• Boost Wi-Fi signals tenfold
  • Tech Trends Article by Tech 2
  • Do you have a lapsed registration?
  • Trade vs University article
  • NECA apprenticeship
  • Do you need competency training?
  • Useful links

The ‘smart wallpaper’ that can boost Wi-Fi signals tenfold.

The wallpaper, designed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could solve the problem of “not-spots” in the home

MIT claims the technology is also able double the capacity of a signal

MIT claims the technology is also able double the capacity of a signal Credit: MIT/MIT

‘Smart wallpaper’ that can dramatically boost Wi-Fi signals in the home has been invented by scientists in the US.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say their wallpaper can improve signal strength tenfold and double its capacity.

The paper-thin panels are embedded with thousands f tiny antennas which act as lens to focus signals onto specific devices, such as a phone or a laptop.

According to the research, by MIT PhD student Venkat Arun and Professor Hari Balkrishnan, the reflecting wallpaper solves the problem of indoor environments where signals can be blocked by walls corners.

“It can be manufactured as a thin, flexible sheet that can be pasted on walls as (painted) wallpaper,” the paper said, requiring no wiring.

The prototype RFocus technology uses 3,720 antennas mounted on a six metre surface, which the research states might be the “largest number of antennas ever used to improve communication links”.The MIT researchers added that at scale each of the antennas would cost just a few pence to make and install.

The antenna could solve the problem of installing signal boosters throughout a home or office to improve wireless signals.

The research follows a survey last year that found a third of homes have WiFi ‘notspot’ rooms with no signal.

Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) have called on construction firms to do more to improve WiFi coverage, saying many new homes were still being “built for the last century”.

Signal can also be affected by the architecture of a home with thicker walls making it harder for coverage to spread through the whole building.

Article sourced from – Daily Telegraph

Tech Trends is an initiative of the Cable Registrars, the ICAA and tech2, to inform and support the cabling fraternity. It will run bi-monthly in your registrar’s newsletter and will cover the cabling requirements for new developments in WiFi, 5G and residential technologies.

WiFi and 5G

New wireless technologies continue to develop and grow in their impact as they become more widespread. WiFi6 and 5G are part of the latest wave in developing wireless technologies and both technology platforms will continue to be deployed. The important thing you need to know as a cabler is, both technologies need more cabling than ever. So the question is, are you prepared?

5G and WiFi6 have a key role to play in the next iteration in the evolution of wireless technologies. Both will continue to exist and overlap, and both need cabling expertise as the demand for wireless continues to grow.

5G mobile

 5G is the overarching term used for Fifth-Generation mobile network technology. 5G mobile technology will offer users an enhanced level of service, with higher broadband speeds and low latency. It will continue to use the frequency spectrum that has been bid on, and subsequently licensed by, the government. The spectrum used for mobile communications in Australia is: 700MHz, 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 23000MHz and 26000MHz. This spectrum is currently used for the 3G and 4G network and will, over time, be used by the 5G network. This is known as the “low to mid-band spectrum”.

In addition to the existing spectrum, 5G also uses “millimeter band” frequencies from 20GHz to 70GHz. This allows download speeds to reach into the gigabits per second, but the reach of this signal is reasonably short and will not effectively penetrate buildings. To compensate for the shorter reach and limited penetration, small cells are installed both outside and inside buildings to provide sufficient coverage at these higher speeds. These cells are generally connected to the carrier network via Cat 6A and fibre cabling.

Each mobile base station is connected to the carrier’s network and forms part of the carrier’s 5G network. As the cell size is reduced, the total amount of mobile base stations will need to be increased. This results in more cabling work being required to link the base stations back to the carrier’s network. When run inside buildings, this cabling will be Cat 6A and fibre.


