Author Topic: Home internet wiring  (Read 929 times)

Travis

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Home internet wiring
« on: August 02, 2022, 04:19:18 PM »
Our new house is pre-wired with CAT5 outlets in every room with the CAT5 and coax coming together on a patch panel in the basement. Right now I have internet by connecting the modem to a coax outlet in the living room and my laptop is connected directly to it (router in a couple days).  In the basement it appears that the outside internet line is connected straight to the coax that terminates in the living room. The CAT5 patch panel doesn't appear to be connected to any kind of service line at the moment.

Here's what I'm thinking: If I moved the modem to the basement and connected the outside line directly to it, could I connect the modem to one of the patch panel ports to make all the CAT5 connections hot?

RWD

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2022, 05:17:28 PM »
Hard to know without knowing if that patch panel can act as a switch. You may need a switch as well (your upcoming router probably can act as a switch, but only for ~4 ports). Also, are you sure it's all Cat 5 and not Cat 5e cable? You probably won't be able to get gigabit networking speeds if it's only Cat 5.

Also, termination matters. I assume when you say "CAT5 outlets" you mean RJ45 (for 8P8C). You may need to verify that the pinouts are correct for computer networking (an ethernet cable tester would be very helpful). If the pinouts are wrong it's not hard to correct with new connectors, an RJ45 termination crimp tool, and/or 110 punch down tool (depending on type of keystone).

scottish

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2022, 08:05:48 PM »
That patch panel won't switch.    You're thinking of the days of coaxial ethernet (10Base5?), where you put taps in the coax cable.   Or maybe you're not...  but you can't splice modern ethernet cables together and make everything live.

The good news is a 4 port switch is probably around $15.   At least mine was when I bought it 12 years ago.

aasdfadsf

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2022, 10:26:04 PM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2022, 05:54:54 AM »
A patch panel is only the termination of the ends of the wires, there is no connection between the wires. Plugging your modem into one of those ports will only run data the the other end of that cable.

You will need a switch and run a cable (I recommend something like this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BGV2T5U/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1) from a switch to each socket on the patch panel you with to be hot. Most basic routers act as a switch and come with up to 4 ports.

You also do not need to have data to all wall plates, just the ones you use. My house has 2 data ports in every room, minus the basement, and is pre-wired for security cameras and an exterior AP, but only the ports that are in use are connected to my switch. If all my cable was hot I would need a 48 port switch to run it, in reality I only have 8 active -3 of which are WAPs-. I do have a larger switch so I can quickly bring more things online if I want/need.

lthenderson

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2022, 06:47:22 AM »
To me, this seems like a step backwards to the stone age. Just patch the outside cable into a good quality router and install a mesh wifi system in your house. The only wired connection we have in our entire house is one cable from the router to our desktop computer. Everything else seamlessly connects to the wifi anywhere in our house and for quite a ways around the outside of our house. Even if I was building a new modern house, I wouldn't go to the effort of putting RJ45 ports in every room anymore.

RWD

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2022, 07:24:42 AM »
To me, this seems like a step backwards to the stone age.
Wired networks are still vastly superior to wireless in reliability, latency, and speed. If you have a home NAS or any real local networking need besides accessing the internet going wired is vastly preferable. Also, if you want to set up surveillance cameras or other similar IoT devices a lot of them can run on PoE (Power over Ethernet), eliminating the need to run separate power to those locations. Even if you do want wireless for everything with a mesh wi-fi it's preferable to actually run wired connections to each wireless access point instead of having repeaters (and these can use PoE as well).

Uturn

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2022, 08:46:07 AM »
Bear with me a bit while I talk about some networking concepts and history.

Speed is a combination of latency and bandwidth.  Latency is how long it take to get from here to there.  Bandwidth is capacity.
Let's say you are building a garden in the back yard and have two yards of dirt delivered to your driveway.  You can either use a 5 gallon bucket or a wheelbarrow to move the dirt to the garden.  You walk at the same pace while carrying a bucket or pushing a wheelbarrow.  Your walking pace is latency.  The wheelbarrow holds more than the bucket, that is the bandwidth.  The job will get done faster with the wheelbarrow because there is more capacity per trip.

Now let's look at some network history.  In the early days we used hubs where all the computers plugged into the switch. A packet came in one port and was repeated on all the other ports.  Since only one computer at a time can talk, everyone else had to wait until the line was clear before they could talk.  Bandwidth stayed the same but latency went up due to wait times.  There was also a lot of collisions, which is when more than one computer tried to talk at the same time.  This caused both computers to stop talking and wait a period of time and try again.  More latency.

