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Usage of Cat5/Cat6 vs Coax for OTA antenna and / or satellite internet

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I've been researching this as best I can, and I have not been able to determine a definitive answer unfortunately. I am in the process of designing a new house and looking to satisfy my cabling needs as uniformly and as cost effective as possible. This will be in a remote location devoid of any incoming 'hard lines' (like cable or phone). As the rest of the house will have CAT6 dropped in every room for my LAN anyway, I was looking to attempt to use CAT6 everywhere / as much as possible to keep things more uniform. To that end I need to bring the following signals in, which are normally over RG6 coax:

1) Satellite internet (say Wildblue or HughesNet)
2) OTA antenna for TV
3) Wilson cellular signal amplifier

For #1 and #2 I have multiple drop points in the house (at least 4 widely separated locations), #3 would be a single drop.

From reading there are those that say CAT6 cannot be used:
Coax over CAT5
OTA through CAT5

while other places indicate it should be / is possible using baluns or a setup from this site: Lynx

If I'm going to spend more or signifcantly increase my complexity I can go the Coax route, I was simply trying to stay as consistent as possible with an eye on budget.


Thanks for the help!

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 22
You'll want to run at least one RG6 coax to every potential display location as well as cat6 (or cat5e), and bring at least one of each from your wiring closet to the outside of the house to allow connection to whatever provider(s) you'll have now, or in the future.

And yes, while you should run lots of cat6 / cat5e wire, there are things that were simply not designed to use it. Meaning OTA / CATV / Satellite feeds. While you may not utilize it immediately or in your current plan, you want to be able to utilize any service that becomes available... Which means having both types of cabling in the walls.

Adding one spool of RG6 is not going to break your budget, nor will it really increase the complexity of the system. What could do both, though, is having to work around NOT having it when the equipment / service provider you choose later requires it...


Jeff
post #3 of 22
That's a MINIMUM of 1 CAT5e and 1 Series 6 coax to each location. A much better plan would be to have 2 coax and a minimum of 3 CAT5e to each location -- 4 or 5 would be better. 1 for voice, 1 for network, and 1 for HDTV distribution. With the HD distribution, 3 pairs of the cable are utilized for the video while the 4th pair is for digital audio. If analog audio (L+R) is going to be run to a location, a separate cable is needed for that (1 pair for each channel of audio). With additional pairs of copper, you have what you need for i.r. distribution and pretty much anything you may want to do down the road..
post #4 of 22
It is already coming down to that wired is becoming a thing of the past. Trendnet just announced last week, a 1.3gbps Wireless Router. It will still be nice to have at least one wired connection to each location that you have coax, but personally I would go one coax, two Cat-6 to each plate. Any place that you know that you may have multiple pieces of equipment, you can get away with at least 6 Cat-6 drops, vs. having a switch in that location. The choice is yours.

But with Wireless Technology finally getting into a place that wired is becoming ancient technology, you may find that in five years you will not be using very many drops. We pull out six drops in our place, due to never used them, and the devices that were on them, finally went online to our Wireless network.

Even with providers going with wireless type receivers, we are finding that they are looking at the future, not the past, when it comes to connection to the gateway in the structure.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

It is already coming down to that wired is becoming a thing of the past.

Not buying it... Wired has a lot of advantages over wireless, regardless of the speed of the connection. Security, power delivery, reliability, etc.
Quote:
But with Wireless Technology finally getting into a place that wired is becoming ancient technology, you may find that in five years you will not be using very many drops.

Yep, if only we knew WHICH drops weren't going to be used... biggrin.gif

Now, that said, I do agree that we'll probably be using less wire in the future than we do now, but that's more due to the increasing use of actual 'networking' instead of the analog, proprietary, point-to-point uses that consume a lot of wire (talking cat5e here mostly) today. So I hesitate to recommend the 4-6+ cat5e runs to display locations that just recently was not at all a ridiculous number. I'd trade *some* wire to a LOT of locations over a lot of wire to too few locations. But - category cable is so cheap, more wire to more locations is still the right answer...

Jeff
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Very helpful insights, thanks to all.

Another question from someone new to this area: I've seen / read about the Coax to Catx and vice versa baluns, do they only work in some instances? Something related to the ohms of the signal being carried? So in specific, why wouldn't the OTA or satellite signals work with that architecture (balun adapters)?