As WiFi evolves it is becoming faster and offering improved services, but, unlike the 5G network, it operates on a part of the spectrum that can be used by anyone, free of charge, referred to as a “class license“. The class license is the

Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) class license 2015. At this point in time, current WiFi standards use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. It should be noted that the 2.4GHz band is also used by common household items such as garage door remote controls, microwaves, Bluetooth devices, some cordless phones and much more, so 2.4Ghz WiFi may be subject to interference from these devices if they are present. In addition, as the number of WiFi devices, wireless access points and WiFi extenders increases, the WiFi performance is adversely affected.

The WiFi Alliance is also working on using higher frequencies in the millimeter wave range as this will support higher data rates, just like in the case of 5G. The problem with these higher frequencies is that they cannot penetrate walls as easily, so a single Wireless Access Point (WAP) per residence will not provide the coverage required throughout the entire house.

The solution is to increase the total number of wireless access points inside the house. They’re each connected to the modem by cat 6A cable and allow each WAP to provide high speed access in a zone of the house. These WAPs will transmit using less power, reducing potential interference between WAPs and providing the coverage needed within each room of the residence. For the TSB-162-A standard it’s recommended that cablers run two Category 6A cables to each WAP location in every room.

So if you are talking to your customer and they want to go completely wireless, make sure they are aware that a fast and reliable wireless solution needs to be supported by a quality wired network, installed by a registered cabler. If not, their wireless speeds and functionality may be compromised.

Residential technologies

What are “residential technologies” these days? One example is technology that provides access to the house, which could mean anything from a garage door remote to a full smart home solution, which allows you to secure your entire property with a single click or voice command. This article will attempt to take a more pragmatic approach to residential technology, based on the functionality you want in a home. Future articles will look more specifically at security, audio visual, smart home gadgets, the IoT home and wiring.

The best way to approach the use of residential technologies is to consider what functionality the residents of the home require. Read on by clicking here.

A good starting point is using the “Home Wiring Essentials”. The home wiring essentials list includes the following functional elements:

Age & assisted living· Safety alerts (falls, no activity, abnormal use of appliance, etc)· Security – protection against intruders – includes panic buttons etc
Appliances· Monitoring all major appliances, from the hot water system to refrigeration and washing machine· Smart grid interoperabilityDemand response
Electric vehicle charging· Charging of Electric Vehicles (EVs)· Smart grid interoperabilityDemand response· Monitoring power use (specific to charging of EVs)
Energy management· Monitoring power usage of major appliances such hot water systems, air conditioners, pool pumps, refrigeration, EES and solar systems· Implement economic cable sizing to all major appliances
Entertainment· Distributed audio and video· Free-to-air TV and high definition (HDTV) contentHome theatrePay TV
EES systems (battery)· Electrical energy storage systems (batteries)· Charging/discharging of batteries· Smart grid interoperabilityDemand response· Monitor power use (specific to batteries)
Information & communicationsInternet access· Home video conferencingIntercomsTelephony
Intelligent light and power· Control a range of systems in the lived-in environment to improve amenity and sustainability through the integration of lighting, power, communications and monitoring
Security and safety· Automatic access control· Electronic monitoringFire safety
Solar· Use of rooftop solar (PV)· Smart grid interoperability· Monitor power use (specific to PV)

Figure 1 functional elements to help plan the deployment of residential technology

You can use the functional elements in the Home Wiring Essentials to start a conversation with your customer, learning what functions they desire and then build a technology solution for them.

Discover more information about how to develop solutions by accessing the three documents that make up the Home Wiring Essentials. These can be found at

Has your Registration LAPSED?

If you are performing any type of cabling work then you are required to be registered.

Under the Telecommunications ACT 1997, it is an offence to perform any customer cabling work without the appropriate cabler registration.

Evidence of having a current ACRS cabling registration card, confirms you have the knowledge to complete the work to the required industry standards, using only approved, fit for purpose product.

If your ACRS registration has lapsed, do not panic.

Call the friendly team at ACRS on 1300 667771 or email: who will be pleased to assist you in reinstating your registration.