Then we invented switches.  Switches know what device is on what port.  So if device1 needs to talk to device2, that traffic does not interfere with the conversation between device3 and device4.  Latency goes down because there can now be multiple conversation going on at the same time.  Collisions are close to eliminated.

Then we invented wireless. Now we are back to having a hub. All the devices can hear all the others, but only one can transmit at a time.  So now we start having higher latency due to wait times, collisions, and re-transmits.   But we also have the added interference from nearby wireless networks from your neighbors, hotspots, some TV and streaming device radios, the wifi toaster, etc...

Wireless also has a lot of extra traffic over a switch due to control traffic.  When a wireless device comes on the network, it must join an access point.  Once joined, the device will call out to the access point every few seconds.  Device: Hey access point, are you still there?  Access Point: Yep, still here.  Now multiply that by the number of devices on your network.  If you are near a wireless network that is using the same channel as you, your devices are also competing with devices on that other network for air time.

tl/dr:
Wired will always out perform wireless, regardless of how much bandwidth the wireless is capable of.

GuitarStv

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2022, 09:27:25 AM »
To me, this seems like a step backwards to the stone age.
Wired networks are still vastly superior to wireless in reliability, latency, and speed. If you have a home NAS or any real local networking need besides accessing the internet going wired is vastly preferable. Also, if you want to set up surveillance cameras or other similar IoT devices a lot of them can run on PoE (Power over Ethernet), eliminating the need to run separate power to those locations. Even if you do want wireless for everything with a mesh wi-fi it's preferable to actually run wired connections to each wireless access point instead of having repeaters (and these can use PoE as well).

+1

I've always run cable in any place that I'm living for a long period of time.  It just works better than wireless.

Travis

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2022, 09:49:36 AM »
To me, this seems like a step backwards to the stone age.
Wired networks are still vastly superior to wireless in reliability, latency, and speed. If you have a home NAS or any real local networking need besides accessing the internet going wired is vastly preferable. Also, if you want to set up surveillance cameras or other similar IoT devices a lot of them can run on PoE (Power over Ethernet), eliminating the need to run separate power to those locations. Even if you do want wireless for everything with a mesh wi-fi it's preferable to actually run wired connections to each wireless access point instead of having repeaters (and these can use PoE as well).

+1

I've always run cable in any place that I'm living for a long period of time.  It just works better than wireless.

I have three desktop computers in the house along with a TV device that needs to be cabled.  I believe the desktops can be wireless, but I prefer wired when I have the option. My router will show up tomorrow and I'll move everything to the basement to see if those CAT5 lines are going to work. I'm also going to track down any of my coworkers who live nearby and might have the same setup.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2022, 04:53:19 AM »
Hard to know without knowing if that patch panel can act as a switch. You may need a switch as well (your upcoming router probably can act as a switch, but only for ~4 ports). Also, are you sure it's all Cat 5 and not Cat 5e cable? You probably won't be able to get gigabit networking speeds if it's only Cat 5.

Also, termination matters. I assume when you say "CAT5 outlets" you mean RJ45 (for 8P8C). You may need to verify that the pinouts are correct for computer networking (an ethernet cable tester would be very helpful). If the pinouts are wrong it's not hard to correct with new connectors, an RJ45 termination crimp tool, and/or 110 punch down tool (depending on type of keystone).

Cat8 is going to have faster throughput over shorter distances (70 feet) than Cat6a, which is better than 6, which is better than Cat5e.  Cat8 is about the same as Cat6a over longer distances.  I guess it depends upon how big his house is.

RWD

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2022, 08:05:29 AM »
Hard to know without knowing if that patch panel can act as a switch. You may need a switch as well (your upcoming router probably can act as a switch, but only for ~4 ports). Also, are you sure it's all Cat 5 and not Cat 5e cable? You probably won't be able to get gigabit networking speeds if it's only Cat 5.

Also, termination matters. I assume when you say "CAT5 outlets" you mean RJ45 (for 8P8C). You may need to verify that the pinouts are correct for computer networking (an ethernet cable tester would be very helpful). If the pinouts are wrong it's not hard to correct with new connectors, an RJ45 termination crimp tool, and/or 110 punch down tool (depending on type of keystone).

Cat8 is going to have faster throughput over shorter distances (70 feet) than Cat6a, which is better than 6, which is better than Cat5e.  Cat8 is about the same as Cat6a over longer distances.  I guess it depends upon how big his house is.

I would never recommend Cat 8 for home use. I was under the assumption the OP wasn't planning on pulling new cable and would just use whatever was in place anyway. For higher speeds I personally would want to run OM3/OM4 multi-mode fiber. Our desktop computers and NAS are all connected via SFP+ switch at 10GbE (cabling is OM3 fiber terminated with LC connectors).

