When people call us for help in improving their Wi-Fi in their home, sometimes there is a Wi-Fi solution and sometimes the best solution is hard wiring. In most cases, a combination of both hard wiring and Wi-Fi is the best choice. Here are six things we discuss and look at within the home to determine what will work best for the customer.
1. Mobility: The number one reason to choose Wi-Fi over a wired set up is mobility. If you are going to move your device around the house, then you need the flexibility of the Wi-Fi. Laptop computers, iPads and cell phones need a strong wireless set up. Devices that stay put should be hardwired. They include PCs, Televisions and sometimes the audio (in-wall and in-ceiling should be hardwired). When it comes to audio, you can combine wired & wireless by expanding a wired audio set up with products such as Sonos, that permit you to go wireless, therefore expanding your music coverage within the home.
2. Aesthetics: If you have a fully decorated room and now want to have it wired, cuts will need to be made into the drywall to route the cabling from one point to the next. Most residential walls have wood studs 16” apart, so to move horizontally around a room, studs are in the way and wiring has to go through the stud (thus the need to cut the drywall at the stud). If you don’t want your walls cut open, then the best time to hard wire a room is either during a remodeling or just before you decide to redecorate, i.e. so the drywall repair can be covered with spackle & paint.
3. Security: If a client works from home or runs a business from home we generally recommend hard wiring for the company computer. A lot of companies will not allow employees to Telework when using a Wi-Fi connection at home due to the inherent security risk.
4. Airtime: This is a term that is rarely heard but is the most important part of Wi-Fi performance. All devices share the radio transmission of a Wi-Fi network that they are connected to with the other connected devices. Airtime is the amount of time a device uses the radio for sending and receiving data. The more devices there are on a Wi-Fi network, the more contention there is for Airtime. If a device is an Airtime hog, (i.ee a smart TV streaming Netflix, gaming system playing a multiplayer game, etc.) then the performance of all other connected devices will suffer. There is a common misconception that Bandwidth from your internet provider is the problem. Nine out of ten times the problem is with Airtime contention, not Bandwidth.
5. Bandwidth: Naturally the more devices you have on your network, the more bandwidth is used. If you have a house full of kids gaming and using Wi-Fi for the phones, homework and music, you may find when you sit down to use your own device that the speed is very slow. The solution can be either wiring some devices or additional Wi-Fi access points to increase the bandwidth capabilities. You may be surprised at what bandwidth you actually need to operate your household network. Typically you can operate on a lot less than you think, when the infrastructure is designed correctly.
6. Structure of home: Some homes just don’t make it easy to use Wi-Fi. The construction of the walls, the # of levels and the layout of the home can make it nearly impossible for your single router to handle all the signals that are attempting to access it. Wiring upper level rooms and adding Access Points can help. (Access Point is the correct term for the radio transmitter/receiver for Wi-Fi)
A good network infrastructure adds immediate value to your home and adds value when you are ready to sell. Millennials are very tech savvy and will be looking at how well they can access their electronic devices. Most likely they will not care as much about the cable outlet as they will not use traditional cable services but they will be VERY interested in a house with a robust network infrastructure.