THE National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre rollout is scheduled to commence in most Rockhampton suburbs early 2013, and there are some things that you can start preparing now so that the transition will be a little smoother. If you have the internet connected now via ADSL, you will already have a small box called a modem/router connected to your phone line. This converts the existing copper telephone line into 'wireless/wifi' or 'Ethernet' cable for use in the home. When the NBN is delivered in your area, the installers will provide a small box which performs the same basic functions as an ADSL modem. You will still need a 'router' and it's possible that the one you have now will work. In technical terms you need a router that can be put into 'bridge' mode or that has a WAN port, you may need the services of an IT professional if this sounds a bit confusing or you aren't comfortable digging around in your router configuration pages. Once this is done, your home network will be pretty much the same as before just much much faster, capable of many services that were unthinkable a few years ago.
Some routers have other features which make them excellent for use in an integrated home. I use the AVM Fritz!Box which functions as a modem/router, gigabit switch, DECT phone base-station with VoIP, answering machine, wireless access point, fax gateway, and printer/media server. This is NBN ready and replaces several separate boxes that many people have in the home. Other companies including Apple, Linksys, DLink, and Belkin have products which are NBN-ready as well, but the Fritz!Box is particularly well featured.
The next feature that makes an integrated home useful is connectivity to the television and home stereo. These are often referred to as network media players, and include products from Apple, Sony, DLink, and Microsoft. I use the Apple TV, which connects to your television and stereo via HDMI and optical audio, and to your home network via Ethernet or wireless. It allows purchasing of music, television shows, and movies, streaming of photos, audio and video from other home devices such as computers and iPhone/iPad, and the playing of media files, YouTube, and other content across your home network.
All of these devices are classed as consumer products, have relatively simple instructions and online resources, but you may still feel more comfortable employing the services of experienced IT professionals. Stay tuned next time for more adventures into technology and gadgets.