BT researchers are working to improve home networks

Home networkingBT is investing billions to roll-out fibre broadband to the UK. One of the largest investment projects of its time, it will deliver broadband speeds that will allow people to engage in some truly life-changing activities.

But while BT’s fibre network is primed for the twenty-first century, it’s essential that people’s homes are ready to get the most from applications such as HDTV.

Clearly, the easiest way to get round this problem is to install a high quality cable around people’s home that plugs-in directly to people’s TVs and computers.

“It’s an aesthetic thing, but not everyone wants a cable running around their home,” said Nick Sim, head of the connected home team at BT Innovate & Design. “Anyway, what would happen if you wanted to use your iPad? You’d still need a wireless connection at some point.”

That’s why Nick and his team have been researching ways to improve home networks.

Options available

Other than having a cable hard-wired into the home, people have a couple of options for their home network. They could use wi-fi, but sometimes this can fade over distance.

Another popular home network solution is powerline. A router is plugged-in to an electric socket, which then uses a home’s electrical circuit as the network. Unfortunately, some people have reported that their connection falters when energy-saving lights or other household devices are switched on.

According to Nick, this has prompted his team to look at an alternative.

“One potential solution we’ve identified is a hybrid wi-fi and powerline device,” said Nick. “Our early analysis of the trials we've run of the individual technologies suggests that in many cases, each will make up for any shortfall the other may have,” he said.

In other words, by combining these two technologies Nick and his team believe they have come up with something that could deliver a home network that is more robust and reliable.

Early devices are just becoming available, and Nick and his team will be evaluating them in the coming months. But he’s hopeful that improved home networks could be just around the corner.