Wireless No Match for Hard-Wired Networks in the Home

January 2004

Many wireless solutions on the market meet specific needs such as wireless telephones, wireless speakers, single-channel video transmitters and wireless computer networks. However, wireless devices just don't measure up when compared to a hard-wired communications network in the home. Wire-based systems can actually cost less, while providing more bandwidth and far greater flexibility.

Wired Network

Despite the many advances in wireless technologies, users are still forced to make choices. Many wireless devices interfere with each other and can't coexist within a home. Virtually all the wireless systems on the market, despite their cost, only support transmission speeds at the low end of the spectrum. By comparison, systems that use Category 5e data wiring and RG-6 video wiring easily support more than 10 times the speeds of wireless systems.

There may be specific applications for which wireless makes sense. You may want to reach a set of speakers in your backyard or on the deck. Or, when a speedy connection is not a priority, you may want to unwire your laptop to surf the net in bed or in your favorite lounge chair. These wireless connections can be built on top of the wired networks.

In fact, most wireless systems require some wiring to be installed in order to work. For example, cordless phones require hard-wired telephone jacks for the base units. Even wireless networks need wiring to connect to broadband modems and the public network outside the house.

A wired system nearly always provides higher bandwidth capability, higher security, more reliability and more flexibility than a wireless system, and it is simply more robust. Higher bandwidth allows faster transmission speeds for data applications and more channels for video applications.

Electronic devices such as LAN cards, phones and video receivers need to be upgraded or replaced periodically, such as when they break or become obsolete because of newer technology. The wireless versions of these devices are more expensive than hard-wired versions, making a wired system relatively less expensive over the life of the home.

Another consideration is that wireless systems used to transmit sensitive personal information can be easily accessed by anyone nearby with a similar type receiver. Additionally, wireless systems are far more vulnerable to interference from other devices and systems, which results in poor performance.

Many people have come to depend on wireless cell phones for instant communications wherever and whenever we need it (at least in most places, most of the time). But your home's not going anywhere, so why compromise on the superior quality of a hard-wired system?

Getting Started

If you are thinking about installing a network in your home, a hard-wired network should be your first choice. A new educational CD-ROM, " Structured Wiring for Today's Homes," is available free on request from the Copper Development Association. TOP