In this article I’ll outline the options available regarding coaxial cables, also known as the cables for a TV antenna, satellite dish, Foxtel, NBN (HFC), and also for ethernet or data cables.
It is very important to pre-plan TV and data points while your house is still under construction and before the walls have been built. There are two main types of walls: plasterboard and brick walls. It is much easier to run cables inside plasterboard walls, also commonly known as gyprock walls, because during the construction stage they get attached to timber beams only. You need to plan all your TV points, Foxtel points and pre-run the cables before plasters get in place.
It is also important to plan the entertainment system in your future house in a way that will be sustainable and long lasting for many years. In this article I’ll share with you how I would personally run coaxial and data cables in my new home while building it. I’ll also recommend some different scenarios for running cables.
Disclaimer: The following is my personal opinion based on years of experience in cabling industry. This article is for educational purposes only. Please consult licensed professionals before running cables or call me directly for a quote on site. ACMA type OPEN licence or equal is required.
Scenario one: Three cables per TV point
In an ideal scenario, I would follow one simple rule – 3 coaxial cables per TV point.
Here is why:
Generally speaking, I need one cable for a TV antenna and two cables for Foxtel. Having 3 coaxial cables per TV point is the most reliable set up because:
- Three cables give you room for one faulty cable if one were to get damaged.
- The rule of three coax cables is eliminating other unnecessary equipment and signal losses.
- Cables are cheap and reliable; more is better than less.
Scenario two: Two cables per TV point
You can also get both Foxtel and aerial signal by using two cables only by using a diplexer. A diplexer is a device that can share two different signals using one cable and can do a power pass both ways. The power pass both ways is crucial for Foxtel installations. One cable will be used for the Foxtel satellite dish and the other one is for the antenna and the Foxtel second input.
The disadvantage of this method is that you will lose about 5 to 7 dB using a diplexer, therefore you have to ensure that you have a strong signal on your antenna and a satellite dish to compensate for the potential losses.
I would recommend this method only to those who have already built their house and have two cables per tv point only. This method might also save you a bit of money. In my experience I’ve seen many houses built this way and it works okay.
Scenario three: One wire only using a Satellite Multistacker
Disclaimer: I have not used a Satellite Multistacker before. I would recommend to consult the manufacturer regarding the equipment limitations.
This method can be a lifesaver for house owners with single RG6 wired houses who can’t add more that one cable for some of the following reasons:
- The complexity of the job and potential damages to the walls
- Single wired MDUs
- Foxtel lite buildings
- Commercial properties with a single coaxial cable
I would never consider this method if building or renovating a house, townhouse, villa, and so on. I would only recommend to use this method as a last resort if you cannot run any more cables.
Also I think that this method might become popular for MDUs because it saves a lot of money when building an MDU.
If you are in a situation where your house has been prewired for an antenna only or a cable Foxtel only, then this device can save you money and may be worth trying.
In most cases all coaxial cables go to one place – either a communications room, a manhole (roof space), a Foxtel distribution box on the side of the house, or wherever the builders put the cables. Usually these places are accessible and maintainable.
So to connect your satellite Foxtel and antenna to one wire you will need:
- Satellite Multistacker
- Active tap
Data cables: Introduction
Data cables are used for multiple applications such as networking, internet, video signal transition, CCTV, smart house solutions, and so on. The general rule for data cables is that the more you have, the better. I’ll go through the best scenario to the minimum, most basic scenario, that would suit an average household.
Firstly, for every single scenario I recommend to use at least a cat. 6 solid core cable. Stay away from those who still offer a cat. 5 or cat. 5e cables as these cables are very outdated. The cat. 6 cable has a bandwidth of 10 GB/S for up to 55 meters and 1 GB/S for up to 100 meters, 250Mhz. Usually your cable runs will be about 15-40 meters per run from a data point to a communication room. If you are happy to spend more, then go for a cat 6a shielded cable rated 10 Gbps for up to 100 meters and up to 500Mhz. Because of the shielding and higher manufacturing standards, cat. 6a cables have a significant noise reduction compared to a cat. 6 cable. Cat 6 cable costs about 75c RRP per meter and cat 6a costs about $1.3 AUD RRP. Cat. 6a cables are still very new to Australia. I have seen only a few cat 6a installations in new homes.
Here is a quick summary for Cat. 6 and Cat.6a
|Attribute||Cat. 6||Cat. 6a|
|Frequency||250 Mhz||500 Mhz|
|Maximum speed||1 Gbps up to 100 m|
10 Gbps up to 55 m
|10 Gbps up to 100 m|
|Cost per meter||75 c||$1.3 AUD|
Scenario one: Technology is your life
As I mentioned earlier on, you are going to need 3 coaxial cables per TV point because you generally have only one TV per point and one Foxtel box which requires two coaxial cables. This is a pretty simple estimate. However, with data cables you will need to plan out a little more.
First of all, you are going to connect your TV and Foxtel box to the internet and this means you will need to run two data category 6/6a cables to every point where you run three coaxial cables. If you planning to have a PlayStation, Xbox or another gaming console, then another cable is a must because a cable connection is a crucial element of an online gaming. The cable connection significantly reduces latency in online gaming. Basically, you need to plan which applications you are going to use with each of your TV points.
The number of activities is equal to the number of data cables you will need. For example, if you have a smart TV, Foxtel box, gaming console, Blu-ray player, Fetch box and an amplifier, then you will need 6 cables (cat 6 or 6a based on your budget and requirements) plus one (just in case if you add something else). However, you can run just one cable only and connect it to a six-way 1 Gbps ethernet switch and then connect all your devices to it. This will work fine, but I would recommend to run more cables where is possible and economically reasonable.
Here is a quick summary of speed requirements for different applications:
|Application||Bandwidth Mbps||Cat 6||Cat 6A|
|YouTube 4k||Up to 15||Ok||Ok|
|4k streaming Netflix||Up to 25||Ok||Ok|
|8K Streaming||Up to 40-50||Ok||Ok|
|Google Stadia 4k HDR gaming||35||Ok||Ok|
|Moving data from SSD to SSD||550||Ok||Ok|
As you can see, both cables will do the job for the present speed requirements. However, you don’t usually build a house for the next 10 years only. The speed of applications will increase as new technologies arrive. For example, Play Station 4 PRO supports 4k at 60 FPS, Play Station 5 will support 8K according to the Sony press release.
For all other rooms I would follow the same formula: number of devices equal to the number of cables, plus one.
This amount of cabling will give you the flexibility to store all your devices in the communication room. For example, you can put all your Foxtel boxes, Gaming consoles, Blu-ray players in the one room and be able to watch and use them on all TVs in the house using certain equipment that can convert and transfer data over ethernet cables.
Apart from the cables, make sure that you are also using connectors and wall points that are rated the same as your cables. For example, don’t use 5e data outlets with 6a ethernet cables.
Scenario two: You don’t want all this crazy stuff, you just want to watch telly and Foxtel
For this scenario I recommend to run two cat 6/6a cables for the entertainment room and 1 cat 6/6a to each room where you need a wired connection. Then you can install a 1000 Mbps ethernet switch to each room where you need more than one wired connection.
Last but not least, for all installations I strongly recommend to use high quality industry-approved equipment because it might affect the quality of your picture, the lifespan of the equipment and also the fire safety standards.