TTI News and Updates

It all Starts with Wire

Integrated Homes — Wireless, Wired, or Both?

Michael Tangora, President, Tangora Technologies, Inc.

Homes today have wireless phones, wireless light switches, wireless printers, wireless computers, wireless security cameras, and even wireless doggie doors. Wireless is in and wires are passé? Does this mean that homes with integrated phone, computer, and video systems will go totally wireless? No. The reason is that information and communications technology in the home always starts with a wire. It may not be sexy, but it is necessary. Understanding where wireless applications apply and where wired applications are still necessary is a must. This will make a significant difference in how well we enjoy and make the most use of our single largest investment — our home.

We shop, bank, pay bills, run small businesses, stay connected with the office, learn, watch, play, and communicate from our home. Phone, cable, satellite TV, and high speed Internet access enable these activities. These services enter the home via a wire or cable, and each is distributed separately throughout the structure mainly by wire.

What most home and business owners do not realize is that these “separate” systems are all part of the same 21st century utility — information and communication — the fourth utility after heat, power, and water. The “fourth utility” includes among other things telecommunications, internet connectivity, AV, video, security, and home automation.

The basics — a primer on the "fourth utility"

Go into a recently constructed office building, and in each employee workspace you will find a peculiar wall plate that looks like a cross between a phone jack, the back side of a computer, and a cable TV hookup. This funny looking faceplate is called a structured wiring jack or port, and it has the capacity to provide telephone, data, and video distribution from a main structured wiring panel or enclosure. These ports feature plug-in receptacles for phones, computers, fax machines, printers, network copiers, AV, and the likes. These wall ports connect you to the information and communication utility provider. The "Information Super Highway"

Leading home builders today offer standard packages for Structured Wiring Systems. With this system, homeowners have the flexibility of connect a phone, computer, TV, security camera, printer — any number of products — wherever there is a port. Every port is wired directly to a central structured wiring panel. Phone lines, cable and satellite TV, and high speed internet wires from the outside are routed into the control panel and then are distributed throughout the home. It’s basically the same idea as electrical service being wired into a circuit breaker and then out to wall outlets The difference is that outlets are in a daisy chain configuration, while each port has a direct connection or homerun to the structured wiring panel. The structured wiring panel is the heart of an integrated telecommunications, data, and video, security system, and home automation systems.

Using the integrated information and communication system or structured wiring system, computers throughout the home can share files, cruise the internet, and access printers and fax machines. Cable or satellite TV receivers, DVD players, Roku, AppleTV, FireTV, and security cameras can be accessed from any television in the home. Want a separate phone line for the home office or fax line? That’s not a problem. Each port can carry up to four separate phone lines. Want to move a TV, or computer location? Just plug the product into a different port and away you go.  

With a structured wiring system the home or building is an unified information and communication utility — as fundamental within a 21st century home as heat, water, and power. Information and communication technology represent the most advanced systems in the dwelling and these systems should be installed and maintained as such — certainly not as an after thought.

Mike Tangora is a certified, award winning home technology integrator in Delmar, New York.