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Structured wiring and marble countertops

Feb 17, 20033 mins

Building a new house? Make sure you include a built-in network.

Building a new house? Make sure you include a built-in network

With all the talk about Wi-Fi, one of the long-held network truths seems to have gotten lost: Wired connections always outperform wireless ones. 

In the home, it’s no different. If you can send your data and entertainment traffic over a high-quality wired backbone, you probably should. And if you’re building a new house, you should install structured wiring.

Structured wiring is a specialized residential wiring system typically consisting of three parts: high-quality wiring, usually Category 5 copper cabling (the traditional cabling for 10/100 Ethernet networks), coaxial or sometimes fiber; a distribution panel or central wiring hub; and connector plates for each room. Installation costs anywhere from $500 to $2,500, and in new construction, the cost is rolled into the total cost of the home.

 Older homes have wiring designed for a bygone era. While you can poke holes and snake cables in an existing home, it’s much more expensive.

With nearly 20% of U.S. households subscribing to high-speed access, combined with the rapid growth in new digital media entertainment and multi-PC households, the need for a high-speed residential network infrastructure is more evident than ever. While a large portion of new homes are still built without structured wiring, In-Stat/MDR believes that will change over time.

So if the need for structured wiring is obvious, are home builders getting the message? Actually, many are. According to a survey In-Stat/MDR conducted in January of 580 home builders, 74% said they offer it. Of those who do, nearly a one-third (30%) offer structured wiring as a standard feature; 50% offer it as an option; and 21% said their offerings depend on type of home.

Intel gets the message, too. It recently announced a partnership with FutureSmart, one the leading providers of structured wiring systems. Under the agreement, Intel will design a home server that will be incorporated into the structured wiring system. FutureSmart sees this partnership as a key component of its Builder Program, which provides tools and add-on components that home builders can use to sell structured wiring.

Intel also co-founded Wiring America’s Homes (WAH) in late 1999. WAH is an organization that educates home builders about the benefits of structured wiring. Intel doesn’t plan to sell the home server as a commercial product; its involvement is part of a larger drive to accelerate the broadband and digital media markets, to ultimately sell more processors.

Another sign of the times? Home Depot now offers a selection of structured wiring, including full systems with centralized home network distribution centers, wiring bundles and connector plates.