TOO OFTEN THE DISCUSSION AROUND home networking revolves around structured wiring vs. wireless networking. For Gordon Waldhausen, product manager at Middletown, Pa.–based OnQ Technologies, which will be shipping a wireless access point in late spring, that's simply the wrong way to think about these new-home technologies.

“The way to look at it is that structured wiring provides the infrastructure and solid backbone, and wireless provides flexibility,” says Waldhausen. “Wireless flexibility allows the homeowner to walk around and run a wireless device from anywhere in the home.”

Tom Lyga, product manager at Syracuse, N.Y.–based Pass & Seymour, which plans to ship a wireless access point in the fourth quarter of this year, says the best way for people to understand how wireless fits into a structured wiring environment is to think a cordless phone.

“Even with a cordless phone, you still have bring some kind of receiver into the wall,” says Lyga. “The wireless access point is used to extend the reach of the wired network.”

Waldhausen says OnQ likes builders to think about installing hybrid networks that can deliver entertainment, home control applications, and wired and wireless communications. The wire less access points the structured networking companies are delivering will let homeowners run wireless laptops, PDAs, Tablet PCs, and wireless gaming devices.

“I don't think people understand that they're giving up something with wireless,” says Wald hausen. “For reliability, security, and speed, there's still nothing like a wired connection. you want flexibility, get wireless. We advocate combination of the two.”