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Albany Creek, Queensland, Australia
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Structured Cabling for your home

If you are building a new house or undertaking major renovations on an existing house, particularly in the NBN-era, then it is well worth considering your options for structured cabling. It is easy to believe the marketing hype of the various mesh WiFi products available but they will never be as good as a cabled connection simply because WiFi is shared spectrum that can be interfered with by other neighbouring transmitters and if there are multiple hops back to the main unit then performance is limited. Depending on the size and construction of the house, a single ceiling mounted access point located centrally will probably be more than adequate. If you have a multi-storey house then one access point per floor again will probably be more than adequate.

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.

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 of the necessary cable at the time of construction. In terms of cost it is a very small percentage of 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.

It is suggested that a Category 6A system be considered as it offers about the best price/performance and will be capable of 10Gb/sec Ethernet over the full 90 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. In addition to the much higher cost of the cable it has higher installation requirements so the installation cost is higher.

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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Comments (2)

I hadn’t put much thought into the cabling for the home I’m having built, but I’m glad I read this before making any decisions in that regard. I like your price/performance breakdown for the Category 6A vs the Cat7A cables, and I’ll be sure to discuss the options of those with my contractor. I’ll also talk to my contractor to make sure the building meets ACMA regulations, and avoid those older configurations that you mentioned.

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