Most 'home networking' users are do-it-yourself installers

A recent study finds that 95% of home-network users installed their systems primarily by themselves, using Internet research, instruction manuals, and books as their guides

Sep 1st, 2002

Compiled by Brian Milligan

A recent study finds that 95% of home-network users installed their systems primarily by themselves, using Internet research, instruction manuals, and books as their guides. In-Stat/MDR's (www.instat.com) report, "Follow the Leader: A Survey and Analysis of Advanced Home Network Users," also says that its survey respondents who now do not have a home network but are interested in one are also largely do-it-yourselfers, but tend to rely more heavily on other sources as well.

Also from the report, 90% of respondents who do not now have home networks say they plan to buy one within the next year; half of them say they will do so within three months.

Home networking, however, often does not mean a residential structured cabling system, points out John Pryma, general manager of Genesis Cable Systems (www.genesiscable.com) and co-chair of the TIA TR-42.2 Residential Telecommunications Infrastructure Committee. "Connecting your computer to a peripheral device can be considered 'home networking,'" Pryma notes. "But to compare that to the installation of a full-fledged structured cabling system would be an apples-and-oranges situation."

Indeed, the In-Stat/MDR study says the primary applications for home networks are file, printer, and Internet-access sharing.

"Today, many residential structured cabling systems are installed at the direction of real estate developers, who are building housing developments and include these systems as amenities," says Pryma. "The systems installed in these homes include distribution boxes and home-run wiring, sometimes with multiple outlets per room."

He points out that the TIA/EIA-570A Residential Telecommunications Cabling Standard is most applicable to new-construction projects, but is equally appropriate for existing buildings. But he doesn't anticipate many handyman types tearing up their existing walls to put the systems in place. "The work requires a professional, skilled installer," he concludes.

"The home networking market began to materialize, from an industry standpoint, three years ago," says Mike Wolf, a director at In-Stat/MDR. "And while large numbers of consumers are beginning to buy and install home-networking equipment, the market is just in the first stage of a transition beyond to a wider audience."

Wolf adds, "Today, many more people have awoken to the benefits of home networking, and are beginning to vote with their dollars for equipment such as basic home routers and wireless LAN cards and access points. And over time, this will transition to networked devices around the home, including network entertainment devices."
-Patrick McLaughlin

Fast facts about the TIA's residential cabling standard

  • The TIA/EIA-570A Residential Telecommunications Cabling Standard was published in September, 1999, specifying two grades of media.
  • Grade 1 includes 4-pair UTP cable (Category 3 minimum; Category 5 recommended) and 75-W coaxial cable. It is intended to support telephone, television, and limited data services.
  • Grade 2 includes 4-pair UTP cable (Category 5 minimum; Category 5e recommended), 75-W coaxial cable, and optional optical-fiber cable. It is intended to support telephone, television, data, and multimedia services.
  • The TIA published two addenda to the 570-A standard in February-one addressing residential security systems and the other addressing whole-home audio cabling.
  • The TIA's TR-42.2 Committee recently began work on a TIA/EIA-570B standard, which may be approved within one year.

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