If you want to set up communication lines and be ready for anything that comes along this century, you need a system that will allow you to integrate, connect, route and modernize telephone, TV, Internet and all future data lines. We can't guarantee that our system will take care of everything (no one knows what's coming), but if you install the stuff we show here, you should be set for the next 25 years or so.
You can install the system yourself using tools and materials found at a well-supplied home center. The key to this system is to feed two telephone and two coaxial cables from each wall jack to the central communication center so you can easily link any electronic components in the future. That means buying a lot of cable, but don't worry—cable is relatively cheap. Phone connections are made by linking different phone ports with “patch cords.” Video cable links are made by connecting cables with cable splitters.
There's room in the telecommunication distribution box for other electronic enhancements too. At some point, you may want to add computer networking components, hardware to boost video signals and more cable splitters for connecting different components.
Here's the basic hardware you'll need:
- Telecom distribution box: This box contains the telecommunication module and the connecting hardware that are the wiring hub of the home.
- Telecommunication module: This module snaps into the panel and contains the phone terminals and the main cable splitter block. The phone and coaxial cable lines from the street connect to these terminals, as do the lines from the individual jacks in your home. You can add patch cords and splitters to network lines inside your house. 3
- CAT-5e telephone cable: This high-quality cable eliminates interference from internal and external electronic traffic for clear, unobstructed signals. It's capable of carrying high-speed Internet service as well as up to four telephone numbers.
- CAT-5e modular jacks: These are the actual wall terminals that your phones and computers plug into. They come with a special “punch-down” tool for hooking the eight CAT-5 wires into the jack.
- RG-6 coaxial cable: This cable is similar to conventional TV cable but made to higher standards for clearer signal transmission. A must when TV goes completely digital by 2010.
- Crimp-on F-connectors: These are the female plugs that crimp onto both ends of the RG-6 cable to connect into the panel box at one end and into the wall plates at the other. Use a special “Coax Strip and Crimp Tool” to connect the cable to the F-connectors.
Avoid tight bends of less than 2-in. radius; smooth, gradual ones are best to protect the wire.
Clamp cables to framing with nylon cable straps, lightly secured around the cables and screwed to the framing. Never compress, crush or deform the wire.
Pull gently on cables when feeding them through holes and tight spaces. Pulling with more than 20 lbs. of force (as if you were really pulling your bootstraps tight) will distort the delicate twists and compromise the quality of signals.