My home network connection has been really sluggish as of late, and I was actually going to call my ISP about it when I realized the real culprit: WPA.
I don't really need encryption on my wireless network since basically everything I do is encrypted on the application level. I do want to keep a level of privacy, however -- our mail server, for example, is an effective open relay when accessed through this network. So, I've used WEP until now, but the 128 bit shared keys are really, really cumbersome to enter manually in the hexadesimal format. So there was much rejoicing when I was able to upgrade to WPA last week because Apple added support for it in Airport v3.2 software. My Linksys WRT54G base station already supported it, so I was good to go. Say hello to human-readable passwords.
Here's a ping report to the Linksys from my Mac 10 feet away:
209 packets transmitted, 204 packets received, 2% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 1.391/14.665/57.615 ms
Needless to say, it's back to WEP for me as soon as I can figure how Apple mangles a human-readable password into a 128 bit shared key. I could then enter the said key to my Linksys and continue to use the password on my Macs. With a bit better performance.
Update: The Linksys just needed restarting to regain normal performance. I can't help thinking that this is the downside of basing embedded devices on desktop operating systems (Linux).