One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to household wireless networks is, ironically, wiring. Mention the need to install ethernet data cabling in order to get decent WiFi around the home and the suggestion is usually met with a mixture of horror and confusion. The reality is, however, that it’s the only truly reliable way to get a strong, fast internet signal to every corner.
And internet providers haven’t helped. For many homeowners, ISPs’ inflated promises of guaranteed WiFi everywhere are, in reality, hollow. However, the marketing sets the tone (and price expectations) that are then hard to prise from the collective psyche.
In spite of this tendency to see WiFi as the one and only solution, most modern new-build housing now comes with network cabling pre-installed. Developers seem to have cottoned on to something. There’s definitely a reason for that.
Here are some of the most common reasons people are reluctant to install home data cabling – and why they don’t really stack up.
Top 7 excuses for avoiding data cabling your home – and why they don’t really stack up
- It’s too expensive
If you’re thinking of hard-wiring a network in a large house you could be looking at several thousand pounds to get it done by a professional. Not cheap on the face of it. But perception of value is, of course, subjective.
There’s a few ways to look at the cost in a wider context.
Expensive compared to what?
- Compare it to what you spend on connected tech – phones, tablets, TVs, games consoles, cameras, heating controllers, smart speakers, etc. Add up the cost of all the smart devices in the average household and you’re likely looking at thousands – possibly even tens of thousands – of pounds.
- In this case, relatively speaking, spending the money on your network isn’t such a crazy outlay.
Home data cabling is a one-off cost with long-term benefits
- Unlike boosters, or even a more expensive mesh WiFi system, a proper home data network installation is a longer term investment.
- Rather like your electrical circuitry or plumbing, ethernet cabling forms a long-lasting distribution system. What you put on the end of it is likely to change over time.
- In the same way that your household electronics change, so will your smart home devices. But you don’t change your electrical wiring every time you get a new TV. Likewise, with a wired home network you don’t have to change the data cabling if you want to, say, replace an old wireless access point with the latest model.
- The one-off cost of home networking infrastructure enables you to easily swap in newer, faster technology as it becomes available. Its lifespan could easily run into decades.
A wired home network adds value to your property
- Developers of new homes already recognise this and often include data cabling as standard. It’s not an afterthought, but simply a part of the everyday utility infrastructure expected in a modern home.
- There’s a couple of studies that have highlighted the impact of poor internet connectivity on property value and desirability:
Get the full internet speed you pay for throughout the home
- Why pay for ultra fast broadband, when you can only get the full speed in one or two rooms? It’s a position so many householders are in, and yet the internet providers don’t have a reliable answer. You’ll normally be fobbed off with cheap boosters, or asked to pay even more for mesh WiFi disks which still aren’t guaranteed to work.
- Mesh systems rely entirely on wireless connections. As a result, if your home is struggling with WiFi, then a mesh system will face the same issues as a router, boosters or repeaters. The ISPs grasping at another cheap, unicorn fix in an effort to keep customers off their back?
- A wired network using ethernet data cabling helps ensure you get the full internet speed you’re paying for, wherever you need it in your home.
What value do you place on household harmony?
- The cost of poor connectivity is more than a monetary one:
- Anecdotally we see this day in, day out. A key driver for wanting to get the home network sorted is to stop the WiFi wars.
- Whether it’s gaming or getting a critical assignment uploaded by the deadline, the kids need to be online. As a result, a slow or unreliable internet connection around the home can lead to a whole world of unwanted familial stress.
- I don’t want to see any cables
Mention running of cable and the response is often a sharp intake of breath followed by, “but can’t we just…” and then the expectation of a magic unicorn solution.
We’ve become conditioned to think, it’s WiFi so why would I need cables? To the point that it’s like telling a child they can’t have the latest toy. The brow furrows and the bottom lip protrudes. It’s simply not the answer we want to hear. Then the shutters come down and the denial sets in. I don’t wanna, you can’t make me.
Unfortunately for cable-phobes, ethernet data cabling is by far the best way to get a fast, reliable internet connection and WiFi signal around a home. Fact. If you want to be connected in every corner of your home it’s the only way.
Once we’re over that hurdle and have accepted that it’s the logical way forward, it’s then just a question of aesthetics.
Yes, it’s perfectly possible to make a complete pig’s ear of running cable. If it’s slung up like Christmas tinsel after a few too many mulled wines it will look pretty ugly.
There are many ways to hide data cable in the home
- Internally under floors and carpets, in walls and loft spaces, behind furniture and other fixtures and fittings.
- If options are limited inside, ethernet wiring can easily be run outside the property. The chances are you’ll already have other cabling for phones, satellite and broadband. It’s therefore usually fairly easy to do it without creating an eyesore.
- Even where cable has to be surface mounted there are still ways to ensure it doesn’t stand out visually. Simply painting it the same colour as the wall is just one example.