And in relation to Coax, instead of running 2 RG6 would I be better off running a single RG11 and pushing 2 signals through one cable (if needed)? My max runs would be approx 80 ft or so.
Edited by drandersoninc - 1/22/13 at 5:57am
post #7 of 22
Quote:
I've seen / read about the Coax to Catx and vice versa baluns, do they only work in some instances?

They're for baseband signals, not RF..
Quote:
would I be better off running a single RG11 and pushing 2 signals through one cable

how do you plan to do that?
post #8 of 22
I would be hesitant of the cat5/6 for every thing. What about the satellite vendors like Direct and Dish do the installers work with the cat cable and does the vendor support it. I do not know about Dish but Direct has a networking system over coax called deca that needs a RG6 solid copper cable. It does not cost much more then the copper clad, and at $90 bucks for a 1000 feet at Satpro.tv you can have it every where you can think of. If I were building a new place I would do a home run from a central location inside with 3 cat6 and 3 RG6 solid with 4 RG6's to the roof. With cat6 around $110 for a 1000 feet it would not be a budget consideration for me.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

Very helpful insights, thanks to all.

Another question from someone new to this area: I've seen / read about the Coax to Catx and vice versa baluns, do they only work in some instances? Something related to the ohms of the signal being carried? So in specific, why wouldn't the OTA or satellite signals work with that architecture (balun adapters)?

And in relation to Coax, instead of running 2 RG6 would I be better off running a single RG11 and pushing 2 signals through one cable (if needed)? My max runs would be approx 80 ft or so.

No on the second part: the purpose for 2 coaxes is so that they may be used for different applications; such as 1 carrying a satellite service and the other distributing OTA. There are people who subscribe to multiple services such as DirecTV, Dish Network, and CATV. Something like that would need a separate coax for each service. And, if you wanted to throw OTA into the mix, it would need its own coax. You could have Dish Network and use the 2nd coax to get the 2nd output (of the DVR) to another room.

On the first question: Those setups work only in some circumstances (baseband video). They can't be used for CATV or OTA or satellite distribution.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAM64 View Post

how do you plan to do that?

My thought (solely from reading) was a signal combiner as described here. Perhaps that was misguided if you are questioning it.

However from the general feedback I'm getting on the thread it appears that:
1) It's better to have (in general) a separate coax line for everything that needs it
2) To keep the coax runs and not attempt any CAT6 conversion for them. Run CAT6 separate for the computer network as needed
3) Solid core RG6 should be able to handle my expected 80' runs without an issue

So unless the above summary is off I think that has answered my question(s). Thanks again for everyone's help.
post #11 of 22
If anything uses frequencies used by another service, they cannot be combined. CATV utilizes 5-750 (or 860)MHz, while OTA (including f.m.) occupies 88-806MHz. Both satellite services occupy the same bandwidths. A portion of DirecTV is in the CATV bandwidth, and so on.

If frequencies do not overlap at all, you can combine them.
post #12 of 22
I may be missing the point, but have you considered something like HDHomeRun for carrying the signal? It is not a signal converter, it is a tuner, but you plug in coax from cable or OTA, then plug it into your network, and you get two IP-addressable tuners that work with Windows MCE and EyeTv. The MCE integration is incredibly slick.

Just a thought.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
That is an interesting idea, and along the lines of what I may have been looking for. I actually contacted the company to see how it could fit into my current plan below:



In their response they essentially indicated that a future release this year would support connection to DLNA TVs / devices:
"The current model of HDHomeRun Dual will not do DLNA. The one that is coming out later this year will do DLNA.

The HDHomeRun would connect to the incoming coax from the antenna, and then to one of the ethernet ports on your router. Your PCs and DLNA devices would then be able to access it, along with the internet, each other, etc.."

If this is the case, then my cabling appear that it could possibly be simplified to piggback on the Cat6 wiring that will already be going to the target devices. In the drawing that would mean that all the red Coax lines from the OTA antenna splitter could go away, the splitter replaced with this device, and a Cat6 line simply run to the router to its left. That has a good potential.


