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Keeping Up With the Home Network

Manufacturer services help integrators face challenges as network demands increase and the technology continues to evolve.

Network demands are up, with no signs of slowing down. The technology is constantly evolving, and Wi-Fi 7 is on the horizon. Your mission as an integrator is to sell, plan, and install robust home networks that keep up with the times. Be sure to strategize and start at the design phase.

“Our customers look to us to provide a complete and comprehensive network solution for their projects,” says David Arellano, CTO, Signals AV, a Netgear dealer. “Our design team assesses the client’s expectations and the overall system needs. Some systems and projects need a simple, flat network, with all networking equipment residing in one central area. Others require more complex network solutions, using layer 3 switches, VLANs, and multi-gig fiber connectivity between structures with a distributed network topology. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for our projects, but we’re able to rely on Netgear having the solution to support our clients.”

Home Network – Signals AV - Netgear
An installation from Signals AV.

Signal AV’s internal team of project managers and engineers understands the demands of the network, which has dramatically changed over the last ten years. “We partner with companies like Netgear to assist with the initial design, parts selection, configuration, and troubleshooting,” says Arellano. “We are able to build on our past experiences, especially from lessons learned with every network we’ve designed and deployed. This enables us to be more efficient and effective with our deployments. We know what works, what doesn’t, and how to avoid any potential issues by properly designing our network solutions.”

With increased numbers of network devices in the traditional AV category, such as audio and video components, streaming media players, and control systems, there is more and more reliance on the network. “Other systems that were not commonly living on the network — like lighting, shades, intercoms, phone systems, and power management devices — now are,” Arellano says. “We also provide remote support and monitoring for our clients, and the partnership with Netgear and Domotz makes that task easier. We can get detailed Netgear switch information through Domotz, including firmware version and what devices are connected to which port, and take action like reset PoE per port and remotely connect to the switches.”

Recognizing the distinct needs of each customer is paramount, given the considerable variations in requirements for each installation, notes Dan Hoffman, product manager, Luxul. “This involves careful consideration of their desired network performance, the types and number of devices in use, and the specific applications or services crucial to their daily operations. Our approach is centered on delivering a concise yet thorough understanding of the evolving technology landscape. We aim to clarify how advancements like Wi-Fi 6 and multi-gigabit speeds stack up against their unique network requirements. Emphasizing the significance of every element in the network infrastructure, we are dedicated to crafting a robust network design that precisely aligns with their individual needs, and provide professional and technical assistance at every stage of the project to ensure a smooth and easy installation.”

Luxul has identified a highly effective strategy in catering to the distinct needs of residential customers through its Customer Assurance Program (CAP) — an in-house network design initiative, he adds. “Our goal is to position ourselves as the premier solution for those in search of a dependable, secure, and high-performance home network. Once you submit your project plans, a Luxul engineer will craft a personalized network design for you, complete with a comprehensive shopping list that features both essential and optional equipment. Upon proceeding with the installation of the Luxul-certified network, we guarantee its performance, including Wi-Fi coverage. In the event that the network falls short in performance or fails to provide complete coverage, we commit to rectifying the issue at no additional cost to you. For those in need of assistance with network configuration, our advanced support team is readily available for immediate engagement. Furthermore, Luxul stands behind the longevity of our products, offering a three-year warranty and lifetime phone support to address any potential issues that may arise in the future.”

Home Network - Luxul Managed Switches
Luxul managed switches.

Jon Peckman, director of sales, Access Networks, offers key considerations integrators should make to meet client demands. “Since the pandemic, clients not only spend more time working from home but also use streaming services more frequently for entertainment. These trends put an increased burden on networks. In this context, the reliability of the home network has moved from becoming an important factor to mission-critical on every installation. Now, and in the future, the home network must always work consistently.”

Along with reliability, getting the performance of the network right is critical, he notes. “Networks typically host numerous applications that assume no limits when it comes to bandwidth and delay. Regardless of the number of internet-connected devices, bandwidth consumption, or the quantity of audio and video content being streamed, the network must be able to handle the volume and traffic of signals efficiently. Clients expect enterprise-grade level performance solutions with the flexibility and capability to deliver while adhering to the latest and greatest technologies.”

