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10 Points About IP

IP. Those two little letters are so important in many of the latest home technology products that we install. IP stands for Internet Protocol, which has become the defacto language that newer electronics products use to communicate with one another in the home (like your computers) and to the outside world via a high-speed Internet connection.

With IP connectivity you can distribute audio, video, and data all around the house from digital content that you have stored or downloaded from the Internet. Without it, you have islands of entertainment or data content in your home, accessible only in the place where the content resides. For example, we dont have a water heater in every room that needs hot water; we distribute it through an infrastructure of pipes and fixtures that can transport and dispense hot water. Like the water heater service, we now have hard drives that can distribute their audio/video and data content over an infrastructure of Cat-5 computer wiring to IP client devices throughout the home. Just as you need to know a little about a plumbing system (like where to turn the water off when youre dishwasher starts leaking), you need to know some facts about the IP system in your clients home, because it is the lifeblood of a digital home infrastructure.

1) You cant touch, see, feel or smell IP, but you can tell if its working with your computer by running what is called a ping test. On an XP computer you need to open the RUN command (to get to a DOS prompt) and type in the line: ping If you get a ping reply, then you know that the computer is connected on your home network and to the outside Internet (in this case the Yahoo portal). If you receive no reply, then your IP is not flowingeither the problem is inside your home or with your gateway connection to the outside world.

2) IP network connections used to be only on computers and laptops. Now you can find them on printers, storage drives, thermostats, lighting control systems, A/V receivers, speakers and even pianos! (see

3) IP is the language of the Internet. It is part of the protocol TCP/IP. Just as English is the dominant language in the world for verbal communication, IP has become the dominant form of data communication primarily because of the Internets phenomenal success.

4) IP-enabled products can often be controlled and upgraded from computers and/or over the Internet. This makes them potentially easier to use and to upgrade. For example, a TiVo with an IP network connection can display photos from your homes hard drive or allow you to program it remotely from an Internet-connected computer. TiVo without an IP network connection is simply a personal video recorder connected to your television.

5) IP is a feature that you should look for in each of the A/V products that you sell and support; it may be the important differentiator that can help you decide between two similar products.

6) IP can travel over wire or wireless connections. Over wire, it can travel up to 300 feet in the home before it needs to be repeated or amplified by a hub or switch. Over a wireless connection, it can travel 50 to 150 feet inside the home. The farther it has to travel, however, the slower its data speed will become.

7) IP is a data language. You need to have a basic knowledge of IP addressing, static and dynamic IPs, and private and public IPs to navigate and successfully deploy and troubleshoot IP systems in your home. You have learned the English language to communicate with your fellow human beings, now you need to learn some basic IP language to communicate with your fellow electronic friends.

8) Read Ciscos new Home Networking Simplified booka good place to learn more about IP and how to plumb your home properly to take best advantage of it. Or take some of the home networking courses offered at CEDIA EXPO in Denver this fall.

9) Your customers will usually have patience for resolving IR remote problems that have sporadic control issues, or touch screens with sluggish response times, but their home network had better always connect to the Internet or you will get a service call that requires an immediate response.

10) Lastly, heres an image of IP that I will never forget. A few years back, on the back of a Cisco conference shirt I saw a picture of a little boy peeing on the floor with the caption reading: IP Everywhere! Never has that slogan been truer than it is today.