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I just used speedtest.net (using Firefox) to compare my wired connection speed with my wireless connection speed. With my current contract (with Videotron), I'm supposed to get

  • Download speed: 8Mbps
  • Upload speed: 1Mbps

Here are the results of the speedtest.net test:

Wired

  • Ping: 14ms
  • Download speed: 8.41Mbps
  • Upload speed: 1.04Mbps

Wireless

  • Ping: 16ms
  • Download speed: 0.18Mbps
  • Upload speed: 0.98Mbps

The difference in download speeds seems staggering to me since I did the test 1 meter aways from my router.

Any clue as to why my wireless download speed is so low compared to my wired download speed?

using Ubuntu 11.04 on an Acer Aspire 5536-5519

Oh and it might be worth mentioning that my girlfriend has no trouble at all with her wireless connection. No slowness at all. (She uses Firefox on Windows 7 on a Dell) Here's the results for the same test on her system:

  • Ping: 22ms
  • Download speed; 8.44Mbps
  • Upload speed: 1.02Mbps
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Based on your girlfriend's results, clearly the answer is format, and install Windows. :) –  KCotreau Jun 12 '11 at 17:33
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Looks like just your wireless download speed is being affected. Perhaps it's your firewall or the type of wireless security you're using (and your girlfriend isn't). –  martineau Jun 12 '11 at 17:41
    
@martineau : I don't believe I have a firewall –  Shawn Jun 12 '11 at 17:42
    
If you have a home grade wireless router, you have a firewall, but the firewall is the same for wired or wireless (the firewall is on the router portion, not the access point or wired switch portion of your routing device). You should test with various wireless settings and devices (different channels, different security, second router, different wireless NIC on the computer, etc). There could be so many reasons you are getting those results for wireless, you need to narrow it down a bit. –  MaQleod Jun 12 '11 at 18:08
    
What channel are you on? and how many other wireless networks are around you. Often networks on the same/similar channel will cause collisions –  madmaze Jun 12 '11 at 19:56

3 Answers 3

There are many different factors that affect wireless speed, too many than can be summed up in a paragraph. PC Pro has an article on tracking down what affects your wireless bandwidth.

To find what is causing your slowdown, you have to start eliminating variables. Could it be your router? Try swapping your and your girlfriend's routers. It could be your hardware, do you get better speed at your girlfriend's place? "Security" software can also significantly lower your bandwidth; try disabling it (temporarily) for testing.

Congestion? Start unplugging (not just switching off) electrical devices like wireless phones, microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, televisions, et al. and retest after each one. Find what frequency or channel your router is operating at, and switch it. Multi-path interference? Move your router or laptop around, take down mirrors (yes, I'm serious).

It's very unlikely a single thing is causing your slowness, you have to test every possible problem, then fix it. Don't stop after the first change that seems to work.

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My girlfriend and I live together and share the same router. Should I still be doing all that testing or can I safely assume something on my computer is the problem? –  Shawn Jun 12 '11 at 20:04

Using my Aspire One I noticed that, in spite of an optimum signal level, the surfing and page opening was slower than on my Aspire 1680. Looking through the web I found many other users saying they were experiencing this problem and I found suggestion for a solution that for me is working...

It seems like a problem with the power management of the wireless adapter. To solve it you have to go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager. There you have to expand the Network Adapters and right click the wireless adapter (Atheros...Wireless Network Adapter), then choose Properties and go to the Advanced tab. Now you have to select in the left column the Power Save Mode and set it on the right to the Off Value. Finally press OK and close the device manager

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As another machine fairs far better under the same circumstances I would suspect either driver issues or a hardware fault.

It would be worth looking up the laptop's wireless chipset and seeing if other report problems with it under Linux, though I think a hardware issue is more likely (as the wireless driver situation is usually "it works or it doesn't" rather than "it works reliably but very slowly").

As the card is working but not well, the most likely issue is the antenna. As your upstream speed is not badly affected (being around the expected speed for your line) but the downstream is your wireless adaptor has one dysfunctional antenna and one that is fine. The borken one could simply be a lose connection, though you may not be able to do anything about that. If the antenna it internal to the wireless adaptor there is nothing you can do but replace the whole adaptor. If the antenna connects to the card you might be able to replace it (for fix the connection if it is just disconnected). For instance this is the mini PCI-E card that AA1 uses:

enter image description here

You can see the connections for the antennas which are apparently replacable (several places list spares as available, like so).

Of course if there is a hardware issue, turning off the internal adaptor and replacing it with a USB one would be easier than hacking around inside the machine!

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