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Structured cabling for the home

1 Jan 2013 3:51 PM -

Are you limiting the implementation of technology in your new building?

ICS Technologies regularly works with developers, builders and architects on new multi-dwelling projects and private residences. While there is a trend towards the inclusion of various levels of technology in recent years it is still very much an exception rather than a rule.

As structured cabling is still considered somewhat of a luxury, it is usually the last thing to be added to a build and the first thing to go in an attempt to cut costs.

The danger is that when the property is completed it will be too late for the new owner to incorporate any of their desired technology into the premises.

Already our reliance on residential technology is high, and this will continue to escalate rapidly. Multi-room audio and video is now a given for many people. Networking, automation, remote security access, music and video streaming and content shifting are all high priorities for many people, and the greater the value of the property, the higher the priority.

It is easy to believe the advertising that wireless is a very viable substitute for a wired network but as a shared service it only approaches the advertised throughput with a minimum of traffic on your channel and the limited channels available can get crowded if all your neighbours are also competing for bandwidth.

We see wireless as a complementary system and a convenience for the rapidly increasing numbers of iPhone/iPads, Android devices, etc.

The inclusion of a structured cable network into any development is both a simple and relatively inexpensive process. This means designing for the future technological needs in the building, and then the installation the necessary cable at the time of construction. In terms of cost it is almost negligible compared to the overall building cost, yet it will allow for the future implementation of technology, which can be done at any time.

If money is really tight then at least the cables can be installed and left in the wall for later termination as this will be far cheaper than attempting to install cabling in a completed house.

Cat6A cable offers the best price/performance at the present time and will be capable of 10Gb/sec Ethernet over the full 100 metre channel. Cat7A cable is also available at a much, much higher price and although capable of 40Gb/sec over the sorts of distances found in a typical house this is really meant for interconnects in data centres. No network cards of this speed are available in consumer equipment.

With the availability of the NBN in many areas it would be a shame to have more bandwidth available externally than internally because you only have 802.11n or even 802.11ac wireless in your house.

The design of a structured wiring network is a specialist field and involves very different installation techniques to electrical cabling and if you want 10G-capable cabling then separations from electrical cable and first class terminations to all patch panels and wall sockets are a must.

The words ‘its OK, the house has been pre-wired by my builder’ sends many a shiver down our spine. In addition to wiring that more than likely does not meet ACMA regulations it is also likely to have been built around one of the preconfigured Clipsal, Krone or Madison units which in our experience seldom have enough data or video outlets so we usually custom build them to suit.

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