I know there has been a lot of recommendations for running Coax lines regardless, but I do see the benefit of consolidating to primariliy Cat6 lines. I don't see any other signals I need to bring in in the future that would warrant Coax lines and would like some thoughts from folks on how having extra coax lines available have made a difference for them? And if that would make sense for my situation.

Thanks!
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

I know there has been a lot of recommendations for running Coax lines regardless, but I do see the benefit of consolidating to primariliy Cat6 lines. I don't see any other signals I need to bring in in the future that would warrant Coax lines and would like some thoughts from folks on how having extra coax lines available have made a difference for them? And if that would make sense for my situation.

I'm not going to start yet another debate on the topic. But you're mixing the system design with the pre-wiring. They are separate topics. Wire for flexibility, make sure you have your options covered. Equipment will come, go and change. You only get one chance to pre-wire.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

I'm not going to start yet another debate on the topic. But you're mixing the system design with the pre-wiring. They are separate topics. Wire for flexibility, make sure you have your options covered. Equipment will come, go and change. You only get one chance to pre-wire.
+1

Your needs/wants may change in the future and you may find a need for coax. Regardless of current intentions, you may sell the house in a few years, and there being no coaxial cable in rooms is a big detriment. Not too many people want to buy a house if they are unable to put a TV in the bedroom.
post #16 of 22
Why do some people think you don't need coax?
Why do some people think wireless is better? It will never be, radio waves sometimes have a mind of their own.
If I was doing a new home, I would have all the bases covered. Don't be a cheapie.

My Home:
Cat 3, 2 pair in all rooms for the phones. (Hate cell phone audio)
Cat 5E, multiple connections in all rooms.
RG-6, 2 cables in all rooms.

If your building a new home, don't skimp on the wiring and be sorry later.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

Why do some people think you don't need coax?
.... Don't be a cheapie.

From the responses I'm getting (and they are appreciated, thanks) I think there may be a disconnect on my rationale for this. Cost is certainly a consideration, but it's not the only consideration. I do understand the difference between pre-wiring and design and the differences between them. And I don't even necessarily hate Coax as it may seem to be the case.... smile.gif

My intent at this point is not to debate the need to provide enough pre-wire options at my 'targets' in the house, adding additional drops at each location for future flexibility makes sense and my intent would be to do so regardless. But what I am debating is why to run Coax in addition to Cat6, if I can accomplish my signal connectivity needs with just Cat6. So far it appears my internet and OTA needs can be sent over Cat6, phone already goes over Cat6, so what else would I need Coax for going forward?

And I understand the argument can be said that 'you never know' and there is certainly truth to that, but it seems that Cat(x) cabling is the up and coming standard for being able to transfer a number of types of signals (including those 'normally' done over Coax), has a lower comparitive cost for good quality, and less signal attenuation / degredation over distances compared to Coax. With these things in mind it seems like the more favored standard now would be Cat(x) cabling just as Coax was a couple decades ago...

But again, the decision will ultimately be mine and I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Those were just my considerations at this point and why I was asking followup questions.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

From the responses I'm getting (and they are appreciated, thanks) I think there may be a disconnect on my rationale for this. Cost is certainly a consideration, but it's not the only consideration.

confused.gif

The only issue is "I may run wire I'll never end up using". That's cost. That's all.
Quote:
But what I am debating is why to run Coax in addition to Cat6, if I can accomplish my signal connectivity needs with just Cat6. So far it appears my internet and OTA needs can be sent over Cat6, phone already goes over Cat6, so what else would I need Coax for going forward?

I thought it had been made clear that you cannot run OTA over cat5e / cat6. Same with satellite services (TV or Sat Radio) or other broadband applications. That is, they will require the bandwidth of an RG6 link between the antenna and the set-top box / receiver. *IF* you place all of your reception / decode equipment at a central location and distribute HDMI or TCP/IP from there to every display location without exception, then yes, you can probably do fine without coax.
Quote:
And I understand the argument can be said that 'you never know' and there is certainly truth to that, but it seems that Cat(x) cabling is the up and coming standard for being able to transfer a number of types of signals (including those 'normally' done over Coax), has a lower comparitive cost for good quality, and less signal attenuation / degredation over distances compared to Coax. With these things in mind it seems like the more favored standard now would be Cat(x) cabling just as Coax was a couple decades ago...

