and a network switch, so there can be a lot more kit involved.

WiFiEthernet
SpeedFast depending on your router, whether your device can support the speed and your proximity to the router. Fast with no bandwidth reduction even when far away from the router.
ReliabilitySignal becomes less reliable the further away you are.Hugely stable connection, no interference.
SecurityLess private. WiFi connections can be interfered with if multiple devices are connected to a router.Highly secure - no one can connect unless they have a cable to do so.
LatencySome latency, dependent on where you in proximity to your router when streaming and how much interference there is.Little to no latency.
FlexibilityNo cables - can be connected to from anywhere within range of the router e.g. can connect from different rooms without extra wiring.Requires wiring from your device to a router and may need a network switch to connect several devices.
SetupCan be easy to setup - will usually need a password.Quick and easy - simply plug in a cable with no passwords required. Cables are cheap to buy.

When should you use an ethernet connection?

When it comes to the debate on WiFi vs ethernet for streaming, ethernet is arguably a better option for streaming the majority of the time. It provides you with a dedicated connection rather than using a WiFi router that multiple other devices can connect to and interfere with. Ethernet connections require a cable to be directly connected to your device, meaning you don’t have the worry of who else might connect to your router mid-way through your stream and cause it to lag or even cut out. 

WiFi may claim to offer high speeds but this doesn’t take into account the potential interference, devices used, proximity to the device and much more - all of which can effect not only the speed but the security of your stream. 

When conducting important, professional and pre-organised live streams, whether its on your own site or another persons site, its important to remove as much risk as possible and find the best internet solution. Ethernet connections don’t dip in and out or let you down, unless you are to physically unplug the cable yourself. 

For those doing gaming streams or any type of stream for that matter, there’s nothing worse than your stream lagging. The whole point of a live stream is your audience want to watch you in real-time, something that an ethernet connection can always provide. There is little to no latency or ‘lag’ when connected to an ethernet cable, unlike WiFi where there can be delays due to a multitude of factors. 

Last but not least, you should always use ethernet connections when you need to ensure complete security of your stream. With ethernet connections only being established directly through a cable, no one can interfere or tamper with your files and everything is kept private. 

When should you use a WiFi connection?

It may sound like we’re advising you to always use ethernet, but WiFi can also be effective for streaming, just in the right situations. 

Think of the accessibility and ease of use that WiFi offers, for example, for live streams where you want to be able to move around or stream on the go, WiFi can be your only option and still do the job just as well. It’s all down to where you are, how powerful your router is, how many others are connected to the router and whether your device is able to support the strength of the connection consistently. 

WiFi can be ideal for instances where you want minimal equipment, no wires to tie you down and a flexible connection location wise, it’s just less reliable by nature. 

Which offers a better connection overall?

Overall, ethernet does offer streamers a better connection, simply down to the reliability, speed, security and consistency of the connection it can offer. Of course though, ethernet connections aren’t always possible if you want to move around. 

Before going live, its always worth testing the speed of both a WiFi and ethernet connection to see which gets the best results. Ultimately, think about the purpose of your live stream, if you want your latency to be non-existent, aim for an ethernet connection, but if you want an animated and dynamic stream, WiFi can be just as effective. 

The Zidivo platform supports all types of internet connections, enabling you to go live from any device of your choice with minimal hassle. For professional streams on your site, you can brand up our white label players to represent your brand, set restrictions for who has access to your stream to make it a more exclusive event. Start a free 30-day trial of the Zidivo software today!

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