Isn't everything wireless these days?

We hear this one a lot. Like, a lot. From clients certainly, builders, architects, and everyone we meet... it's reasonable if you're thinking the same.

It's still a 'no' though. Sorry.

Think about it like this:

Things have changed

  • We rely on our connected devices far more than we ever did.
  • Many more things in our homes are connected than they used to be.
  • Everyone in the family has a lot more connected things than they used to.
  • So do all your neighbours.

And you start to see the problem.

Houses haven't really changed

In Bristol and the West Country there's a lot of stone in the older houses which really (really) doesn't help - stone and concrete make perfect wireless blockers.

The other problem is metal - steels hold up our extensions and knock-throughs, foil-backed plasterboard and insulation, metal back boxes for the sockets - these create Faraday cages which block wireless really well.

Your router is probably in the wrong place

I bet it's at the front of the house. Mine too, because that's where the cable comes in.

But for the wi-fi, it means you're giving the people walking past and a couple of cars great coverage, but it doesn't get as far as your kitchen, garden, or the upper floors.

The solutions

1. Sort out the wireless

The best, most reliable solution is to have several wi-fi access points throughout the building - these are wi-fi aerials, connected via data cable back to a central router. The best access point systems are 'active' - or in other words when you move about, the system moves your device over to the best aerial.

Depending on the size of the home, we sometimes need two, often three or four, and the most we've used on a residential project is seven.

In houses with high ceilings and beautiful historic plasterwork we don't want to chase cables between floors. Instead we can run outdoor grade Ethernet cables - concealed behind downpipes this is almost invisible. On larger projects we even sometimes put a false drainpipe in to hide all the cables - and no-one even notices.

Sometimes you really can't run cables - although we'd always prefer to - and nowadays there are 'mesh' systems which talk to each other wirelessly instead.

However, mesh networking isn't quite as good, as robust, or as fast - it can't be, because some of the available radio bandwidth is used up getting the points talking to each other. You will also need more aerials in total. However if you really don't want to - or can't - touch the finish anywhere in your building then we're happy to help with this too.

Our preferred mesh solutions are 'wired and wireless' - so we have an option in case we need it.

Tidy data cabling on a Smart Home project

2. Wire everything that doesn't move

This is just common sense. No matter how fast wireless gets, wired is always faster - and doesn't clog up the wireless frequency bands. So for everything that isn't meant to move about - so desktop computers but not laptops, and TVs, set-top boxes, streamers, printers and games consoles - always use a wired connection wherever possible.

Gamers will already know that a wired connection is snappier and more responsive, which makes a big difference when things get competitive.

By wiring up all the fixed things, it improves the performance of the wireless devices too.

CEDIA Certified Networking Specialist

Great network performance is crucial for the reliability of your cinema system - and all your other tech at home. Owen is a CEDIA Certified Networking Specialist, trained to deliver excellent wired and wireless performance everywhere.