Q&A: Nick Phillips, Pakedge VP of Sales & Marketing

Nick Phillips, VP of sales and marketing for Pakedge, discusses the pros and cons the custom installation market could face with 802.11AC gigabit wireless.

Nick Phillips, VP of sales and marketing for Pakedge.
CE Pro Editors · May 29, 2012

Foster City, Calif.-manufacturer Pakedge Device & Software has been in business since 2003 and its goal has been to provide reliable, high-performance home networking solutions.

Nick Phillips explains the importance of robust, custom installation–specific products and the possible troubles the market could experience with the new 802.11AC gigabit wireless standard rollout.

How much has the custom networking category developed or evolved compared to what’s going on in mass-market residential networking?
The CI [custom installation] market networking category has accelerated rapidly because most A/V and control equipment is networked, and the dealers want to integrate this sophisticated technology for universal automation. Accomplishing this is difficult because most enterprise gear isn’t designed for the home, so there’s a need in the home market for more sophisticated, more reliable equipment.

The evolution of the [mass] residential market is more limited. The primary focus in that market is on streaming media and not the integration of multiple technology platforms that are common in the CI market.

What separates mass-market networking gear from the products that Pakedge is offering the custom installation market?
Most mass-market networking gear tries to cram a lot of technology into a single device. That works well for a basic home that may have a few networked computers and a few streaming devices like an Apple TV and streaming Blu-ray player. In larger systems these all-in-one components aren’t designed to handle heavy, integrated data use.

End-users will see increased performance and positive aesthetics, which we were the first to introduce through products such as routers and our switches with their clean front faces and cables that exit the back. Our access points are flush-mount designs; they are unobtrusive access points for the home.

What’s Pakedge doing to support dealers who are coping with the reality of a burgeoning home networking market?
We always develop products for dealers that address specific needs. About three years ago, per dealer request, we introduced a VLAN device that was preconfigured for plug-and-play to meet their specific needs for data segmentation with larger systems. That’s what we’ve done in the past and we’re improving on these products to solve the common problems of high-speed networking in the home.

Are gigabit technologies the future of home networks? What are some of the other technologies that home networking could borrow from the commercial market?
Gigabit is here already. Gigabit is necessary to move data on the home network with content such as HD video and other data streams that require high bandwidth. From the commercial market, the main thing will be to be able to integrate more processing power and throughput, and also fiber. Fiber is becoming more frequent with residential installs. In the past it was more of a commercial technology. We design a lot of our switches with more fiber inputs to accommodate this growing need.

How will the 802.11AC protocol impact the home networking market?
Until the standard is ratified, there may be compatibility issues with the 802.11AC protocol. Wireless is dependent on the client, the access points and the broadcasting device, and these characteristics all need to match perfectly to accomplish such high data rates. This can still be seen today with 802.11n. These products have to work in three ways: The antenna, the power of an access point and client device, and the various frequencies they are operating in all contribute to data rates. So you still have challenges with 802.11n.

As a guideline, what would be the baseline configuration you would recommend to an installer that is updating or spec’ing a new home network?
It depends on the network, but the basic solution would include our K6 gigabit router with a gigabit switch we offer that is called SW24-GB, and then our basic G or N access point such as the WAP-W3N.

There are many ways to design a network, but this is the most basic, unmanaged network we can offer. We also do a lot of design assistance when installers call us.

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