Take it from an network engineer
who's worked with Ethernet since the late 1980's and WiFi since 2001. WiFi is wonderful. It works great.
Would I trust it on a cruising sailboat for transmission
of radar imagery from the radome to my chartplotter
during a storm? No. friggin'. way.
WiFi uses what the industry calls unlicensed spectrum. Commercial
AM and FM radio
broadcasts worldwide require the broadcasters to license
the spectrum (frequency range) they broadcast on - otherwise another broadcaster in the vicinity may use the same frequency and interfere with their broadcast. The same principal applies to marine VHF
and MF/HF SSB
, aeronautical HF/VHF/UHF, satellite
, television, etc.
With unlicensed spectrum, anyone can manufacture and operate devices in that range. Granted, WiFi spectrum, like VHF
, is limited to line-of-sight (and in WiFi's case, very low transmit power). Consumer microwave ovens operate in the same range (2.5GHz) and can very well interfere. Even with the higher frequency WiFi bands used by IEEE 802.11a/g/n/ac (5GHz), you can't use the full spectrum because (here in the US, at least), doppler weather
radar overlaps some of the channels used.
Don't get me wrong - I love WiFi. I use it at home - but I also ran Category 6 UTP cabling to every room when I built my house last year, and run all the devices I can over it rather than WiFi. I architect and build secure WiFi networks for my clients at work.
On my boat
, I use the built-in WiFi on my Raymarine
- but only with the RayRemote app on my android phones and tablets. I use hardwired NMEA2000, 0183, SeaTalk
and 100Mb ethernet for interconnecting all our navigation equipment
. It works without interference
I know that the WiFi capability of Raymarine's new radar array is neat, as is the TackTik line of equipment
they acquired a few years ago. But if at all possible, I hardwire everything. It's much more robust in the end.