Sunday, July 23, 2000

Totally wired: More technology for work and play means our homes need to be wired up

Most homes have been wired the same way since the 1940s, says Kurt Scherf, a home networks analyst for Parks Associates in Dallas, a market research and consulting company that specializes in emerging technologies for the home.

But a lot has changed in the past 60 years. Today, more people are working from home -- as much as 43 percent of us do at least some work from home, according to Parks. Many households have not one, but several, computers and they need separate phone lines for family and friends, business, fax and the Internet. More households also have digital satellite TV, high-speed Internet connections and digital TVs, all of which require high-performance cable.

Conventional wiring is adequate for basic voice, fax or data communications, Scherf says. Structured wiring can handle not only traditional telephone, fax and data communications but also sophisticated video and data signals from computers and at a higher rate of speed.

"If you think of wiring as a pipeline for information," he says, "conventional wiring has the data capacity of a squirt gun. By comparison, structured wiring has the capacity of a fire hose. Structured wiring can transmit more information faster."

Scherf, of Parks Associates, predicts that within five years, nearly half of all new homes will have structured wiring. That's about four times the percentage that have it now.

Structured wiring is more prevalent in homes priced above $250,000. "But even that's starting to change," Scherf says. "There are some structured wiring vendors who have made a point of telling us they're in homes valued less than $100,000, which really says a lot for the high technology found in our homes."

From the article "Totally wired: More technology for work and play means our homes need to be wired up" by Beth W. Orenstein.

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