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How to Design and Build a Wired Home Network

Wiring your house to create a home network during construction to save money down the track

Nowadays even basic laptops come with Wi-Fi capabilities. You can connect to the Internet wirelessly provided you have a wireless router in your house. Moreover mobile phones, tablet devices too are Wi-Fi enabled.

Wi-Fi is limited in speed and not too secure

Although Wi-Fi technology is simple to setup (you just need a wireless router connected to your Internet modem) and convenient to use it does have some limitations and may present some security issues:

  • Speed. Theorically a commonly 802.11g Wi-Fi enabled device would exchange data at the speed of 54Mbps (mega bits per second). However there are many factors that can affect the speed (e.g. distance between the mobile device and the router, signal strength, router brand, etc.), and as a result you would likely experience a bandwidth half of the norm
  • The newly available 802.11n devices are designed to operate at 300Mpbs under the best possible conditions. But again when taking into account real life considerations the highest speed would be more in the vicinity of 130 Mbps and below
  • Security. Because your data and information are exchanged over the air between the device and the router it would be easy for some hacker to ‘listen’ to your data. Although modern routers have seen enhancements in terms of stronger encryption and data protection between devices they are still vulnerable. Furthermore most of the time general user doesn’t think about using or activating all the protection mechanism of their router and mobile devices

Wired home network is more secure and offers much higher speed

Wired home network
A wired network requires a "switch" to connect devices to each other. Today you can find a quality 8 port Gigabit switch for less than $100!

In this configuration your computers and other Ethernet capable equipments are connected to the home network via RJ45 sockets installed in the wall. Ethernet cables are installed in the wall by a licensed electrician who is also familiar with data.

To keep your house building costs low bear in mind that it’s easier for the electrician, and therefore more economical for you, to install your data points at the same time as the power points. Once the Gybrock sheets have been put in place there is more labor and time involved to add power or data points and it drives the costs up.

If your equipments are Gigabit capable and you  have a Gigabit switch as concentrator data and information will be exchanged at the speed of 1,000Mbps (i.e. 18 times faster than 802.11g Wi-Fi technology). Consequently moving big files from one computer to another will take much less time.

To build a wired network for your new house you would need to:

1. Decide where you want the switch to be located so that you can plan to have room for it and a power point nearby.

This is where all the cables will arrive to be connected to the switch. You might want to design a store room and place your switch on a shelf there. If your new house design doesn’t have a store room a popular option I’ve seen is to concentrate your home network in a walk-in robe

8 port gigabit switch
We've placed 8 port gigabit switch in the store room. A power point was installed next to it. All the Ethernet cables arrive here and are connected to the switch

2. Think about where you want to have the network sockets.

You might want to have at least one data socket per room and two in the study (for example to connect two computers or one computer and a network printer)

3. If you plan to have game consoles in the family or rumpus it would be cheaper to get the data points installed at the same time as electrical cables. These consoles have an Ethernet port to connect to the Internet. Having a data socket nearby will save your money as you won’t need to buy the pricey Wi-Fi modules

4. If you plan to have Internet, it would be preferrable to decide during the design phase where you want it installed so to save on cabling

5. New TVs coming on the market are called “Smart TV” and are hooked to the Internet to bring more digital programs to your house. Planning a data point next to the TVs will save you the hassle of  having to call the cable installer back. It would also cost more once the plaster sheets are up.

Taking advantage of both worlds

A wired home network will provide you the high speed and security. Once you have a wired network it’s easy to complement it with a Wi-Fi router to enjoy the flexibility of a wireless network too.

D-link DIR-655 wireless router
The D-Link DIR 655 wireless router comes with 4 gigabit Ethernet ports. These ports actually allow you to increase the total number of equipments you can connect to your home network

Mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, etc. don’t have an Ethernet port. If you want to access the Internet on these devices in the house you will need a Wi-Fi router.

The simplest solution is to use a wireless router. The above picture shows a D-link wireless router. All your equipments whether they are connected to the cabled network or wirelessly will be able to access the Internet. Though for security purposes you will prefer to use sensitive websites such your Internet banking from computers connected to the wired network.

Is your house wired?

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