Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Wireless Home…..or not

I wrote a few days ago how I had run some CAT-V and coaxial cable while I was rewiring the house 3 years ago. After talking to a few folks who are in the business, they told me the industry standard today is to run 2 CAT-V and 2 coaxial cables to each room. For those not familiar with it, CAT-V is for phone or computer networking, and coaxial cable is for cable TV and some other things.

The reason you would run so many is because you may have different needs than just a phone and a TV. For instance, in one room you could have a phone line, computer networking, cable TV and an FM antenna that could use the 4 different cables.

When I was rewiring the house I didn’t actually install all of the cables in the different rooms. I ran the 4 cables from under the house, up through two floors, and in to the attic. The plan was that I would have splitters, routers, and junction boxes in the attic and I could split off of those cables and run 4 individual cables to the 4 bedrooms.

The idea was that when I got around to finishing each room I would decide where the best and most logical spot in the room was for the cables to exit. I found an interface that would hold all 4 and then allow you to use a faceplate for a GFCI type outlet to make it look nice. It would all be neat and tidy.

As time went on though, I started to think that with all 4 cables in one spot it could be a problem if I wanted the TV on one wall and the phone on another. What would I do, staple phone line around the room on the baseboards. That would look like a hack job. I then thought I could split the 4 and have a CAT-V and coaxial together in one location, and another pair together in another location. If everything is marked properly it would be easy enough to change around what cable is used for what by changing the connections on the splitters in the attic. The attic has a finished floor and full stairwell leading up to it, so it wouldn’t be like I was crawling around on my knees with a flashlight to do this.

The more I thought about that the less I liked it. After spending months re-wiring the house, pulling miles of new wire, and cutting all the holes for outlets I didn’t want to have to cut a bunch more holes. I started to think that with wireless technology becoming more prominent and accessible, what is the point of having all those cables. Wireless internet and phones are pretty common place, why not wireless cable TV. It has to be just a matter of time before wireless cable TV is in the home. I realize “wireless cable TV” is an oxymoron, but you get the point. If my computer can access the internet from a secure wireless router in my home, then why can’t my TV access a cable TV signal from a wireless TV router? Does such a thing exist, and if it doesn’t then why not.

However, I’m finding out that maybe the future isn't quite ready for prime-time. A few months ago I got a DSL wireless router and I’m less than thrilled with it. It is a 2Wire router and a LinkSys adapter, for those interested. The signal strength starts out good (never excellent) and then drops for no apparent reason, and occasionally I have to “repair” the connection (software). Yesterday I lost the signal altogether and had to remove and reinstall the wireless adapter from the computer (hardware). I did this after twice resetting the router. If this is what I have to look forward to, after only two months of wireless DSL, I’m not ready to ditch all the cables just yet. If my choice is between unsightly cables that work, or wireless technology that sort of works, I’ll take the cables.


Bigorange said...

We had a LinkSys router that we could never get to work right. We even threw down $100 to get one of those 'Geek Squad' guys to come over and confirm our diagnosis that yes, it was f&cked. Got an apple Airport and the problems all went away. Made us completely rethink our wiring plan (tho' our house is only 1100 square feet so we get good signal in ever room).

Anonymous said...

I have a wireless router, but have also installed cat5 in several rooms during my rewire. The wireless connection is much slower than a hardwire connection (10x faster). As downloads get larger and more and more video etc. You'll be glad to also have a hardwire connection as an option.

SmilingJudy said...

Agreed. LinkSys will never work great and will "wear out" on you. I went through 3 LinkSys and other various brands in 3 years. I've had my AirPort for about a year and a half and it has been completely trouble free. I installed a generic router for my Mom last xmas, and it's already flaking out.

Another theory - I work with a guy who has problems getting a signal throughout his house because the router is in an upstairs room. Someone else suggested that he should put it in the basement because the signal is more apt to travel up than down. I don't know if I buy that, but it sounds logical.

Greg said...

Thanks for the Feedback.....Grrrr! I just bought this stupid thing. I'm supposed to get a $49 rebate back on the router. Maybe I'll go shopping once I git it.