Alternatives To Wi-Fi Networking In Homes

Posted: Mar 30 2009, 12:00pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 11 2010, 1:39pm CDT , in Hardware & Peripherals


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In some locations, Wi-Fi isn’t a viable option for connecting devices inside the home. This can be for many reasons from interference caused by too many other wireless networks in the area or from other issues. Poor Wi-Fi connectivity has sent many consumers looking for a better way to get internet connectivity to the myriad of connected devices inside today's homes.

In my previous home, I couldn’t get a decent connection over Wi-Fi to my PS3 or Wii, even when the devices were literally inside the same room as the router. The reason for the problems with connectivity was that there were no less than 15 other wireless networks vying for the same spectrum within a stone's throw of my home.

I couldn’t play online games because the connection would drop constantly and short of running CAT 5 cable across the room, I was pretty much out of luck. If you are in the same situation, there are some alternatives to Wi-Fi that will get you connected; if you rent a couple of these options will work for you as well.

Homeowners can run Cat 5 cable in an existing construction home, but it is far from easy. Depending on the building codes in your area, running Cat 5 cable in your home can be downright impossible. In my area building code calls for braces that run between the studs in the walls about halfway from the floor to the ceiling. That means that in your average home there is a 2 x 4 block that you have to get through to be able to pull wiring to your devices.

Sometimes you can find a conduit that the homebuilder used to pull phone or cable to outlets in the home, but more often than not the electrician will have simply drilled holes through the 2 x 4's to pull his wiring before the sheetrock or paneling was installed. You can pull wiring but paying someone to do it will be expensive and if you do it yourself, it will be time consuming.

I have heard of some people using plenum rated Cat 5 cable and using the AC or heat ducting system to pull wire that way, but other issues will crop up in that sort of install. Those with carpeting can simply pull wire under the carpet as well. However, for most people pulling wire won’t be the way they want to go for connectivity.

Another method that may work for your needs is powerline networking. Many of the same companies that make wireless networking gear also make power line networking that provides Internet connectivity over the existing power lines inside your walls. With power line networking you plug a special adapter into an outlet to get data streams sent from a router connected to the power lines in the home.

How well this works for you will depend the brand of equipment used and other factors. One of the main issues is that you have to plug directly into an outlet to get connectivity with no surge protectors or other things between the outlet and the power line equipment. Power line equipment can also be expensive.

An alternative to power line and wireless networking can be coaxial networking gear. Several companies including D-Link offer a line of equipment that allows you to use the coaxial cabling inside your home to get Internet connectivity. D-Link says that the gear runs on the 800MHz to 1500MHz range and will not interfere with TV transmissions using the same wire. Coaxial networking seems to be a better option to me since we already know coaxial cable can handle high-bandwidth, whereas electrical wiring is more of an unknown. D-Link's kit consist of a pair of adapters that connect to cable outlets in the home with one end connecting to your router and the other end connecting to any RJ-45 equipped device. The kit is expected to cost about $200 and debut later this year.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
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