They are not interchangeable. And again, nearly 100% of new homes built today have a coax infrastructure as well as cat(x). Future usage will with high probability steer towards cat5e solutions, but there are plenty of use cases where coax is either the only solution or a cheaper solution. If you lock yourself out of one or the other, you may restrict your options.


Jeff
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

From the responses I'm getting (and they are appreciated, thanks) I think there may be a disconnect on my rationale for this. Cost is certainly a consideration, but it's not the only consideration. I do understand the difference between pre-wiring and design and the differences between them. And I don't even necessarily hate Coax as it may seem to be the case.... smile.gif

My intent at this point is not to debate the need to provide enough pre-wire options at my 'targets' in the house, adding additional drops at each location for future flexibility makes sense and my intent would be to do so regardless. But what I am debating is why to run Coax in addition to Cat6, if I can accomplish my signal connectivity needs with just Cat6. So far it appears my internet and OTA needs can be sent over Cat6, phone already goes over Cat6, so what else would I need Coax for going forward?

And I understand the argument can be said that 'you never know' and there is certainly truth to that, but it seems that Cat(x) cabling is the up and coming standard for being able to transfer a number of types of signals (including those 'normally' done over Coax), has a lower comparitive cost for good quality, and less signal attenuation / degredation over distances compared to Coax. With these things in mind it seems like the more favored standard now would be Cat(x) cabling just as Coax was a couple decades ago...

But again, the decision will ultimately be mine and I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Those were just my considerations at this point and why I was asking followup questions.

Coax is needed for certain types of applications that cannot be met by category cables. The bandwidth of coax cannot be replicated by category cables, not even using all 4 pairs. You will need coax for OTA, satellite, and cable TV distribution (at least to the converter box). It will be that way for the foreseeable future. My advice would be to run a minimum of at least 1 coax to each location where you would have the possibility of installing a television. I'd then run a minimum of 2 Cat 5e/6 cables to each of those locations as well. Places where you might have what would be described as a Home Theater or Media Hub - double the wiring, at least.

Your coax construction should be at least 60% AL braid with a 18 AWG BC center conductor for the Sat applications (voltage to the dish). Ideally, use true quad-shield with 2 foils and 60%/40% braid as it is only marginally more expensive than dual-shield. If you want to go all-out, look for serial digial coax with BC center conductor, foil, and 95% TC braid. This is more expensive, but the best resi coax that you can install with great resistance for both the center conductor and shield.

You can go out of your way and try to force category cables to meet your needs, but at the end of the day you will regret not having the old stand-by in your wall.

Carl (wire expert)
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

I thought it had been made clear that you cannot run OTA over cat5e / cat6.
Jeff

Indeed you had. However the HDHomeRun offering archbid discussed in his post allows just that, running OTA over cat6 vs Coax. It was an option I was not aware of, and I'm assuming others were in the same boat which is why I explored it further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

They are not interchangeable.
Jeff
That may be true at a technical level that I certainly don't understand nearly as well as most on this forum, however it appears there are multiple instances where a normal 'coax' signal can go across Cat(x) lines. One example is the HDHomeRun handling OTA antenna signals above. Another is my Verizon FIOS where the optical cable doesn't turn into Coax at my house wall per the norm, but directly into Cat6 at the house boundary. Another is satellite internet that comes in via Coax from the dish but is distributed further at the modem via Cat(x). It requires hardware in those cases to make it happen, but it appears it can happen now and to an even greater degree in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Future usage will with high probability steer towards cat5e solutions, but there are plenty of use cases where coax is either the only solution or a cheaper solution. If you lock yourself out of one or the other, you may restrict your options.
Jeff

Fair statement, I was just trying to quantify what my potential scope 'gap' of future needs that could not be met by Cat(x) is all...
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
fedders - Thanks for your inputs, I'll jot those down in my notes.


All, thanks again for all the help. I don't want this to degenerate into further conversations on Coax vs Cat(x) in a manner not helpful to others referencing this in the future. With all this information I believe I can now come up with a good game plan and again appreciate all the help. Thanks again, my question is answered.
post #22 of 22
drandersonic,

Just use your head and do what you think is right. It's your home and you have to live with your choices. I posted my opinions and what I did to my home I am totally satisfied with and no regrets.
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