Category Archives: Residential

Range Extender Problems

It’s rare to get the speed you’re paying for from your internet service provider EVERYWHERE within your home. Most people are plagued by at least one area where Wi-Fi doesn’t work well or doesn’t work at all, i.e. a dead zone. Many people have wasted exorbitant time and money upgrading their router, adding a booster, repeater or range extender, and finding they still have these problems.
What’s a range extender?

A range “extender” is a networking device that’s meant to increase wireless range. They rely on one radio to both receive and transmit information. Since data only has one path in or out, bandwidth is cut in half. Connecting more and more devices just puts additional stress on that single radio, further affecting performance. Only a single range extender can be added to a router in any given direction. If your router is located in a far corner of the home, it’s not possible to add multiple extenders in a row from room to room.

In addition, most extenders use a separate network SSID from your router, meaning you’re left operating two or more different WiFi networks. You’re forced to physically toggle between the networks on your devices when moving from room to room.

There are some new technologies that are showing some promise for extending Wi-Fi coverage. These devices will create a “mesh network” of multiple devices to increase the range and use a single network name. They are coming on the market so stay tuned.

Anticipated Trends in Electronics for 2017

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), took the stage at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York to offer sales predictions the future of electronics.

1. The New Voice of Computing: Voice control will take over as the next computer interface.

2. Connections & Computations: The widening availability of broadband and Wi-Fi will lead to increased uniformity and adoption of smart-home technology, including increased autonomous living.

3. Transportation Transformation: There will be more vehicle technology such as driver assistance and self-driving cars.

4. AI’s Infusion into Our Lives & Business: Just as computers have influenced how we do our jobs today, artificial intelligence will play a similar role in the way we work, communicate and access information.

5. Digitizing the Consumer Experience: Both virtual reality and augmented reality will be the new forms of entertainment.

Hulu to increase live streaming service

Hulu plans to launch a live TV streaming service in 2017. It will include live sports, live news and live entertainment events with access to content from 35 different TV networks. The Wall Street Journal reported pricing to be about $40/month, compared with it’s current $7.99/month. However given what they are offering, the price will still be significantly less than cable prices.

Hulu recently announced an expanded partnership with Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox. Those are two huge names, because both of them control a number of important TV networks. With Disney, for example, Hulu also gets access to content from ABC and from ESPN.
The current TV lineup for the live streaming Hulu includes Fox, ABC, ESPN, FX, National Geographic, the Disney Channel, CNN, TNT and TBS. And that’s not all – Hulu has said that it will continue to add new content partners before a final launch in 2017.

This is most likely just the beginning of the battle between streaming and cable and will most likely impact the way cable companies provide & price their services.

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.

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