If you're working with a CEDIA member home technology professional on a whole-home connected entertainment system, don't be surprised if the equipment list contains much more advanced home networking equipment than you may have expected.
Wouldn't an expensive off-the-shelf router from you local electronics store work just as well, you ask?
Actually, no, it wouldn't. There are several very good reasons that installers are embracing more advanced home networking solutions, and you should, too.
Most cheap, off-the-shelf networking solutions are designed with traditional internet usage in mind, but even now, streaming video accounts for a much larger slice of the bandwidth pie than does web surfing, email, and the like. And in just a few years, the amount of network bandwidth dedicated to video streaming alone is predicted to more than double.
Now, add to that an increasing reliance on the network for home automation, security, intercom communications, and more. If today's bargain routers aren't designed to handle the vast amounts of data required for video streaming (both from within and outside the home), how are they going to handle the escalating burden of traffic of tomorrow's ever-increasingly connected home?
It isn't just a matter of how much data is pumping through your home; often as not, it's about how it's routed. The more intelligent QoS (Quality of Service) features of a better router will allow you (or your installer) to more intelligently control which devices in the home should take priority in the competition for bandwidth.
A higher quality router is much more likely to include advanced features that range from simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (for increased flexibility in home network setup), to USB file-sharing support, to Virtual Private Network access (which allows you to safely and more reliably access your network while away from home), to essential future-proofing features like IPv6.
When the music and video stops flowing around the home, owners of less-expensive over-the-counter routers are generally stuck with two options: "reboot or replace." More advanced routers are more likely to be equipped with tools that will allow you (or your installer) to diagnose the situation (sometimes even remotely), which saves both you and your installer time and money. And speaking of saving money....
The average lifespan of a cheap over-the-counter router is two to three years, whereas a more robust router can be expected to have as much as two to four times the lifespan. Yes, you'll definitely pay more for a more reliable router now, but you'll probably find yourself spending less money in the long run.
To learn more about the latest in home networking, consult a CEDIA professional in your area.