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YouView present UK contractors with a huge opportunity

New Connected TV technologies such as YouView present UK contractors with a huge opportunity to extend their portfolio and make money from connected TV installations

The advent of iPads, connected TVs and music streaming systems has not only met but also fuelled our ever-growing desire to stay connected to each other and access the information, music and films we want far more quickly and easily than ever before. Suzi Perry's speech at NICEIC Live South hit the nail on the head – we can't cope without our gadgets, and this offers contractors many new opportunities – from installing new kit to rewiring properties and installing new sockets.

The latest big advancement in connected entertainment is YouView – an Alan-Sugar-backed set top box that offers consumers a combination of over 70 digital TV channels and catch-up TV services from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. The game changer from a home networking perspective is that these services must have a robust Internet connection.However, the first devices to market don’t even feature WiFi – presumably to cut down on the number of angry callers unable to reliably stream Eastenders out of the box. As such, many buyers will need a robust, wired home network if they’re going to access catch-up TV services.

As a contractor, the only notice you’re likely to have previously taken of routers, switches and other networking kit would be in ensuring electrical sockets are situated accordingly. WiFi is easily installed yet also easily toppled by thick walls and interference, while running CAT5/6 network cable around a house is a big job. While it falls outside Part P and isn’t governed by as strict regulations as electrical wiring, the number of potential issues with cable run lengths, angles and interference from power cables means the majority of contractors will leave it to the full-time network installers.

But now, there’s a far simpler way for contractors to get involved with home networking: Powerline Communications technology. In fact, Powerline is nothing new, having emerged into the consumer market ten years ago. Internet data is transmitted by modulating it over the AC signal carried on a mains power line – essentially turning electrical cables into electrical and data cables.

For the electrical contractor, however, the opportunity has arisen through a change in how the products are designed – namely moving the Powerline components from a temporary plug-in adapter to actually within a double-gang power socket itself. This change is as simple as it is effective; no extra connections are required over the standard live, neutral and earth screws. This means it falls under BS7671, and there’s no further accreditation required over the NICEIC’s Domestic Installer Scheme Qualification.

This design shift from a consumer plug to a device that is hard-wired into the very fabric of a building’s electrical infrastructure makes it less compelling for the plug-and-play consumer and far more interesting to the professional contractor – who can now offer customers an upgrade from electrical cable to electrical and data cable.

For the contractor working in a home that has just purchased a YouView box or other connected TV and is still pondering how to wire it up to the Internet, the opportunity is obvious; as Suzi said, there is a growing opportunity to rewire and extend properties to meet the demand of new kit, and your customers will find it hard to argue that the best type of socket you could install next to their new gadget is one that not only powers it but connects it to the world, too.