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Old School Meets New School - ResidentialSystems.com

Old School Meets New School

NetStreams University is an online training program offering a greater understanding of IP networking and NetStreams' products.
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It is tough to match the enthusiasm of Petro Shimonishi, NetStreams' vice president of marketing and product planning. And with good reason, NetStreams is growing wildly, thanks to successful products and growing interest in IP-based applications.

Were a start-up that operates like IBM, she said.

The company, born out of the GE/Microsoft Connected Home Initiative nearly eight years ago, made a name for itself as an audio over IP manufacturer, and will soon distribute video. Indeed, NetStreams is beta-testing and will soon be shipping a video over IP system. "Video over IP is the future because IP is becoming the industry standard" Shimonishi explained. NetStreams will rely on its proprietary StreamNet technology to distribute, synchronize, and control both audio and video content over IP networks.

It's headquartered in Austin, TX, with eight regional locations across the U.S. and now ships to nearly 50 countries. To support its breakneck growth, Shimonishi says, NetStreams developed an online training program (in collaboration with Belden) to give a greater understanding and appreciation of IP networking and NetStreams' products.

We live in an age where the availability of information is both empowering and crippling (how do we evaluate accuracy?). So I applaud and enjoy this effort to educate an audience hungry to learn. It elevates NetStreams from your garden variety manufacturer to an investor in human capital.

The online course is free and simple to set up. Place a quick request with the company via www.netstreamsu.com and then wait for a login and pass code. After disabling my pop-ups in FireFox, I was ready to start.

Mike Weems, NetStreams director of training, began the course by claiming in his mellifluous voice that he's tried to eliminate as much Microsoft jargon from the presentation, leaving the fundamentals we need to understand about networking. This isn't an advanced seminar--it is a discussion of networking as it relates to the AV industry. Topics of the day included wiring, hardware, protocols, and IP addressing.

"For years now I've been talking about the convergence of AV and IT. This convergence has happened," Weems said. "IT is much more important to the lifeblood of a corporation or university than is AV."

Everything is going to the networkwhy? It is a familiar infrastructure but the primary reason is to save as much money by eliminating matrix switches and cabling complexity. Good networks should offer a reliable infrastructure for the consistent exchange and delivery of data without corruption or compromise.

What's new in the world of speed? 1000 (gigabit) transmission is coming soon, according to NetStreams. Get ready. (Cat6, not Cat5e, is rated for gigabit transmission, by the way.)

I knew that most networks run on Ethernet, but I forgot that Ethernet was developed by Xerox so many years ago. Its these little tidbits that I appreciatethey add so much texture to a learning experience.

I also learned that in January 2006 the CEA released the ANSI/CEA 2030 multi-room cabling standard, which in effect is a universal standard for pre-wiring. It's an important blueprint for adding multi-room audio to a home.

Installers are already requiring that the IT network be fully certified and tested. To this end, NetStreams has formed a partnership with Belden to alleviate the problems with networks including problems with UPT cables. Belden's Mike McCarthy shared information about Beldens bonded pair solution, which is designed for real, reliable performance in the modern world.

My only complaint about the online course was the lack of a pause button on the Java applet. My phone started ringing in the other room during the refresher on IP nodes, which I would have loved to pause. Instead I had to replay the entire segment, which was ok, as I now feel fully equipped to rig up my own TouchLinx system.

You can read Petro Shimonishi's take on the future of video over IP in Residential Systems' July issue here.

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