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I Just Want to Say One Word to You… (Or why it's time for your Network to Graduate)

Posted on Aug 29, 2013

To misquote one of my favorite movies…

“I just want to say one word to you. 

Just one word… Networks.”

“Exactly how do you mean?”The Network Graduate

Well, this isn’t 1969 or even 2009.  There’s a little thing called the iPad that has changed the world – at the very least, our technology-integrating, slice of it.  Every system we provide uses an iPad (or iPod or iPhone) to control it, whether it is a full on Savant Home Automation system, a wireless Sonos Music System or an Integra Surround Sound Receiver with built-in Pandora.

Know what all those little gems have in common?  No, not plastics.  The Network.

 “Benjamin, this whole idea sounds half baked.”

 “No, it’s fully baked.”

Gone are the days where we can use alternate means of old fashioned control to make even the most basic AV systems function.  Just about every component requires a solid, wired or wireless network connection.  From the Savant Select Remote to the Control4 Wifi Door Intercom to the Security DVR, the only system that is not fully dependent on the network is Central Vacuum – and it won’t be long now…

 “Mrs. Robinson, if you don’t mind my saying so, 

this conversation is getting a little strange.”

Have you ever tried building a 5,000 square foot house on a foundation designed for a 600 square foot cabin?  How ‘bout driving a 10 passenger SUV with a 1 cylinder engine up the Sepulveda Pass?  Well, if you are relying on network equipment you purchased more than 3 years ago or you are planning to put 30 or 40 networked devices in your home and use the combination modem/router/access point/potato slicer that the phone company gave you, you might as well be trying to fly a zeppelin filled with pistachio ice cream.

The $79 modem/router/wifi combo that many of you are entrusting your personal photos, business documents and saturday evening entertainment to was not designed for you.  Those devices were designed for the average U.S. home which has 5 networked devices in it.  I’d be willing to bet that you have at least double that amount.  Add a basic audio video system and it’s triple.  Add an automation system and you can decuple it. (That’s x10).

We recently finished a system for a client’s 4,000 square foot home.   They had 8 rooms of music, 3 rooms of TV and no automation.  That home had 37 networked devices in it.

Don’t even get me started on Wifi with it’s alphabet soup of flavors from a to b to g to n,  and it’s mysterious frequency schemes and speed nomenclatures from  2.4ghz to 54mbps and on and on.

Wifi is tough to get right.  Networks are tough to get right.  You need the right design, the right equipment, the right setup and of course the right installation team.

Here are a few parameters to consider when determining your network needs:

  • How many wired devices will you have?
  • How many wireless devices?
  • How much room for growth should you allow?
  • Do you need a Guest Wifi network?
  • What level of security do you need?  WPA?  Hidden SSID?
  • Do you need a virtually segmented network? (VLAN)
  • Do you need a bandwidth controlled network? (QOS)
  • Will you have VOIP phones?
  • Do you need a VPN to your office?
  • Do you store files at home or in the cloud?
  • Do you need remote access to your home?
  • What is your data backup strategy?
  • Where will your music be stored and managed?
  • Do you have streaming video devices (Tivo, DirecTV, Netflix, AppleTV, Vudu).
  • How many home computers?
  • How many wifi enabled iPads, iPods, iPhones, Android Devices?
  • How big of an area do you need to cover with Wifi?  Indoor?  Outdoor? Guest House?
  • What are the walls of your house made of? Any hidden steel? Concrete? Plaster?
  • Will you have networked storage devices (That was for another blog).

 

Some of the ways in which you would address these needs include:

  • Use a small business or enterprise class router that is VLAN aware
  • Use VLAN capable managed switches with QOS and POE.
  • Have a Wifi sweep and heat map created of your home to determine quantity, type and location of Access Points.
  • Use high-power, long-range Wifi Access Points.
  • Consider simultaneous dual band access points (2.4ghz and 5ghz).
  • Use 802.11n and 80211bg networks to support Phones and Computers.
  • Plan for future 802.11ac (already starting to appear)
  • Use VLAN Aware Wifi Access Points
  • Use a Managed Wifi Network for easier setup, service and more precise control.
  • Use a Romaing Wifi Network for seamless transition and perfect in-home roaming
  • Implement QOS (Quality of Service) Bandwidth management to prioritize voice and video traffic.
  • Use Standardized TCP/IP networking schemes and make sure they are documented.
  • Implement Guest Wifi so your nosy friends aren’t looking at your photos and docs.

“It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules

don’t make any sense to me. 

They’re being made up by all the wrong people. 

I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”

Pretty overwhelming, huh?

What is plain and simple… it’s time you Graduate to a solid, reliable network.  Graduate to ubiquitous, fast Wifi.  Graduate to a smart, forward thinking expert to help you answer all of these questions and to design and install the right network for your systems, your home and your budget…

 “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”

“Benjamin, I am not trying to seduce you.”

“I know that, but please this is difficult…”

“Would you like me to seduce you?”

Well… not exactly… but I do have a suggestion for whom to call for all of your needs (networking that is) and it’s not Mrs. Robinson.

Here’s to you Interior Technologies.

 


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