Home network

Home network
Home networking standards
Common name IEEE standard
HomePlug IEEE 1901
Wi-Fi 802.11a
Common name ITU-T recommendation
HomePNA 2.0 G.9951–3
HomePNA 3.0 G.9954
HomePNA 3.1 G.9954
G.hn/HomeGrid G.9960–1
G.hn-mimo G.9963
G.hnta G.9970
G.cx G.9972
Computer network types by geographical scope
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A home network or home area network (HAN) is a residential local area network (LAN). It is used for communication between digital devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and accessories, such as printers and mobile computing devices. An important function is the sharing of Internet access, often a broadband service through a fiber-to-the-home, cable TV, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or mobile broadband internet service provider (ISP). If the ISP only provides one IP address, a router including NAT proxy server and typically a network firewall, allows several computers to share the IP address. The router may be emulated by a PC with several network interfaces, but today a dedicated hardware router is more common, often including a wireless accesspoint, providing WiFi access.

In operating systems, a home group is a feature that allows shared disk access, shared printer access and shared scanner access among all computers and users (typically all family members) in a home, in a similar fashion as in a small office workgroup, i.e. by means of distributed peer-to-peer networking (without a central server). Additionally, a home server may be added for increased functionality.

A Windows HomeGroup is a new feature in Microsoft Windows 7 that simplifies file sharing. All users (typically all family members), except guest accounts, may access any shared library on any computer that is connected to the home group. Passwords are not required from the family members during logon. Instead, secure file sharing is possible by means of a temporary password that is used when adding a computer to the HomeGroup.[1]


Physical transmission media

Home networks may use wired or wireless technologies. Wired systems typically use shielded or unshielded twisted pair cabling, such as any of the Category 3 (CAT3) through Category 6 (CAT6) classes, but may also be implemented with coaxial cable, or over the existing electrical power wiring within homes.

One of the most common ways of creating a home network is by using wireless radio signal technology; the 802.11 network as certified by the IEEE. Most products that are wireless-capable operate at a frequency of 2.4 GHz under 802.11b and 802.11g or 5 GHz under 802.11a. Some home networking devices operate in both radio-band signals and fall within the standard 802.11n.

A wireless network can be used for communication between many electronic devices, to connect to the Internet or to wired networks that use Ethernet technology. Wi-Fi is a marketing and compliance certification for IEEE 802.11 technologies.[2] The WiFi Alliance has tested compliant products certifies them for interoperability.

As an alternative to wireless networking, the existing home wiring (coax in North America, telephone wiring in multi dwelling units (MDU) and power-line in Europe and USA) can be used as a network medium. With the installation of a home networking device, the network can be accessed by simply plugging the Computer into a wall socket. The ITU-T G.hn and IEEE Powerline standard, which provide high-speed (up to 1 Gbit/s) local area networking over existing home wiring, are examples of home networking technology designed specifically for IPTV delivery. Recently, the IEEE passed proposal P1901 which grounded a standard within the Market for wireline products produced and sold by companies that are part of the HomePlug Alliance.[3] The IEEE is continuously working to push for P1901 to be completely recognized worldwide as the sole standard for all future products that are produced for Home Networking.

Network devices

An example of a simple home network

A home network may consist of the following components:

Infrastructure devices

  • A modem for connection to an Internet access service (either a DSL modem using the phone line, or cable modem using the cable internet connection).
  • A residential gateway (sometimes called a broadband router) connected between the broadband modem and the rest of the network. This enables multiple devices to connect to the internet simultaneously. Residential gateways, hubs/switches, DSL modems, and wireless access points are often combined.
  • A wireless access point, usually implemented as a feature rather than a separate box, for connecting wireless devices

Client devices

  • A PC, or multiple PCs including laptops, Netbooks and Tablet PC’s
  • Entertainment peripherals - an increasing number of devices can be connected to the home network, including DVRs like TiVo, digital audio players, games machines, stereo system, and IP set-top box as well as TVs themselves.
  • Internet Phones (VoIP)
  • Smart Phones connected via Wifi.
  • A network bridge connects two networks together, often giving a wired device, e.g. Xbox, access to a wireless network.
  • A network hub/switch - a central networking hub containing a number of Ethernet ports for connecting multiple networked devices
  • A network attached storage (NAS) device can be used for storage on the network.
  • A print server can be used to share printers among computers on the network.

Older devices may not have the appropriate connector to the network. USB and PCI network controllers can be installed in some devices to allow them to connect to networks.

Network devices may also be configured from a computer. For example, broadband modems are often configured through a web client on a networked PC. As networking technology evolves, more electronic devices and home appliances are becoming Internet ready and accessible through the home network. Set-top boxes from cable TV providers already have USB and Ethernet ports "for future use".

Home networking may use

  • Ethernet Category 5 cable, Category 6 cable - for speeds of 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s, 1 Gbit/s, or 10Gbit/s.
  • Wi-Fi Wireless LAN connections - for speeds up to 450 Mbit/s, dependent on signal strength and wireless standard.
  • Coaxial cables (TV antennas) - for speeds of 270 Mbit/s (see Multimedia over Coax Alliance or 320 Mbit/s see HomePNA)
  • Electrical wiring - for speeds of 14 Mbit/s to 200 Mbit/s (see Power line communication)
  • Phone wiring - for speeds of 160 Mbit/s (see HomePNA)
  • Fiber optics - although rare, new homes are beginning to include fiber optics for future use. Optical networks generally use Ethernet.
  • All home wiring (coax, powerline and phone wires) - future standard for speeds up to 1 Gbit/s being developed by the ITU-T (see G.hn)

Home Coverage


Wireless Signal Loss

  • The Wireless signal strength may not be powerful enough to cover the entire house or may not be able to get through to all floors of multiple floor residences.

Wired Background "Noise"

  • One of the largest challenges posed for those that wanted to utilize the home electrical system for networking is how to combat other electrical “noise” that would be present due to the use of a power outlet to transfer information. Whenever any appliance is turned on or turned off it creates noise that could possibly dissrupt data transfer through the wiring. IEEE products past the HomePlug 1.0 stage have combated this problem and no longer interfere with, or receive interference from, other devices plugged into a power outlet.[4]

"Leaky" WiFi

  • WiFi often extends beyond the boundaries of a home and can create coverage where it is least wanted, allowing a way for people to compromise a system and retrieve personal data. The usual way to combat this is by the use of authentication, encryption, or VPN that requires a password to access the WiFi.[5]

See also

  • Domotics
  • Home server
  • Universal Metering Interface (UMI)


  1. ^ Greg Holden, Lawrence C. Miller, Home Networking Do-It-Yourself for Dummies, John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
  2. ^ “Discover and Learn,” WiFi Alliance, http://www.wi-fi.org/discover_and_learn.php (accessed June 30, 2010).
  3. ^ Faure, Jean-Philippe. “IEEE P1901 Draft Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications,” IEEE Standards Association, http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1901/ (accessed June 22, 2010).
  4. ^ “Frequently Asked Questions,” HomePlug Powerline Alliance, http://www.homeplug.org/about/faqs/ (accessed June 22, 2010).
  5. ^ Wangerien, Brian. "The Challenges of Wi-Fi." Communications News. Encyclopedia Britanica. Web. <http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/21597846/The-challenges-of-WiFi>.

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