The list of amenities offered to lure potential home buyers continues to become more elaborate. Developers and builders traditionally rely on creative tactics to differentiate their communities and homes to attract potential buyers. Today more and more developers are introducing broadband to their communities, with many requiring their residents be connected to the internet and/or a branded community intranet. This initiative occurs most often in master-planned communities where the developer maintains a central role in planning everything from roads to broadband. In many Greenfield developments, broadband connectivity is a community cornerstone. Developers are partnering with builders to ensure that the concept of advanced connectivity extends throughout the home, whether through structured wiring, wireless or internet appliances.
Today’s modern homes require structured wiring for multiple computers, security systems, whole-house audio/video systems, and telephone systems. The need for structured wiring has been stimulated largely by the growing presence of the internet, the expansion of personal computers and smart devices in the home and the growing sophistication of entertainment. The copper wiring installed for POTS (plain old telephone system) service in the 1950s is no longer sufficient to meet the high bandwidth requirements of these modern applications.
The concept is to provide a single-point connection for all video, satellite TV, cable TV (CATV), computers, telephone lines, security, cameras, and sound systems and is sometimes referred as a “connected home”. A properly installed wiring system can support home theater with surround sound, whole-house audio, lighting automation, security requirements, appliance control, telephone, fax and other home office requirements and remote-access zoned environmental controls. Additional lifestyle options include driveway sensors, motion detection flood lights, automated drapes, pet doors and feeders, medical diagnostic monitoring, a wireless LAN, web cameras and voice telephony over an Internet protocol.
While some of these capabilities may seem like luxury items, structured cabling is also fast becoming a very real necessity for some; particularly professionals who work from their homes and for growing home-based businesses community.
WHAT IS STRUCTURED WIRING?
The structured approach when installed during new construction eliminates the need to retrofit a coaxial cable through a finished wall, or cut open the wallboard to relocate a Category 5e cable. Instead, true structured wiring often involves installing a bundle of wires, sometimes with two telecommunications (CAT 5e or CAT 6) cables, two coaxial cables (quad shield RG-6) and even a multi-mode optical fiber cable. The argument for adding fiber is that the potential bandwidth is much greater than the copper cables and is now relatively inexpensive. The installed fiber cable is typically not connected at either end, but is readily available to support future high-bandwidth broadband video and interactive services. All of these cables will be “home runs” to a central wiring closet in the home, meaning each connection will have an uninterrupted cable running straight to the wiring cabinet.
While new “no wires” LAN technologies are on the market, the best practice is still running wires through the walls – certainly for new construction and for retrofitting homes and offices. Building a network with “structured cabling” provides the most flexibility, “future proofing” and the highest reliability and performance.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
It is not unusual for a homeowner to choose a number of options resulting in a $10,000 wiring package. For a $500,000 home this adds only two percent to the purchase price and can be easily recouped at resale time. Similarly, a $2,500 system adds only two percent to the price of a $125,000 house. Another factor driving this market – the homeowner can roll the cost of structured wiring into the home mortgage.
On the average, the structured pre-wiring may cost a homebuyer from $2,000 to $6,000 depending on the number of wired outlets and the module types installed in the cabinet. Modules can host a number of functions, such as security panel, connection to a telephone key system, amplified cable TV splits, data hubs, and Internet router and connections to audio systems, satellite receivers, DVD players and video surveillance cameras.
While in contrast, re-wiring an existing or finished residence is another situation all together. Installing the wiring necessary for a home theater or office in an existing house takes creativity, skill and specialized tools. Installers need to determine the best routing for a variety of cable needs to minimize opening walls, as well as the subsequent re-plastering and repainting. The bill to re-wire an existing single room with several information outlets may run as high as $2,000 due primarily to the labor required.
We can assist residential developers with interconnecting each home with what is called Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) technology. Building a fiber network throughout a residential development will further enhance a homeowner’s ability utilize the structured wiring in the homes for present and future broadband technologies. A community-wide fiber network will support the application of a host of present and future broadband services, and could generate income for the developer and/or homeowners associations. Services applications could include:
- Very High-Speed Internet Access
- Housing Community Intranet
- Community Tele/Video conferences services
- Local/long distance Telephone/VOIP Services
- Remote Utilities Monitoring
- Implementation of On-line Housing Service Requests
- Remote Security Monitoring of Community Cameras and/or individual homes
The combined implementation of structured wiring in the homes and the high-bandwidth fiber infrastructure with the community will enhance the lives of today’s technical savvy individuals and families. The advanced cable infrastructure both in and between the homes would also facilitate the interest of a host of broadband service providers; offering a variety of options to the homeowners.