As homeowners consume more and more content online, the efficiency of the in-home network becomes increasingly important.
However, the ability of a network to carry a data signal will only ever be as good as the integrity of its individual parts.
It comes as no surprise that in-home network radio frequency (RF) performance has a vital role to play in delivering services that meet consumers’ increasing demands for performance quality while also enabling operators to maintain control of costs.
We're exploring three key factors that contribute to the effectiveness of in-home network performance - the quantity of products used, the quality of components and the efficiency of the installation process.
1) The quantity of products
As the number of revenue generating units (RGUs) ramps up within the home, it also brings with it a demand for additional components such as connectors, passive splitters, drop amplifiers or coaxial cables, as well as modems and set-top devices.
RGUs typically require passives in order to reduce signal carrier strength and minimize noise infiltration. At the same time, it’s also important to consider the cumulative effect that additional devices or components can have in terms of increased noise issues and a greater funneling effect in the return path.
The failure of individual components within the home network can also lead to a higher frequency of service calls - a systemic problem that can often be difficult to track for any single component and which has a direct impact on the total cost of ownership (TCO).
2) The quality of components
The quality of the components used to connect multiple home devices is another key contributor to efficient performance, and especially so when it comes to electrical integrity and component reliability.
RF ingress and egress from components that have poor RF shielding can lead to interference and noise that funnels in the return path to the head-end or at the cable modem termination system (CMTS).
An increase in RF noise will also inevitably degrade performance, which can lead to a rise in error rates and a reduction in the integrity of the data flow.
3) The quality of installation
The greater the number of components that require installation, the higher the risk of installation errors.
While it’s relatively easy for a consumer to set up a home network, even the smallest of flaws can impact performance. It’s not surprising that as the popularity of customer self-installation increases, there is a corresponding increase in the number of craft errors, which can lead to a higher frequency of service calls.
One of the most common causes of repeat service calls is a loose connection, meaning an indoor connector is less than finger-tight. More than 50 percent of all indoor connectors are loose.
In many cases, a connector may be loose with no ground continuity, meaning the connector post and nut are left floating or uncoupled. This leads to high resistance and results in instant signal level degradation, as well as causing ingress and egress issues.
It’s also important to bear in mind the effect of low signal level on in-home performance degradation. If there is a reduction in the overall signal level as a result of increased passives (and associated passive loss), then this may not be sufficient to deliver adequate performance and will require amplification.
The quantity of products, the quality of components, and error-free installation are all significant contributors in maintaining the integrity of in-home connectivity.
However, by being cognizant of these issues, it’s possible to competitively deliver services that continue to exceed consumer demand and ensure a profitable future for service providers.