I’ve been in the consumer technology industry going on 40 years and have been involved in the residential technology integration sector of our industry from its inception. Over the years I’ve worked with homeowners, builders, architects and interior designers and have seen technologies come and go. I’m sure you’ve heard companies refer to products and wiring as future proof. (I’m not sure what that really means, for if bullet proof prevents bullets, does future proof prevent the future?) I think what they’re trying to say is that their products and wiring are future ready – anticipating how the future is going to play out. But I’m not so sure that many of these product and wiring claims are accurate. Today, the acceleration and pace of new technologies being introduced is mind boggling. And although no one can really predict the future, we can and should be laying the framework of the home’s infrastructure in order to meet the challenges that new technologies will bring to us.
So how do you offer a true future ready solution for homeowners? Incorporate fiber optics into your projects. Let me start off by saying that copper, or category cable (CAT-5, CAT-6, etc.) has pretty much reached its capacity for transmitting the information being delivered within the home. Just a few years ago internet speed that achieved a 100 Mpbs speed (pretty fast) has given way to 1 Gigabit speed (really, really fast) and in just a few more years 10 Gigabit (lightning fast) will become the new normal. And copper just isn’t going to be a viable means of cabling for the modern smart home.
What about wireless? Great question. I’ve talked to many builders who tell me that wireless is all they need to worry about when considering the infrastructure of a home. But I beg to disagree and here’s why. Wireless was designed for hand-held devices such as cell phones and tablets, so we don’t have to walk around the house with a wire dragging behind us. Unfortunately, many builders look at wireless as the panacea for all technology in the home, including TV’s, Blu-ray players, as well as computers and printers. Once you factor in home offices, entertainment (4K and 8K TV and streaming – not to mention online gaming) even the best wireless networks can become overwhelmed. And that leads me to fiber optics and why I believe architects and builders should insist on adding this infrastructure tool to every project.
Let’s dispel some myths about fiber:
FIBER IS NOT EXPENSIVE. I recommend that fiber cable should be pulled to the major areas of the house we know are going to see those advanced technologies soon – the entertainment areas, home offices, master bedrooms and outdoor entertainment areas.
FIBER IS EASY TO INSTALL. Most builders don’t know this, but terminating fiber is easier than terminating category cable. So you don’t need specialized labor – many technology integrators have already been trained on this and are installing fiber today.
FIBER CABLE IS UNDER THE SAME BUILDING CODE AS OUTER-JACKETED CABLE – no special inspections needed.
FIBER CABLE CONTAINS ZERO METAL. Indoor and outdoor runs are impervious to lighting strikes, power surges and electrical spikes. This fact alone merits the installation of fiber!
FIBER ENDPOINTS ARE AVAILABLE TODAY AT REASONABLE COST, to extend 4K (and 8K) HDMI, super-fast 10G networks, and can be run very long distances (hundreds of feet) – extending to front gates, docks, garages, and other buildings on property.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS: Fiber is versatile. Most homeowners will own their home for many years, and over time technology will continue to develop and speed will continue to be of vital importance. Latency – communication delays between devices – will become an ever more important issue. It’s okay to wait an extra second or two for an email to download on your computer, but who wants that when your streaming a movie or live sporting event? Remember – how technology performs in the home is a direct reflection on who recommended, designed and installed it.
Homeowners really don’t have the option to go back and re-wire their home every three or four years. For today’s new construction or remodel, I really hope that architects and builders embrace a fiber optic cable plan and include it into every project. After all, you probably pre-plumb outdoors even if the client doesn’t want the outdoor kitchen on day one. But they might install an outdoor kitchen down the road, so let’s put in that infrastructure just in case, right? The same goes for fiber, except we know the homeowner is going to need it.
I’ve seen enough to know that we are doing a disservice to the homeowner if we aren’t moving away from copper and over to fiber. Even the existing cable service providers are running fiber to your client’s homes; shouldn’t you be running fiber in their homes? There isn’t any reason I can think of to justify not making this transition. In five years, homes with copper are just not going to have the capabilities of those homes that chose fiber. It’s that simple. Make your homes “Future Ready” today and do the right thing for your clients.
View this article at Technology Designer