Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Do You Want Both A High Performance and Low Maintenance Network?
Looking for more info on home Networks and WiFi?
Home networks might seem like they're simple, but they're not. Smartphones are simple to use, but the technology behind them is very complicated. The fact is that we depend on a lot of technology in our daily lives, and for the most part, it's simple to use. But when it doesn't work, most of us need to seek out an expert to fix it. The truth is that home networking is sophisticated technology. It is wrapped up in electronics like routers, modems, switches and WAPs that we plug in and give us access to the internet, and beyond setting up passwords, we don't have to do that much with it. We do depend on this complex technology daily, and with the proliferation of ever more smart devices and functionality in the home, even more so. Chances are you probably don't know how many smart devices you have in your home connecting to each other and the internet – we're so used to it by now that we don't think about it. But all those smart devices can put a strain on your network. If your network is straining from the load, you'll start noticing when smart lights don't work, your smart thermostat doesn't adjust automatically, and your video streams stutter and buffer, or the app crashes. If you have a smaller house and not that many dependencies on internet access, you may get by with the standard setup provided by your internet provider or a router from your local big box store or an internet retailer. But if you want a fully integrated smart home where your AV components are centrally controlled, your motorized shades, smart lights, and smart thermostats work in concert, and you have multiple spaces with access to high resolution video, you likely need something more robust than the average setup. Why might you want a professional – like Bravo AV – to perform an updated home network installation at your New Jersey home in the Chester area? Read on to see what the difference is.
Simplifying Traffic Priorities One of the first differences with professional-level networking infrastructure is the equipment. We work with Pakedge, a company that specializes in high-performance home networking solutions. One of the things that Pakedge enables and greatly simplifies is the process of prioritizing network traffic. Some applications and devices need higher network priority than others, much like ambulances and police cars prioritize themselves on the road with flashing lights. In networking, priority also translates to latency, which is about the speed at which packets of data arrive in an application. Some applications and devices don’t tolerate gaps in traffic well. For example, high latency in a voice connection may cause you to miss parts of a conversation, or in a video you are watching the picture may stutter, buffer, or freeze. Functions like web browsing or file downloads, on the other hand, can tolerate hiccups without severe repercussions. To help prioritize different types of traffic, some network routers can set up virtual local area networks or VLANs. This is a method of separating and prioritizing traffic on a network but is a tricky feature to set up correctly. In a Pakedge system, it is very easy to segment traffic into buckets of low, medium, and high priorities. Not only that, but once segmented, the type of traffic – like video – is treated the same way in any part of the network, whether it is wired or wireless. Important home automation categories like lighting control will get high priority because when you want a light to turn on, you don't want an annoying delay that will have you pushing the button or tapping a screen again. Remote Management and Updating Remote management, as it implies, is the ability to access a home network installation remotely to update and manage the system. Pakedge integrates a feature called Bakpak, a remote setup and management facility, into their products. With Pakedge Bakpak, Bravo AV can do a wide variety of modifications to your configuration and diagnose many potential issues without having to visit your home. There is also the option to have us monitor your network, and we can get alerts that tell us if a device goes offline for any reason, even before you might notice it. The remote management feature also helps us ensure that your home network remains secure. We can apply software updates remotely to fix any security holes that may be discovered. We can also ensure that you have strong passwords and are enabling the strongest security model available to keep your data and your smart home automation system safe from hacking. Business-Grade Hardware The other difference with professional-level networks is equipment - like Pakedge - that is built to a higher level of specification than consumer products. Not all wireless routers, access points, switches, and other equipment are engineered the same way, and specs do not always tell the whole story. Pakedge equipment incorporates high-performance processors, antennas, and other components that are made to handle high-volume and high-speed network traffic. All this high-performance equipment can be neatly hidden so that it does not upset your décor. Wireless access points can be mounted high on a wall or on or in the ceiling and be rendered practically invisible. Control components and switches can be rack mounted in a central wiring closet out of sight, but still easily accessible for service when needed. For outdoor network capability, some control components are weatherized so they can withstand any of New Jersey’s climate extremes. ore Efficient Browsing and Streaming There are a few telltale signs that might indicate you would need a home network upgrade. Perhaps videos that you stream through your TV, computer or Wi-Fi-connected smart device often pause to buffer or are pixelated while you watch them. Maybe day-to-day browsing on your computers or Wi-Fi-connected personal devices is slow, or it takes a suspiciously long time for smart home technologies to respond to commands. One likely problem could be the internet speed throughout your house. Consider that if you have a basic internet plan of 150 Mbps download speeds, that can support about 6 to 12 devices at a time, depending on demand. Consider, though, that the average household of four has 40 or more internet-connected devices. And that number is only expected to grow in the years to come. With so many devices trying to access your network at the same time, your network is stretched thin – and devices start to slow. One possibility is to go to your internet service provider (ISP) and ask for increased internet speeds. Several ISPs offer plans of 1000 Mbps download speeds, commonly referred to as a gigabit service. While an increase in bandwidth might help some of your devices, it won't increase overall coverage throughout your property. If you have a Wi-Fi router located in the corner of your basement and you're trying to access the internet from the other side of your house, you most likely will suffer from a poor internet connection. This is where a professional home network installation can help your family. Not only can our team help you coordinate with your ISP to increase internet speeds to your property, but we also can run wire from your main switch in the basement to strategic placements throughout your house where we can install indoor and outdoor wireless access points to extend internet signal – ensuring every corner of your property is covered. Improved Network Security Another way that a professional network installation can benefit your family is through enhanced digital security measures. We recommend using Cat 6 cables whenever possible for hardwired connections. Not only are they more reliable than wireless connections, but they also are more secure since you aren’t connected through a broadcasted signal. That said, we know that you can’t utilize a hardwired internet connection for every device in your house. For laptops, personal smart devices and even smart home devices, that simply is unrealistic. So, what steps can you take to ensure your wireless network is secure? Firstly, ensure that your network is password-protected. When you first buy a router or access point or are provided one by your ISP, it might come without a password or perhaps a default password. Hackers know these defaults and will use them to access your network. If your network doesn’t have a password at all, your information is severely at risk. Some other tips to improve network security include changing your password and SSID (network name) regularly, disabling the public broadcast of your SSID, enabling WPA encryption to protect your data submitted through the wireless network and enabling MAC address filtering – allowing you to handpick the devices that can access your network. An easy way to grant access to your vistors is to have them log onto your guest network. This way, they are not on your network and they don't have the password for your network. We know that handling all of those network security measures on your own can be overwhelming. That’s why a professional home networking solution can help – you can just sit back and let the experts take care of it. How Bravo AV Can Help At Bravo AV, we are proud to be northern New Jersey’s local home network installation experts. We are here to be your expert source for protecting your data and improving your network performance. But we don’t just take care of those measures discussed above. For example, we can connect all of your internet-connected devices for you – including through Cat 6 or Cat 7 hardwired cables when possible Additionally, we also can help you update software across your several devices – televisions, gaming platforms, computers and more. This is especially important as if your hardware doesn’t have the latest operating software, performance slows and the devices become more vulnerable to security flaws. For additional resources, please visit our page on Home WiFI Networks with articles like this on everything you need to know. Additionally, you can check out our photo gallery on the same page to explore our previous work.
Bravo AV is proud to be an HTA (Home Technology Association) Certified Installation Firm and professional A/V experts. Tom Curnin, the owner of Bravo AV, is a CEDIA Professional Designer, a certified THX Level 1 home theater professional and a member of the Home Acoustic Alliance trained to Level II. You can contact Tom directly at (908) 953-0555 or through email at Tom@BravoAV.com.