This page provides a topical index to material on this website covering developments in the home building industry that affect whether and to what extent new homes are "broadband ready".
Articles are listed below ordered by date of the newsletter they appeared in--newest to oldest.
Media and Broadband In Our Condo: Some Answers, More Questions (BBHR 3/6/2006)
Between August 2005 and January 2006, we completely remodeled our condo, tearing out some walls and installing new wiring throughout. This was a perfect opportunity to consider what wiring and systems we should install to support networked media and communications--video, audio, data and telephone services--both for now and for the future. We uncovered some answers--and more questions.
Here's an update on transforming our Sanibel retreat to prepare for the digital future. Setting up broadband and wireless networking for multiple PCs was trivial compared to all the decisions that had to be made in choosing cabling and equipment for both analog and digital audio and video. With many things in transition, like the move toward digital TV and the lack of a two-way CableCard, we've made our best guesses at how to future proof what we're putting in the walls.
We're into the second phase of preparing our Florida condo for the digital future. As part of a complete remodeling, we're pulling new wires through the walls and installing new video, audio, data and telephone equipment and services. We found it isn't easy to decide what to do in the midst of the transition from analog to digital media.
In this magazine which guides homebuilders on what is new and important in technology, our article focused on the importance to builders of embracing broadband. We noted that the rapid growth of broadband, the increasing use of broadband for music and video content, and the rapidly-growing interconnections between PCs and consumer electronics equipment suggest that whole-house structured wiring will soon be the norm in new construction, and not reserved just for higher-end custom homes.
We went to EH Expo earlier this month and were surprised at first by how little has changed in the two years since we last went to this show. While IP-based home networking dominates the planning of the PC and consumer electronics industries, most vendors and integrators at EHX still think in terms of proprietary products and single-purpose networks. The move toward openness, integration and more use of IP communications seems inevitable, and we did see a few "points of light".
When we agreed to act as broadband architects for the Home by Design showhouse, our goal was to demonstrate the ideas we write about and get more hands-on experience in the realities of implementing broadband infrastructure, home networking and a wide variety of interesting and useful applications on a host of products that can be bought today. We packed lots of experience into a short time and share some of what we did and learned from it in this abbreviated version of "our broadband odyssey".
We're busy getting some audio and video clips so that those of you who won't be able to take the "Connected by Design Tour" at the Las Vegas showhouse will be able to share some of the experience. Equipment and services from many of our readers' companies will play a big part in the tour.
In this article, Chris Nelson describes our efforts "to help builders devise master plans for housing developments and help them figure out what form of broadband to use, what applications are needed for now - and, importantly, later - and what equipment to select to enable the home."
She quotes us as saying "One problem is that at present there are two worlds in parallel - analog and digital. Much of the home still runs on analog, such as cable TV, radio, audio, and phones. But we're in the midst of a revolution and by the end of the decade the home will probably be mostly digital, so the industry needs to work to that end. At the same time, there will always be analog - it will not disappear - so we need a bunch of inexpensive devices to form the bridges."
Did you ever wish you could start something over from scratch? We're doing the next best thing, by being able to choose from the newest broadband products, services and infrastructure available today and integrate them into a beautiful house designed by a leading lifestyle writer and architect. The result is "Connected by Design", a showhouse that will be in Las Vegas during CES and the International Builders Show this January.
Your Voice -- Reader Stories on Home Networking Realities (BBHR 11/16/2003)
Last month's article on Dave's experience installing a simple network in his brother's house triggered a lot of email from our readers confirming that we aren't the only supposed experts who have run into trouble with home networking.
If you are planning to attend CES or NAHB's IBS in Las Vegas this January, please stop by and visit us. We're planning and hosting the "connected" aspects of a showhouse. Contact us if you'd like to show a broadband-related product or service.
CES is all about technology. But technology needs to get off exhibit floors and into real homes. Two impediments have been getting home builders to incorporate the underlying wiring and helping consumers translate from jargon like "Digital Media Receiver with built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking" to consumer-friendly terms like the "Music Lover" package. The NextGen Demonstration Home and Pulte Homes new agreement with Best Buy give us hope that those things are starting to change.
Taking Services Into Their Own Hands: One Builder's Approach (BBHR 7/31/2002)
We've heard complaints from some land developers and builders about the lack of responsiveness of incumbent telcos and cable operators in meeting the needs of their communities for high speed Internet services. Toll Brothers created Advanced Broadband, a wholly owned subsidiary, to put high speed data and video services under their own control. We visited a new development in New Jersey to see a system in operation.
Builder Technology Conference: An Upbeat Industry (BBHR 7/9/2002)
At the Builder Technology Conference in Washington, DC last month (June 2002), we delivered an invited speech (PowerPoint, 10Mb) on how new technologies will impact what builders install in homes and the services they might deliver to them. The goal of our talk was to help this group understand how some of the new technologies will impact their business and how to avoid getting burned by undeliverable promises.
Our presentation included a home movie illustrating how we use broadband, networking and digital consumer electronics technologies in our own home.
Our recent articles on "broadband plumbers" generated a lot of email and we followed up to interview the CEOs of three companies that have different twists on the business. SaVoyant focuses on the ultra-high end of the market, Intelligent Home works closely with the cable operator to retrofit existing homes and HomeSync works with production builders.
Report on Electronic House Expo -- Window Blinds, Central Vacuums and Home Networking (BBHR 4/2/2002)
Imagine what it's like to keep up with the latest advances in systems as diverse as home security, computer networking, central vacuums and energy management. That's the tall order being taken on by home system integrators. In our trip to EHX and follow-up visits, we saw how companies are targeting the mass market, the high end and new construction. We also got the scoop on similarities and differences between product suppliers, and got some glimpses of the future of audio and video networking.
We've written before about the need for "broadband plumbers" to provide and support broadband networks in the home. So we were delighted to visit with e house, a Florida company providing these services for new homes in seven cities in Florida and South Carolina.
Report on the 2002 International Builders' Show: New Homes - How "Broadband Ready" Are They? (BBHR 2/25/2002)
With all the new technology designed for homes, is new construction incorporating infrastructure for networking computers, entertainment etc.? And do developers want to offer broadband services? We report on the elements to make homes tech-ready and some of the companies involved.