Optimal connectivity in the home is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ for homebuyers in North America. It’s a necessity! Without it, commonplace activities like 4K streaming, work-from-home, and online gaming can grind to a halt from slow service and dropped connections.
On the other hand, a modern, reliable, and future-proof network can increase a home’s market value and overall appeal – increasing its potential sale price and reducing its time on the market.
How much? A recent study by Verizon found that 90% of homebuyers actively prioritize reliable internet access when selecting their next home.
For new residential construction teams – including the networking engineers and procurement specialists who support them – optimizing internet connectivity throughout the entire home is critical.
Here’s a look at five key factors to consider during the planning stage.
1. Select the Right Broadband Technology
The choice of broadband technology significantly influences the home’s connectivity quality. The two primary contenders in this arena are cable and fiber.
While cable has been the go-to option for a long time and is still more widely available across North America, it’s not necessarily the best choice – especially in neighborhoods where fiber infrastructure is in place to make FTTH possible. Compared to cable, fiber optic connections offer superior speed, reliability, and capacity over cable, making them an ideal solution for future-proofing homes.
If FTTH is available at a new build, it would add significant value to bring fiber into the home and terminate it in a fiber optic transition case or cartridge. This way, future homeowners can use fiber optic if they choose to.
2. Consider Bandwidth Requirements
Bandwidth requirements fluctuate from home to home, and even from household to household. Smaller homes and condos, for example, may not require extensive structured wiring systems to support multiple occupants with heavy internet usage habits.
However, in most instances, simply bringing an internet access point into the home where it can connect to a router doesn’t put that home in the best position to handle increasing bandwidth demands.
Instead, those planning residential builds should take a more comprehensive approach to network design. This includes considering how the physical layout of the house could impact the WiFi signal, creating dead zones. As well, the number of potential occupants the home might house can help inform network planning. With these considerations in mind, the design team can make a plan that might include the installation of a structured media panel, the location of network jacks and wall plates, and potentially deploying a mesh network to supplement coverage over a larger square footage.
3. Implement Structured Wiring Systems
The most thoughtful way for residential construction teams to fully future-proof a home’s network is to implement a structured wiring system, especially if paired with fiber.
A structured wiring system extends network cabling throughout the home. This allows devices or rooms that are far from the router or modem – such as a smart TV or home office – to be hardwired directly to the network, rather than relying on WiFi.
An essential component of a well-planned structured wiring system is an easy-access media panel, such as the SOHO Pro PR10, which can be wall-mounted or left freestanding. A media panel serves as a centralized point where all home network cables and equipment converge, making them easier to manage, maintain, and upgrade over time.
4. Choose the Right Cabling – for Today and Tomorrow
The choice of cabling will also significantly affect network performance. For structured wiring systems in homes with FTTH, Cat5e Ethernet has long been the go-to option. In terms of performance, however, it can’t compete with Cat6 and Cat6a.
Cat5e offers up to 1,000Mbps. Cat6, meanwhile, offers up to 10Gpbs under ideal circumstances, while Cat6a offers the same but twice the bandwidth at 500MHz.
This makes Cat6a cabling the most suitable choice for residential construction teams intent on building future-proofed home networks.
When selecting Ethernet cabling, it’s also critical to source accessories that are fully operational with that standard. For example, if you’re going with Cat6 cabling, you’ll want to use Cat6 and Cat6A compatible components, from patch panels and distribution modules to jacks and wall plates.
5. Ensuring Reliable WiFi Coverage
Even with the most sophisticated cabling and structured wiring, WiFi is still a crucial component of any home network and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Housing the wireless router and other network equipment in a WiFi-transparent media panel that’s located in a central location within the home is a great place to start. This helps ensure effective WiFi signals can reach the wireless devices throughout the house.
In larger homes, however, a centrally located router might not be enough to ensure quality wireless coverage. That’s why it’s important to plan your structured wiring system thoroughly, with Ethernet access points in rooms and areas of the home where the WiFi signal may be weak – such as upstairs bedrooms and a home office space.
Optimizing for Demand
Optimizing connectivity requires some careful planning and the right mix of networking equipment and accessories.
Some teams may decide these extra steps and costs aren’t worth it. But with modern homebuyers prioritizing fast and reliable internet access more than ever, it’s critical that new residential construction teams take these simple steps to optimize connectivity throughout the home.
Selecting the right broadband technology, assessing bandwidth requirements, implementing a structured wiring system, choosing the right cabling, and ensuring reliable WiFi coverage are five essential considerations that can help builders and their teams create reliable home networks that are optimized for today, tomorrow, and beyond.