Slow internet is an unpleasant source of headaches and frustration, especially when you need to get something done quickly or complete deadlines. Nowadays, most things that we do requires an internet connection and I am sure I’m not the only one who had his fair share of internet-related frustrations at home or at work.
You might think that WiFi internet coming from your router is always better and faster than mobile data. But that’s not always the case.
Sometimes technology can be a little baffling, so let me explain why your mobile data is faster than your Wi-Fi.
Mobile Internet can be faster than Wi-Fi when it operates on an LTE network, known as 4G and 5G. When the mobile device is on a 3G network, it is actually slower than Wi-Fi. Speeds for both mobile internet and WiFi are heavily influenced by the systems they’re using and where the device is located / signal strength.
There are a handful of important answers to technical questions that can help to ease your frustrations. Whether you’re looking to speed up your internet or understand why it has a specific problem, I’m here to help.
Because, as we saw already, Mobile Internet is not always faster than Wifi (it shouldn’t be, normally) – although sometimes it is. Let’s get into the depths of the problem and learn everything about it!
Why Is My WiFi Slower than Mobile Internet?
Your mobile internet speed will be affected by whether it’s connected to a 3G network or an LTE (Long Term Evolution) network, usually known as 4G and 5G. The speed differences are:
- The average speed of 3G connections is 0.375 MB/s
- LTE networks such as 4G and 5G can reach speeds of around 200 MB/s
- Wi-Fi speeds range from 7-25 MB/s, but they vary greatly on your actual data plan and the original speed that your router has at its disposal
Mobile data is used in 3G technology. Your mobile device utilizes a built-in cellular antenna to transmit and receive data through cellular service to access mobile data. As such, coverage, network congestion, and the speed and amount of mobile data available on your package are all factors to consider when using 3G.
Your local tower may receive much more traffic at various times of the day. It is typically due to scheduled transitions such as the conclusion of the school day and holiday gatherings. When networks see a spike in traffic, everyone who uses the same tower joins the same data queue, and data speed often slows across the board.
The intensity and range of a Wi-Fi signal, like mobile data, varies depending on the environment. A wireless router, which broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal, is generally found in private houses or businesses. The signal will pass through walls; however, the distance will be reduced compared to cellular data.
The LTE systems in urban areas are generally built to exceed the Wi-Fi systems. It is also reduced, but the difference is that the LTE systems usually have a 1Gbps to 100Gbps backhaul. In contrast, Wi-Fi could be anything below 10MB/s because whoever is providing the Wi-Fi put it there as a convenience and not to serve paying users.
Also, Wi-Fi is heavily affected by queues and waiting times. LTE systems do a better job balancing loads and have much better infrastructure to support each sector.
Wi-Fi usually has only one hotspot serving many people. If a Wi-Fi hotspot is congested, your throughput will slow down. On the other hand, if your local region has poor broadband infrastructure but strong 4G/5G coverage nearby, your phone internet may be faster.
IMPORTANT: We’re talking about public WiFi here. Usually, home WiFi is much faster than mobile data, even 4G or 5G. But it all depends on what plan you have – these can vary greatly from just a few MBs to 1Gbs.
If your home Wi-Fi is particularly slow, here are a few things you can check:
- Try turning off your router and leaving it off for 30 seconds before turning it on again
- Have a look at how many devices are connected to the Wi-Fi
- Look for background programs that are using your bandwidth
- If you haven’t already, add a password to your Wi-Fi in case you have intrusive neighbors
- Ensure that your network drivers are up to date
- If you’re using a VPN, try disabling it
Is Mobile Hotspots Different To Mobile Data And Wi-Fi?
A Mobile Hotspot (or a phone that acts as a hotspot) transmits mobile data as a Wi-Fi signal using cellular data. Laptops, tablets, televisions, and other internet-connected devices may connect.
Travelers may find hotspot devices handy but bear in mind that all of the limits listed above for mobile data still apply.
A mobile hotspot transforms cellular data into a Wi-Fi signal that may be used locally. Because this divides bandwidth across numerous devices, many carriers either don’t allow hotspots or charge a premium for their use.
The more devices you have connected to your mobile hotspot at the same time, the slower your internet will be (assuming that they all use bandwidth at the same time).
What Are The Limitations Of Mobile Internet And Wi-Fi?
When weighing the pros and cons of Data vs. Wi-Fi, one of the most important factors to consider is cost. Your cellular carrier’s data plans provide you a defined amount of data (or “unlimited” and throttled mobile data), but you can usually acquire a Wi-Fi connection for the same price or less, but with more bandwidth available.
Furthermore, many eateries and retail stores now provide free Wi-Fi! For most things you need to accomplish online, Wi-Fi is cheaper, more dependable, faster and quicker.
The only significant advantage of mobile data is its portability, which allows it to be used in locations without access to the internet through a landline.
Why Is My Home Wi-Fi Speeds So Slow?
The primary culprits that slow down the internet, whether you’re on broadband, fiber, mobile data, or Wi-Fi, are data-hungry programs. On an iPhone, click “Settings,” follow> Cellular to see how much data each of your apps uses.
The apps that consume the most data are usually the ones you use the most. Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube are among the most popular social media platforms. If you use any of these applications regularly, adjust the settings to decrease the amount of data they consume.
Facebook is one of the more popular ones, so let’s cover it here:
- Open the Facebook app, then press the three-line button in the lower-right corner, then Settings.
- Then hit Videos and Photos under Account Settings.
- Select either On Wi-Fi Connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos from the Autoplay menu.
Remember to ensure that your phone is always connected to the correct network. You want to be on the LTE(4G) network and not 3G. If slow public Wi-Fi frustrates you, bite the bullet and purchase some LTE data for your mobile device.
Lastly, change your computer or mobile phone settings to stop any data-hungry applications from consuming too much bandwidth.