3 Reasons why it is better to launch your career with a Trade than going to University.

As students come to the end of the Initial learning phase of their life, the inevitable question arises: What’s next?

Since the reintroduction of student fees in the early 90’s, a university education has become an increasing burden for those who go down that path. Today we see students leaving university with huge debts, limited job prospects and smaller and smaller starting salaries.

With a shortage of skills in Australia and all the benefits that come with completing a trade, surely an apprenticeship would be a first choice to build a solid foundation for a successful career for those leaving school.

1/ Starting Salaries for Electricians are higher than Graduates.

According to Grad Stats the median annual starting salary for a new Australian resident bachelor degree graduates in full time employment in Australia was $60,000 in 2017. Given that most Graduates will finish a degree with a huge HECS Debt, this figure seems insignificant when you compare it to and 1st Year Qualified Electrician who can – according to Linkedin Research – expect a starting salary of approx. $85,000 and can easily earn over $100,000 in their first year once Qualified.

2/ Electricians Graduate with no HECS debt.

University of Sydney Electrical Engineering Degree will cost you around $36,000 to complete full time. NECA Electrical Apprentices get paid to learn and graduate with no educational debt.

3/NECA Electrical Apprentice Outcomes are better than for Graduates .

99% of NECA Electrical Apprentices are offered full time employment immediately after graduating from an Apprenticeship . This is well above the expected outcomes for University graduates who – according to some reports – have only been able to achieve employment rates as low as 55.1%. In 2017, on average 28.2 % of undergraduates were NOT in full-time employment four months after completing their degree.

As students contemplate their future after graduating from high school, they will face a variety of options. As Universities push to fill spaces and meet financial goals, students should be wary not to fall into the trap of going down a path that leads to debt, lower salaries and uncertain career prospects

Career options

If you are considering your career options or know someone who is interested about a career in the electrical or communications cabling sector, you couldn’t have chosen a more exciting and diverse industry to think about.

Getting in

There are various ways of getting into the industry; one that we offer is apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships combine practical work with structured training to give people both a nationally-recognised qualification and the experience they need for the job they want.

Apprenticeships are a great way to build a career. No matter what industry a person might be interested in, apprenticeships provide a great training option that enables the apprentice to work and be paid while undertaking the necessary training.

An electrical apprenticeship takes approximately four years to complete and traineeships take one to two years. It is even possible in some places to start training for an apprenticeship while still at school. School-based New Apprenticeships allow students to start an apprenticeship while at school.

For further information about apprenticeships, please contact NECA training in your state.

NECA Training NSW 02 9188 4424

NECA Training QLD 07 3276 7950

NECA Education & Careers VIC 03 9381 1922

NECA CET Joondalup WA 08 9233 5000

NECA CET Jandakot WA 08 6595 6600

Competencies Overview
Would you like to enhance your knowledge and create better opportunities within the workforce?

Employers are continually looking for well-balanced people with transferable skills and able to demonstrate that you are adaptable and willing to learn. ACRS often receives phone calls regarding changes to the industry and upskilling.

If you hold a current OPEN registration and looking to extend your skills and knowledge, you can complete some educational courses.

It is a mandated requirement by the ACMA to have the appropriate competencies applicable to the specialised cabling work you will be undertaking.

The changes follow industry concerns that some cabling providers lack the necessary skills to perform this specialised cabling work in a changing technological environment.

If you are working with structured cabling, coaxial cable or fibre optics, these specialised cabling competencies will need to be completed to upskill your registration.

These competencies form the basis for training programs developed by industry skills councils and delivered by recognised training organisations.

If you wish to complete any relevant competencies, please contact your NECA training centre who will offer you expert advice in selecting the relevant course that suits your needs or click here for a full list of registered training organisations Australia wide 

Click here for RTO listing

NECA Training NSW 02 9188 4424
NECA Education & Careers VIC 03 9381 1922
NECA CET Joondalup WA 08 9233 5000
NECA CET Jandakot WA 08 6595 6600