Broadband and Wi-Fi Around the Home

"How can I set up my broadband so that I can use it in all areas of the house".

Often there is a need to use several computers at the same time or one computer, which is situated a long way from the master socket. For a good solution, you should consider four things: ADSL Filtering, Wired Networking, Wireless Networking (WiFi) and Networking-Over-Mains. (Powerline).

ADSL Filtering

Most people just add a filter at each location where a telephone device is plugged in. (Don't forget your satellite TV box, Fax and burglar alarm auto dial unit). The best solution is to wire your modem-router-hub directly to the master socket using a 'Faceplate Filter'. This is an high performance ADSL filter designed to replace the lower half of the BT Master socket (NTE5). This places the filter as close as possible to the incoming ADSL signal and provides hard-wired, filtered connections at the rear for all the other telephone extensions in your house. This is particularly important for BT infinity and other high speed services. Even if you only have one computer and it is near your master socket, you will still need to consider ADSL filtering. If the two signals are not separated then the phone wiring tends to degrade the ADSL signal. There should be only one path for the ADSL signal, from your master socket to your modem, no wiring T junctions or branches on the way.

Next to the master socket may not be where you want your ADSL service, which brings us to getting the Broadband around your home. There is little significant cost difference between the network technologies, except that the cost for wired Ethernet is principally labour, so if you are doing the work yourself this option may work out cheaper. If you have more than one computer, or if you have extra peripherals, such as a printer or network storage in a different room, then networking comes into its own. All your computer devices become network resources, which can be shared as you see fit.

Wired Ethernet, (CAT5/6)

Many people reject the idea of wiring their homes for a computer network out of hand, this is a mistake. Adding a few sockets on the skirting boards and running wires between them can be a very low-cost option, not just now but for the next twenty years. The wires can also be used to add extra telephone points if you need them. Ethernet is the rising format for the distribution of audio and video around the home, so a socket behind the TV and Hi-Fi is a good idea. If you are installing network wiring, especially during re-decoration or refurbishment, put in more wires than you need into every room. You won’t regret it.

Wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi)

If you want to be able to wander about your home and garden using your laptop whilst connected to the Internet then Wi-Fi will form part of your solution. You will need an access-point, or a router with this built-in and a Wi-Fi enabled laptop. Most devices claim a coverage of up to 300 meters in free air. You can expect reasonable coverage from the roof to the ground floor and through up to one brick wall. If you live in an old house with thick stone walls, I would look for an alternative solution for the connection between rooms. In my experience Wi-Fi can be stable for years and then become unreliable due to interference from other networks or electrical appliances. For this reason I would advise having a network cable available to plug your computer into the router in an emergency.

Networking-Over-Mains (Powerline)

Networking-over-mains uses the existing mains-power wiring in your home to carry Ethernet signals up to 100m. The technology for carrying signals through the mains has been around, notably in the form of intercoms, for many years. The technology has now been adapted to provide Ethernet connectivity around the home at ever-increasing data rates and is now able to stream video.

The Solution

For most homes a combination two or more of the four techniques covered in this article can provide the service you need throughout your home. The exact combination will depend on many factors including: The construction and layout of your home, the existing phone wiring, the number of points required and your budget.

Click on the image to enlarge

Home Broadband diagram showing cabling to, ADSL Filter, Modem/router, Desktop PC, Wireless Laptop, Printer, Network Storage, Wireless Home Plug and Media Server.