Just as businesses link their office computers, parents are networking at home to share Web connections among family members. Grandparents exchange e-mail and pictures with their grandchildren. Students file book reports and get test grades online. Communicating in this brave new world has never been easier.

That's the good news. The downside is that most homes still lack the internal wiring capacity for this and other technology yet to come. And it's not just future technology that's "on the line." The increasingly sophisticated equipment most of us already have in our homes today also requires updated wiring - right now.

What is Communications Wiring?

Let's begin with some basic terminology. "Broadband" is an often-used term that applies to both the digital equipment that demands additional wiring capacity, as well as to the transmission methods that deliver it. Broadband exists today in such applications as high-speed Internet access, streaming audio and video, and home networking. To enable these technologies to work at optimum efficiency - or to work at all, as many home computer users have discovered, consumers need to upgrade their homes' existing wiring "infrastructure."

It's all about the wiring. Think of communications wiring as a pipeline. If you want more data-carrying capacity, you need a pipe with greater diameter. Obsolete, old-style telephone wiring just can't cut it. Fortunately, the wiring that can handle all of our communications needs, now and in the foreseeable future, is available today at modest cost - and it doesn't have a pipe-size diameter. It's called Category wiring.

Category wiring contains four pairs of tightly twisted, high-quality copper wires that can handle multiple phone lines and support high-speed digital communications. Sometimes mated with new, improved RG6 coaxial cable for video signals, this "structured wiring" package is a potent carrier for a home's total electronic needs, from digital feature-phones to home computer networks. As technology and electronics continue to advance, the need for Category wiring in homes will be unavoidable. To learn more, read Should I Upgrade?

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