Hooked Up - Wired or Wireless?
Home networking looks to embrace both.
By Joe Paone
What customer wouldn't want a networked home? The ability to share broadband Internet connections, control HVAC, security and electricity, and send audio and video to different nodes around the house at the touch of a button or from a remote location—it all sounds pretty tantalizing to today's CE-savvy consumer. What homeowner wouldn't welcome the opportunity to not only gain complete control over various automated functions, but also increase the value of the property?
Home networking, at least for customers of relative means, has almost become a slam dunk proposition for the C-tailer. It's not a particularly hard sell, especially in the case of new constructions of half-million dollar homes. Retrofitting an existing home for home networking, however, is obviously more difficult, especially in terms of installing structured wiring. But even in long-populated areas of the country with older homes and neighborhoods, the home networking concept is garnering significant consumer enthusiasm.
One of the most basic issues at play in the realm of home networking is the type of infrastructure to be used. At the highest level, this boils down to wired or wireless, but there is much more granularity at hand. This is particularly true in the wired arena, where there are numerous choices and decisions, including hard-wiring, soft-wiring, CAT 5, CAT 5e, premium upgrade cabling, phoneline networks and powerline networks. And that's just what's available now—technologies like these often move more quickly than the sales and installation people that have to understand them.
WIRELESS: GOOD ENOUGH YET?
A canvass of numerous custom home theater installers and home network installers reveals a commonly held view of wireless today as not much more than a supplementary access technology to a hard-wired network backbone. For the foreseeable future, they say, wired will always be the superior choice. If it is at all possible to wire the house, installers are typically recommending that homeowners and builders do so.