Related: Misconceptions About Wi-Fi Networking

Serviceability, Peckman, says, is another important consideration. “While integrators strive for a flawless network, sometimes products may require some support to troubleshoot a system. Integrators need solutions that allow them to resolve issues as quickly and seamlessly as possible to limit downtime, so having a team of experts on their side to assist them is incredibly valuable.”

At Lifestyle Electronics, an Access dealer, sales manager Kyle Storms, takes an education-first approach by showing clients the challenges of distributing Wi-fi in modern architecture. “We review the capabilities of devices that would suit their situation and then we discuss performance and location of access points. I wrap up with the benefits of support, remote access, automation, and management. Once the client understands the options and value, they can make an informed decision.”

His best approach has been to present the design visually to the client. “Seeing a system laid out helps them understand it and the purpose of each element,” he adds. “I usually demo our system at our offices by streaming on our TVs while the rest of our team is busy working online. We run a video chat on multiple devices while we tour both levels of our offices to demo the features Access Networks access points are known for.”

The Right Stuff

“We’ve been selling pre-configured (BCS) unleashed access points from Access Networks,” Storms says. “We’re looking forward to the performance increases of Wi-Fi 7 and its new Multi-Link Operation (MLO) feature. We’re also looking forward to less signal interference in our dense systems with preamble puncturing.”

Home Neteork -Access Networks - The Premier Group
An Access Networks-managed home installation.

Signals AV uses all variants of the M4250, M4350, and M4300 series switches,” Arellano says. “There is a Netgear solution for every project, especially when dealing with large PoE budgets, higher powered 90-watt PoE devices, and multi-gig connectivity. On our smaller deployments that have AVoIP requirements, we focus on the M4250 series, with the use of the Netgear network profiles.

“With our more advanced deployments, we use the M4350-44M4X4V switch as our core switch, utilizing the Layer 3 features of the switch to function as the LAN router and connecting our 2.5G-capable access points to this switch. We can also implement a 10G connection from our firewall to the Netgear core switch along with 10G connections from the core to the remaining switches. This enables a very powerful network system with no bottlenecks and headroom for the network to grow as demands shift over the years.

“With several ISPs now offering more than 1 Gbps download speeds, we anticipate those will continue to climb and our Netgear network designs will be able to support those increased speeds, providing the best experience for our clients.”

“For a standard residential installation, the equipment Luxul provides seamlessly integrates 1 gigabit of bandwidth across the entire system, ensuring optimal performance from the router to the managed switch and through to the access point,” Hoffman explains. “Beginning with a Luxul Epic 4 or Epic 5 wired router connected to the ISP modem, you can anticipate impressive performance up to 1 Gbps WAN to LAN. This performance is sustained by a PoE-managed switch, ranging from 8 to 48 ports, catering to all your devices. The switch incorporates Layer 2 and Layer 3 management features, strategically controlling and optimizing your network. The system completes with an array of indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi 5 access points meticulously positioned to provide comprehensive wireless network access throughout the home.”

Related: Hands-On With the eero Pro 6 PoE Gateway and Access Point

As technology and media evolve, the demand for increased bandwidth from residential customers continues to grow. Luxul is poised to address these evolving needs through upcoming product launches scheduled in the coming months and later this year. These offerings will feature Wi-Fi 6 technology, delivering multi-gigabit speeds, and will provide enhanced PoE++ power capabilities.

Bottom Line

Along with remote management, networking services are a massive benefit to partners looking to expand their planning and installation bandwidth with new technology, Peckman concludes. “Designing a custom enterprise-grade networking system that will perform at maximum capacity in a technology-rich home with the latest hardware and firmware is no simple task. That is why manufacturer services play a huge role in expanding business for their dealers. They take the time to not only become experts in this new technology, but also understand the best ways to configure it to create higher-performance networking. Utilizing manufacturer services not only saves the partner immense time, but also reduces their operating expenses and extends performance benefits to the end client.

“In terms of future networking needs, this industry is always seeking to innovate to the latest technology standards and procedures,” he adds. “New products, including Wi-Fi 7, and services are always helpful to continue to create more value and meet the needs of partners and their clients.”