The Case for Wireline Home Networks
– In the Digital Homes of the Future
By Charles Hall
We’re a firm believer that every home that’s over about 1,500 square feet in size or that has solid walls needs both a wireline and a Wi-Fi network. A technology such as NVoy that helps devices find the best path for content and data is a boon to the consumer whose networks are increasingly bogged down by multiple streams of videos and will soon carry multiple streams of UHD entertainment and educational videos plus data from the Internet-of-Things and personal health care devices.
It’s not sufficient these days just to have faster broadband — I pay for 50 Mbps and actually get about 30 Mbps on average. Most home’s internal network cannot match the higher broadband speeds that are now available. When you have fast broadband and slow networking in the home, it’s like pouring something through a funnel.
My home may be an anomaly, but one of the best things that ever happened was when the first installer I hired showed up with a roll of Ethernet cable and a box of Ethernet connectors. A single Wi-Fi router, even one with the latest 11ac chips, will not provide the bandwidth needed in every room and on the patio. In the beginning, I did all the connections in my house but after a few years that become too complicated.
The installer I hired immediately started installing Ethernet cable to connect every main room in the house to the router that connects to the broadband service’s modem. The rule of thumb is to put an Ethernet outlet next to every coaxial outlet where a TV can be plugged-in.
Wi-Fi is of course mandatory for wireless devices like smartphones and tablets, but Wi-Fi would be overwhelmed by my five TVs — three of which need a permanent network connection and by an Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, TiVo, Blu-ray player and an LG Upgrader net-top box. That’s not counting Logitech’s Google TV, which I once mistakenly purchased but it is not currently connected.
There are also three Onkyo surround sound systems, one for the new UHD TV, one in the master bedroom and one for the whole home sound system that’s connected to a pair of speakers in three rooms and the patio. The newest one, a UHD/4K compatible unit, needs a permanent Internet connection to access Internet radio stations and do software upgrades.
The growth of my networked devices over the years has prompted me to buy, over time, switches for the router/modem, the bedroom and the living room. Had I known then what I know now I would have put a 16 port Ethernet switch by the router/modem instead of an 8-port model and 8 port switches instead of 4-port switches in the living room and master bedroom. Like money, you can never have too many Ethernet ports and too much bandwidth.
Ethernet wireline was installed because MoCA and HomePlug were not then available at retail and G.hn was only a glint in an engineer’s brain. I have not tried the souped-up Wi-Fi that uses chips from Celeno and Quantenna because they are not available at retail.
A coax network connects all my TV sets and TiVo, so technically speaking, my house has three networks: Ethernet, coax and Wi-Fi. It’s 2014, after all, and the world of entertainment has gone Internet — soon to be followed by education, health care, the Internet-of-Things plus personal monitoring and home surveillance.
It’s true that because of my work at The Online Reporter, my home is a bit of an oddity but only by being a bit ahead of where most homes will be in a few years. I’ll bet that by the end of the decade most middle-class homes and above will be more like mine than not. I know that when I show off my network and devices to guests, most say that is exactly what they want. And most installers that come to connect a new device, such as the recently purchased UHD set, look relieved to find it’s easily connected to a wireline Ethernet network. In fact, many installers say that most of the problems they have when installing comes from having only Wi-Fi available, even if is the new 11ac version of Wi-Fi, which I also have. In fact, because of the layout and construction of my home, three Wi-Fi routers were needed, one of which has the 11ac version of Wi-Fi.
A wireline network also means never having to say you’re sorry on a tech support phone call. The first thing most tech support people ask when you call about a problem is whether you’re using Wi-Fi.
You can’t beat wireline for home networking and as the home’s backbone for Wi-Fi.
Wireline Networking Is as Good as Advertised
By Charles Hall
More readers emailed than usual about last week’s article “The Case for Wireline Home Networks.” From repeated personal experiences, I can say that equipment installers and tech support people love to hear the words, “There’s a wired connection there for that that’s connected to the broadband modem.” I have zero bandwidth problems, except occasionally to the house — even though I’m paying for 50 Mbps — but never in the house. I know because of ASSIA’s Cloudcheck iPad app, which measures both broadband and home networking speeds. Once you have a UHD TV, the first thing you do when you sit down to watch some entertaining TV is to look for UHD shows. The wireline network means always having the bandwidth to stream multiple UHD videos.
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