Here are some real world examples:
Discreet surface cabling
External cable run along drain pipes is barely visible
Using the architecture of the home to hide data cabling
This time running between wooden cladding boards
- Data cabling is for businesses – it’s overkill for a home
If you only have a couple of devices and all you’re doing is browsing the web then yes, this is possibly the case. However, the modern home is doing so much more than that with its data. (And it may even be doubling as a business premises if you work or run a company from home.)
Home data consumption is growing – fast
According to Ofcom figures, the amount of data used by households via their broadband connection increased tenfold in the last decade. And the coronavirus pandemic has further accelerated this with a boom in home working.
Ultra-fast 200Mbps fibre broadband is becoming the norm for bandwidth hungry families. And with gigabit speeds on the horizon – already a reality for some – there’s no signs of a slow down in this growth.
Failing to make best use of fast home broadband is money wasted
Fast broadband is great, but if you’re not properly distributing your internet connection around your house then it’s frankly a waste of money.
Rather like motorways, the wider they get with more lanes being added, the more traffic tends to increase.
And to extend the analogy, there’s no point building a motorway when the surrounding infrastructure is just dirt tracks. Traffic would just grind to a halt.
Ethernet cabling is the only truly reliable way to prevent data traffic jams – slow internet, buffering and WiFi dead spots – in your home.
- Why do I need ethernet cable when I can just use my phone cabling/electrical wiring
Phone cable – nope
It’s different technology and won’t work. It would be a bit like trying to plug your TV aerial into an electrical socket.
Electrical wiring – sort of
You can use powerline adaptors that use your electrical cabling to transmit an internet connection.
There are however significant drawbacks. Not least of which is the fact that they need to be connected on the same ring main. Modern electrical installations tend to run on separate ring mains. As a result you may find this still works, but at lower speeds.
These ethernet over power devices also tend to run slower over time. This means needing to unplug them and plug back in again to reset the connection.
If you’re fed up with turning things off and on again, a dedicated wired network using ethernet data cable is the best way to prevent it.
- My current internet signal coverage isn’t that bad, I can live with it
See point 3 above.
If you’re not getting your full broadband speed throughout your home, you’re wasting money. You may as well choose a slower, cheaper broadband package.
Check what speeds you’re actually getting
You can check what % of your broadband speed your WiFi is delivering (and therefore how much money you could be wasting). Just run a simple speed test on any internet browsing device (phone, tablet, laptop) and compare it to your internet provider’s advertised speed.
If you get, say, 4Mbps on the speed test and your advertised speed is 40Mbps then you’re only getting 10% of what you’re actually paying for. Would you buy a trolley full of food at the supermarket and immediately throw 90% of it away? Or open that nice bottle of wine, pour yourself a small glass, then tip the rest down the sink? Probably not.
It’s worth running the test in every room as WiFi signal can vary hugely, depending on a wide range of environmental factors.
- I’m going to try a mesh system – it’s less cost and no wires
Buyer beware – they don’t work for everyone
Firstly, there’s no guarantee a mesh system will work in your property. Customer reviews of mesh WiFi are a mixed bag – it either works or it doesn’t.
Again, this will depend on a variety of environmental factors. That’s because they are reliant on wireless connectivity between access points which can only be guaranteed with clear line of sight. Something you likely won’t find in a domestic setting. As a result they are very susceptible to signal interference.
If you go down this route, make sure you can return the devices if they don’t work in your environment. Run speed tests to accurately measure performance.
You’ll still need some cabling
Secondly, they don’t dispense with wires completely. The mesh access points still need power so they’ll have to be connected via cable to an electrical socket. The main unit will also need to be cabled in to your router.
- I’ve already spent money on [boosters/repeaters/extenders/new router] & don’t want to spend any more
If you’ve bought off-the-shelf consumer WiFi boosting devices to try to get an internet signal around the home and they haven’t worked, it may be time to cut your losses. No point flogging a dead horse.
There’s no magic solution to bring poor WiFi devices back to life
Yes, it’s frustrating. Particularly if you’ve done your homework and read the reviews before buying. The trouble is, in real world situations what could work perfectly well in one home may be hopelessly unusable in another. It’s more than likely nothing you’ve done wrong. There isn’t, therefore, a magic answer to fix it.
Put it this way, if your home suffers poor WiFi signal penetration because you have electric underfloor heating, or reinforced concrete floors, you’re not really going to want to rip these up just so your fifty quid WiFi boosters will have a chance of working.
Money spent on a solution that works isn’t wasted
You can’t do anything about the money that’s been spent, but you can make sure you don’t waste any more.
A properly installed home network connected via ethernet data cabling will guarantee you get an internet connection wherever you need it.
Unlike boosters or repeaters you might buy off the internet (or the free ones given to you by your broadband provider), there’s no guesswork involved. You know you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
Of course, as with all things, you pay your money, you make your choice…
Looking to install data cabling at your business or home?
We can help with professional home WiFi network and ethernet data cable installations.
Contact us today for a free quote.