If you have structured network cables running to every room at home, you are in luck. This is the best way to hook everything up to the fast fibre service you are signing up for.
The main thing here is to ensure that your home network is not so slow as to be the bottleneck when it comes to surfing the Net. Why sign up for an 100Mbps service when everything is hooked up to an old 54Mbps Wireless B Wi-Fi network, for example?
Here are three common ways to hook everything up at home:
If you don’t mind plastic trunking, I’d recommend you run Cat5E/Cat6 Ethernet cables to the rooms where you need it (that’s what I used to do at my parents’ place in the late 1990s before Wi-Fi was common). This is because the Gigabit Ethernet cables can support up to 1,000Gbps – fast enough for the fibre plans being rolled out now.
It’s best to get a router with multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports – common on high-end models now – rather than the slower Fast Ethernet ports (100Mbps). This means if you do choose 100Mbps or 150Mbps fibre services, you won’t have your router end up as a bottleneck.
Alternatively, you can use the newer Wi-Fi routers, which promise speeds of 300Mbps and 450Mbps, depending on the hardware. These are seldom reached, of course, but the best routers (D-Link DIR-855 and Linksys’ new E4200, for example) can offer Wi-Fi speeds that are close to what you get on Ethernet – and good enough for hook you up to a 100Mbps fibre service.
The catch, and this is a big one, is that Wi-Fi is prone to interference. On the common 2.4GHz band, you have your neighbours sharing that limited amount of airwaves in the sky. Each has to wait his turn, like at a traffic junction, to use the airwaves, thus things could slow down when everyone is online.
What about the newer, less congested 5GHz band? The problem is penetration, or lack thereof. Because it uses a higher frequency, 5GHz Wi-Fi gets very, very weak if you have to go past more than two thick walls (my small 1,250-square feet apartment is a case for two separate Wi-Fi networks because of such blind spots).
As long as your home is small enough and doesn’t have many walls separating one end to another, high-speed Wireless N routers could be your ticket to hook up to speedy fibre. But if you have problems with signal strength and interference, it’s best to rely on Ethernet cables.
Finally, there’s the option of using the electric cables in your home to double up as a conduit for your Internet data. This means plugging in a powerline networking adapter into the wall near your termination point and another at another part of your home. The data is kept within your home and cannot stray beyond the circuit breaker, so your data does not venture into your neighbour’s premises.
Always plug the adapter to the wall socket, and not into a multi-plug, so as to avoid interference. The problem with powerline networking is that your mileage can vary quite a bit. If the power cables in your home are old, you could get inconsistent links, for example.
There are a number of powerline networking manufacturers, with some claiming speeds of 200Mbps to 300Mbps, even though the Ethernet port on their adapters support only 100Mbps (thus forming a self-defeating bottleneck), so be careful of what you buy.
If you are signing up for a 25Mbps or 50Mbps fibre service, then powerline networking could be an option with the 100Mbps speeds it can confidently offer. If you are getting a fibre service providing 100Mbps or higher, it’s best to go with Ethernet cables.
All ready to be wired up? Choose your service provider next.