The wireless hype machine is on warp factor nine this year, and all the research suggests American consumers want wireless. So is it time to abandon structured wiring for a totally wireless solution in new construction?

Absolutely not! If anything, structured wiring enhances a wireless network because homeowners can attach wireless access points throughout the house through an Ethernet connection.

"Everyone uses cordless phones, but that doesn't stop people from installing a telephone jack in every room,'' says Tim Shaughnessy, director of solutions marketing and alliances for Netgear, which markets both wired and wireless network products. "Wireless is great for existing homes and for mobility, but for a fixed connection to a network, you can't beat Ethernet.''

At the Connections conference sponsored by marketing research and consulting firm Parks Associates in San Jose, Calif., earlier this year, Shaughnessy mapped out a hybrid Ethernet/wireless configuration based on structured wiring that makes perfect sense for new-home construction.

The basic configuration is for a two-story home with a structured wiring panel located in the laundry room that includes a cable modem, an Ethernet switch, and a wireless router. This model also has a wireless access point located in the master bedroom.

The setup lets a homeowner use an Ethernet connection to run an Icebox media player in the kitchen, a home theater in the living room, a desktop computer in a home office, and, because the upstairs has an additional wireless access point, a wireless laptop computer from any room in the house.

Hybrid nets: Builders should consider building an infrastructure that supports both wired and wireless technologies.

1. Structured wiring panel supports wired and wireless applications.

2. Ethernet connection in kitchen supports Icebox media player; homeowner can also use wireless laptop computer.

3. Home entertainment applications supported by Ethernet connection; media adapter needed to connect stereo with Ethernet network.

4. Home office applications supported by Ethernet connection.

5. Wireless access point plugged into Ethernet connection in wall improves wireless coverage to the upstairs.

6. User installs wireless camera in nursery.