This isn't the first time that in-home cabling issues have risen to the top of the priority list. For years, the industry has been trying to deal with substandard in-home wiring and connectors that are typically installed by do-it-yourselfers. Often, the equipment used comes from retail hardware and electronics stores and is of poor quality, with little or no shielding.

While cable operators understand homeowners' motivation to perform in-home wiring themselves, substandard components lead to poor picture quality and noise, and could induce other problems higher in the network.

A few years ago, the NCTA Engineering Committee attempted to tackle the issue by establishing an in-home wiring subcommittee. That group's task was to evaluate the extent of network problems associated with in-home cabling and suggest solutions. Also, the SCTE organized a committee and asked it to write a series of recommended practices aimed at making the entire drop system better.

Others took a different tack and attempted to open a dialogue between the cable industry and organizations such as the homebuilders association, among others. The intent was simple: educate homebuilders about the issue and press them to use high-quality coax and connectors when pre-wiring new homes for cable service. Square D, an electrical equipment manufacturer, developed the Elan home network, which was a compilation of high-quality components aimed at distributing high performance signals throughout the house.

Lately, however, action has been lacking. The NCTA subcommittee has been largely inactive, and other initiatives seem to have lost their momentum. This is problematic, because the issue has actually become more important as the industry stands ready to deploy digital networks. Substandard in-home wiring could very well make digital service delivery impossible.

Oddly enough, the consumer electronics industry might come to the rescue. Through a group called Wire America, the CE industry intends to spend millions of dollars educating the public on the benefits of using high-quality wire and components in the home. Why? Because electronics equipment manufacturers are currently focused on two issues that scream for high-quality premise wiring: home theaters and home automation.

The cable industry shouldn't be caught unaware by this new initiative. It behooves everyone to quickly convene a meeting between EIA and cable TV interests to determine the scope and message of this education effort so that all parties can benefit. Having already been down this path, MSOs could approach the meeting proleptically and help make the effort fruitful.

Contact Roger Brown at: