As part of my initial search for information about home adaptations for people with Parkinson’s – see my first blog on Researching Home Improvements (1) – I am also considering IT and communications. For example, is it worth still having and paying for a landline. I soon realized that the pricing of media packages for telephone, broadband and TV don’t have great incentives to give up the landline but rather have it as an integral part of available bundles. As our house is in a village there are also connection issues: the only local fibre-optic provider is BT Infinity.
It seems sensible to network a house at the same time as the electric system is being rewired so that reception is of equally high quality throughout the house. I approached Peter Reid from the Reid-IT in Loughborough, a fellow Parkinson’s person whom I had met at East Midlands Research Forums (2). He wrote: “A wired network connection in any room will be faster, more secure, more reliable and easier to use. [So I can see why it would be recommended to have network wires around the house.] If you are able to have this done, then I’d have Cat 6 (Category 6) Ethernet cable to each room. However, if you don’t want the disruption and cost of having wires installed around the house, then a HomePlug/Powerline solution can be used instead. This uses a plug-in adaptor that route network traffic around your house using the electric circuits. I use these at home.” Peter also gave me some links to information about HomePlugs/Powerlines (3) and to a recent review of the available products.(4)
I had not heard about the HomePlugs and decided that this was a more flexible but still effective way to achieve good reception everywhere we wanted in our house. The argument that a fully installed network might make the house more attractive when it comes to selling it did not convince me because there were too many variables in trying to predict this.
Subsequently Peter has offered the following additional advice regarding the selection of suitable HomePlug devices. “If you can, buy the fastest devices you can afford. Whilst you may wonder whether it’s worth paying for a 1600Mbps device, when your broadband feed is only 40Mbps, there are other factors that lead to this recommendation, such as the benefits of moving or playing media between devices in your home and that fact that the device speed in reality will be much less than the headline figure. If buying on a budget, then 500/600Mbps should be the minimum speed to buy. Also, when selecting devices, ones with through connectors – they have a plug socket on them so you don’t lose a socket when you plug it in. Note that there are versions of HomePlug products that can give 2 or 3 cable feeds not just 1 and extend your Wi-Fi signal around the house. Finally, remember that you can several device around the house, e.g. living room (TV, TV box, games console), bedrooms (TV, laptop, computer, tablet, smart phone, games console), study/office (laptop, computer, tablet, smart phone, printer/scanner). Moreover, you can unplug a device from one room and plug it into another room (or garage/shed) with no setup required!”
It feels good to have made some informed decisions thanks to the helpful advice I have received so far. In September 2016 our house purchase was completed. Now it was time to decide on the nature and extent of our home improvements for real.
Photo: Wireless Home Connection, by hywards: freedigitalphotos.net