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Home Networks (Part Two)

Although many houses will stand for centuries, a lot of cabling systems won't last a single decade. That's because communications are more demanding nowadays, incorporating voice, entertainment, information and home office applications. You can't get by any more with just a phone socket in the corridor and individual add-on extensions.

The necessary infrastructure has to be planned – for new buildings just as much as for those being renovated. In principle, the same well-proven and tested technologies can be used as in the office world. With intelligent planning, the additional costs are moderate, and the installation increases the long-term value of the building. This article points out the factors that need to be taken into account.


Household data communications are spreading rapidly, and the demands of modern family members seem to be escalating: a number of phones in simultaneous use, fax, Internet connections, video intercom systems, a shared central printer, and TV in more than one room. And this development is just the beginning, if we are to believe current projections. An indicator here is the growing popularity of the many new home electronics gadgets, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, and games consoles.

The right infrastructure is surely needed in order to accommodate these new applications. Yet the clear solution, well established in office buildings, is still making very slow progress in the private sphere: network cabling. A lot of people seem to believe that, apart from the mains cables, just a phone and an antenna will do as the basic fittings for a house. Many electrical installers still regard network cables as taboo, even though the Internet and multimedia are now indispensable features of everyday life in a modern household.

The result, especially in larger households, can be a dreadful mess of cabling spaghetti. This is because networking is needed: the "soft-shoe network" (a pair of trainers and a diskette) is no good for shifting digital pictures and audio/video data. So there is a need for sensible alternatives.

A one-off cabling design that solves a given particular problem is never going to be future-proof. What is needed instead is cabling so general in form that it can meet changing requirements at any time. The first item to be tackled should be the Internet connection.


there are several alternative narrowband and broadband Internet connections. Some of them are available in Egypt and some did not come yet. Their providers make use of the existing infrastructure.

The most widely used medium is ADSL by telephone line. Because of restricted bandwidth, Powerline (data transmission via the mains cable) is leading a shadowy existence, as is Internet via satellite. Basically, costs and available bandwidth should be compared when making a choice. There are clear differences here between the various providers.


3.1. Fundamental Considerations:

Once the provider and type of connection have been decided on, the next step is to consider the indoor distribution of Internet connections. In this respect, prospective house-owners should ask themselves the following questions (or better, the planner should ask them): Do you want to connect a computer in an office and/or in a separate room right away? What will be your future requirements? Do you have children? Are you planning to have (more) children? Will every child need a PC at some time? Do you want to be able to access the Internet from more than one room? Will you work from home? The larger the family and the more computers already in use or likely to be in use later, the more important it is to plan with foresight. It is much easier and, in the long term, also cheaper to install a carefully planned computer network before or during the move into a new home than to modify or replace an inadequate network later.

3.2. Overview Of Cabling Alternatives:

Conventional Cabling
Multimedia Cabling
Mains Cable
Wireless LAN (WIFI)

3.3. Well Prepared For The Future With The Right Cabling:

The real basis for future-proof cabling is the passive infrastructure, the system of conduits, ducts and outlets laid in a house. If this is right, then terminations can be relaid at any time in order to keep up with the state of the art, as a function of the use made of particular rooms and current requirements. In order to achieve this, however, the communications installation in a new house, or one undergoing renovation, should be planned more sensibly than is currently the norm.
A central communications distributor shown that houses all the active (NT, HUB, ADSL modem, routers etc.) and passive components gives access via a star configuration to all the multimedia outlets in the house.

"Multimedia" implies that a great variety of applications can be combined in one single socket: TV, Fast Internet via CATV, satellite receiver, radio, ISDN, analogue telephone, and PC network. This gives the greatest scope for meeting all present and future wishes.

The additional cost of multimedia cabling is moderate, and it's a profitable investment that helps the building to retain its value, because the requirements of its occupants are going to be satisfied well into the future. Personal requirements and financial resources change over time, so one's personal living space should be able to keep pace.

3.4. Easy Handling, Quick Installation:

The communication distributor has standardized mounting dimensions and can be accommodated in hallways or auxiliary rooms. Passively, the box contains ISDN and POTS distributors, an RJ45 patch panel, a coaxial splitter and a multi-plug.
It can be equipped without tools with NT, data, CATV and DSL modems, router, switch and hub.

The star-like installation provides additional advantages such as the quick mounting on top of empty tubes, easy troubleshooting and level calculation.
The multimedia outlet is a cornerstone in building cabling. It contains five interfaces and corresponds to the standardized mounting dimensions. Thus, for the first time it is possible to make all communications services available via a single outlet. The modular inserts can be adapted to individual needs or applications. A tangential cable entry simplifies the installation. With the use of novel terminal clamps every coaxial cable can be contacted without tools. The installer saves valuable time.

3.5. Is Wireless LAN An Alternative?

Everybody's talking about wireless, whipped on by the hardware suppliers' advertisements. The word "wireless" alone conjures up visions of unlimited mobility, inside or even outside the house, without loss of contact with the network. In practice, the results are rather disappointing. The ground-plan, building method and design of a house has an influence on the workable range of a wireless connection. In some cases it is necessary to invest in several access points (while designing the infrastructure), connected to each other via Ethernet, in order to secure wireless access at all points in the home.

There is also reason to worry about data security and data protection. Although a lot has been done in attempts to solve this problem, the fundamental risk remains: as soon as you send data from an access point "into the ether", an unauthorized person can intercept them. If a hacker gains access to a Wireless LAN and intrudes from there into other networks, there may even be legal consequences for the operator of the Wireless LAN.

Finally, the extra radiofrequency pollution caused by a Wireless LAN should be considered, because it contributes to the "electromagnetic smog" generated by mobile phones, cordless phones and other radio-based applications. Even if the discussion about harmful effects is a controversial one, electromagnetic radiation does have a measurable effect. In principle, it heats up irradiated tissue in the same way as does a microwave oven. This disadvantage should be weighed against its advantage of simple installation, which to some extent makes cable superfluous.

3.6. Not Only For The Home:

The multimedia outlet can be used for new buildings as well as for expansion of existing installations. In addition to the private home there are other suitable installation possibilities, such as hospitals, residential establishments, hotels and restaurants, in brief, all businesses and establishments with a comprehensive multimedia need. The multimedia outlets are appropriate for applications in the area of CATV (cable television), satellite and terrestrial receiver facilities. The multimedia outlet can be expanded with various communications applications thanks to the modular interface. The multimedia outlet fits optimally in the new home wiring concept and thus combines practically all communication connections in a single outlet. It also can be used for existing installations without any problems and allows upgrading of existing installations.

4. Conclusion:

For new buildings or complete renovations, multimedia cabling is the best answer. The prices of cable products have fallen steeply, and 100 Mbit/s switched networks are now more affordable than ever.

Moreover, multimedia cabling offers all the required applications, not just an Ethernet connection, as is usually the case with Wireless LAN and Powerline. Only a solution based on data cable offers sufficient data rates in the medium term, and an option to migrate to Gigabit Ethernet and higher. Wireless LAN can complement a cabling solution to some extent.

5. Recommendation:

An optimal price/performance ratio, fast and easy installation, expandable at any time and absolutely future-proof, no matter where you use it, one thing's for sure: it's your best investment in the multimedia future.

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Posted by ROOT Technologies

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