Category Archives: Residential

When Does It Make Sense to Use Ethernet vs WiFi?

WiFi lets you use your mobile device or laptop on your network from any room and is a workaround when you don’t want to run a cable in a room. WiFi is best used as a means of convenience if you don’t want to cut into walls to run a cable, or dig up the yard. Also, if a device needs to move around, then WiFi is the right choice.

On the other hand, if you have a desktop PC, server, streaming media device (Apple TV, Roku), game console or set-top box that stays by your TV, Ethernet is still the best option. Assuming it’s easy enough to plug the devices in with an Ethernet cable, you’ll get a more consistently solid connection and better overall experience.

Sometimes you need a combination of cable and wireless. If your Internet connection is dropping or slow when using WiFi, then adding a wired device to extend the WiFi connection may be the best choice. Many people opt for an extender, but many times this may not be the best choice of equipment to solve the problem. There are a variety of WiFi products that are considered when putting together a network; access points, bridges, extenders, adapters. Adding a single device won’t necessarily fix the problem if it is not the right one and configured improperly.

The best way to ensure a quality network is to identify what you want for data, audio and video throughout your home and outdoors and then have a network specialist design and install your infrastructure.

Understanding cat 5e and cat 6 cable

Just a few years ago, the choice of Ethernet cable for residential usage was Category 5 or 5e. In most cases, Cat 5e is still perfectly fine. However, there can be a need for the more expensive Cat 6 cable. We will try to explain the difference between these two cables and then which should be selected and why.

First, the name category 5, 5e or 6 cables is wrong. The correct cable name is Unshielded Twisted Pair, UTP. UTP is the broad heading for the cable type and it refers to its construction. The cable is unshielded and the copper conductors are twisted together in pairs. The amount of pairs of copper wires can vary from 1 to thousands of pairs. There are 4 pairs of wires in each cable for Ethernet network use.

Ethernet cables are rated for performance into sequentially numbered categories (“cat”) based on different specifications specifically for use in Ethernet networking; sometimes the category is updated with further clarification or testing standards. As the category number gets higher, so does the speed and megahertz (Mhz) capibility of the cable.

Here is a very important point. As mentioned in the above paragraph the “category” rating is for Ethernet usage only. UTP cables are used for many things in the home and business. It is a very versatile cable type and can be used to carry audio signals, video signals, doorbells, lighting controls, landline telephones, etc. It is very easy to get confused about the functions of the cable can. In this article we are focusing on the use for Ethernet networking.

There are two main physical differences between Cat-5 and Cat-6 cables, the number of twists per cm in the wire, and the thickness of the copper wires. While cable twisting length is not standardized, typically Cat 5e has 1.5-2 twists per cm and Cat 6 has 2 or more twists per cm. The additional twists help cut down interference and increase speed. A nylon spline inserted into some manufacturers Cat 6 cable helps eliminate crosstalk in the wire and makes for a heftier cable.

We will go deeper into the uses of this cable type in future articles.

For a more indepth look at cables, go to

JD Powers “2016 TV Satisfaction Report”

This annual report measures satisfaction with TVs among customers who purchased one in the past 12 months. The 1,000-point satisfaction score takes the following factors into account: performance/reliability, features, price, ease of operation, built-in online capabilities, customer service and warranty. Eligible brands included Samsung, LG, Hisense, Emerson, Sharp, Sony and Vizio.
Samsung once again ranked highest in the 50-inch or larger TV segment with a score of 859. Sony, meanwhile, displaced Samsung from its 2015 position as the highest ranking brand in the smaller than 50-inch TV segment, with a score of 843.

Among the findings:

Consumers with a TV 50 inches or larger were more satisfied than those with a smaller TV (845 points vs. 812).
Price was top of mind for all consumers. Sixty-seven percent of those with a TV smaller than 50 inches cited price as the primary reason for the selection, while 55 percent of those who purchased a larger one said the same.

Both sets of consumers said the in-store display was a primary source of information during the shopping process, with 22 percent saying they relied primarily on the in-store displays. Last year, about half of consumers said the same.

Smart TVs: 80 percent of TVs 50 inches or larger, and 59 percent of the smaller TVs, were smart.

Curved: 27 percent of those who purchased a TV 50 inches or larger chose one with a curved screen, while 17 percent did the same for a smaller TV.

4K Ultra HD: 52 percent for the larger TVs; 25 percent for smaller models.

Most common TV problems cited by consumers:
*Glare and/or reflection (25 percent)
*TV doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi (18 percent)
*Remote control doesn’t work properly (13 percent)
*Sound is distorted, low or missing (13 percent)

Source: Lisa Johnson, TWICE online magazine.

Summertime is a Great Time for…

…Going to the pool, vacations, visiting family and friends, cook-outs, and festivals. It is also a good time to prepare your home’s network infrastructure for the coming of fall.

When September rolls around, if you have children you will be busy getting them back to school and to after school sports, clubs, etc. If you don’t have children, work will most likely pick up (it always seems to slow a bit during the summer due to colleagues and clients vacationing) so you may be staying later or bringing work home.

In addition, you may be considering some additional electronics or new electronics in your home come the holidays. Waiting until you already have that new 4K TV to ensure your wiring is set up for it will delay that immediate gratification when you bring it home.

So, do an analysis of your home’s network capabilities now. Are there rooms that are not getting strong internet? If you got a new TV, would you put it where the last one is located or elsewhere in the room. And, what about the old one…if it still works where will it go? Upstairs in the guest room perhaps. Is that room wired for a TV?

Plan and schedule network and electronic changes before the rush starts in the fall.

Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Q: Why do I have dead spots or slow bandwidth in my home, when I pay for high bandwidth from my carrier?

A: The high speed bandwidth your carrier gives you is what comes into your home. From that point, it can disintegrate depending on your network infrastructure. For devices hard wired (directly connected to your router) to your carrier, you should still be able to get that bandwidth. However, for wireless devices, you are depending on your routers ability to function as an Access Point. Where your router is located, the construction of your home and the # of devices you use can impact your speed and availability. To correct “no and slow” internet, the only solutions are either replacement of the router, hard-wiring, adding additional Access Points or a combination of these solutions.

Q: Why did I get good Internet speed in the past and now I don’t. I haven’t changed carriers?

A: In the past, we only used our Internet for our computers. Now, it connects to TVs, Audio, gaming and mobile devices. So, while your network may have worked well in the past, you have now added more traffic to it, therefore it may no longer be able to handle your new needs.

Q: Can I upgrade my speakers for my audio and my surround sound and still use my existing receiver which is working fine.

A: Maybe. While older receivers may still work, they may not be compatible to newer TVs and speakers.

Q: I bought a new TV seven years ago. Why has it stopped working?

A: The lifespan of electronics is getting shorter due to the complexity of its operating system and the increased usage by consumers. You should plan a maximum of 7 years for replacing a TV (based on a 2014 study), though most are replaced earlier due to incompatibility issues when replacing other electronics.

Q: My TV isn’t working and it is out of warranty. Do I repair it or get a new one?

A: This is by far the hardest question and we can’t really answer it. Consider the age of the TV and the cost to repair (which will include a troubleshooting cost & repair cost), and time to get it repaired. Compare that to the cost of a “most likely” better TV. Also, if you do decide to get it fixed, be sure to ask about a warranty on the repair. If it breaks again within 6 months, will that be free of charge. Note: We do not repair electronics. Contact the manufacturer to be directed to a repair company.