JLee

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2022, 08:16:11 AM »
Hard to know without knowing if that patch panel can act as a switch. You may need a switch as well (your upcoming router probably can act as a switch, but only for ~4 ports). Also, are you sure it's all Cat 5 and not Cat 5e cable? You probably won't be able to get gigabit networking speeds if it's only Cat 5.

Also, termination matters. I assume when you say "CAT5 outlets" you mean RJ45 (for 8P8C). You may need to verify that the pinouts are correct for computer networking (an ethernet cable tester would be very helpful). If the pinouts are wrong it's not hard to correct with new connectors, an RJ45 termination crimp tool, and/or 110 punch down tool (depending on type of keystone).

Cat8 is going to have faster throughput over shorter distances (70 feet) than Cat6a, which is better than 6, which is better than Cat5e.  Cat8 is about the same as Cat6a over longer distances.  I guess it depends upon how big his house is.

I would never recommend Cat 8 for home use. I was under the assumption the OP wasn't planning on pulling new cable and would just use whatever was in place anyway. For higher speeds I personally would want to run OM3/OM4 multi-mode fiber. Our desktop computers and NAS are all connected via SFP+ switch at 10GbE (cabling is OM3 fiber terminated with LC connectors).

This is the way.

Most existing Cat5e/6 runs can probably at least do 2.5/5gbps - I'll likely try to do that when 5gbps fiber becomes available here (allegedly next month).  Wifi wins for convenience but nothing can beat the stability and reliability of a wired connection. Unfortunately Unifi doesn't have much in the way of multigig options though. :(

IMO there's no point in anything past 6a, which can already do 10Gbps at 100 meters. If you need more than that you are likely already on fiber.

BlueHouse

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2022, 08:19:10 AM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

I think this can be true in cases of single family homes, but not apartments or even rowhouses.  And with a limit on the number of devices.  I live in a rowhome community and see every other family's routers within 3 blocks.  I also have multiple devices, including a lot of IOT items, light bulbs, speakers, phones, computers, TVs, alarm system, cameras, etc.  And I"m just one person.  I need more than one wired connection just to make my house work smoothly.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2022, 09:57:46 AM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

I think this can be true in cases of single family homes, but not apartments or even rowhouses.  And with a limit on the number of devices.  I live in a rowhome community and see every other family's routers within 3 blocks.  I also have multiple devices, including a lot of IOT items, light bulbs, speakers, phones, computers, TVs, alarm system, cameras, etc.  And I"m just one person.  I need more than one wired connection just to make my house work smoothly.

I second all this.

I'd also add in addition to crowded wifi channels, home construction makes a big difference in wifi. Distances, number of walls, what is in those walls, and other electrical devices all degrade wifi performance. My in laws have a house with thick plaster walls with metal lathe and to get wifi across the house they have to have a mesh network, luckily if they place the nodes next to windows they can get communication otherwise they would need a wired backhaul.

I moved my desktop and laptop dock to hardwired, because even in the same room as the WAP I was having issues.

JLee

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2022, 10:02:11 AM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

I think this can be true in cases of single family homes, but not apartments or even rowhouses.  And with a limit on the number of devices.  I live in a rowhome community and see every other family's routers within 3 blocks.  I also have multiple devices, including a lot of IOT items, light bulbs, speakers, phones, computers, TVs, alarm system, cameras, etc.  And I"m just one person.  I need more than one wired connection just to make my house work smoothly.

I second all this.

I'd also add in addition to crowded wifi channels, home construction makes a big difference in wifi. Distances, number of walls, what is in those walls, and other electrical devices all degrade wifi performance. My in laws have a house with thick plaster walls with metal lathe and to get wifi across the house they have to have a mesh network, luckily if they place the nodes next to windows they can get communication otherwise they would need a wired backhaul.

I moved my desktop and laptop dock to hardwired, because even in the same room as the WAP I was having issues.

I have plaster walls and ceilings on my first floor, and some areas are metal lathe/plaster beneath plywood beneath drywall. I have many access points...

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2022, 11:26:17 AM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

I think this can be true in cases of single family homes, but not apartments or even rowhouses.  And with a limit on the number of devices.  I live in a rowhome community and see every other family's routers within 3 blocks.  I also have multiple devices, including a lot of IOT items, light bulbs, speakers, phones, computers, TVs, alarm system, cameras, etc.  And I"m just one person.  I need more than one wired connection just to make my house work smoothly.

I second all this.

I'd also add in addition to crowded wifi channels, home construction makes a big difference in wifi. Distances, number of walls, what is in those walls, and other electrical devices all degrade wifi performance. My in laws have a house with thick plaster walls with metal lathe and to get wifi across the house they have to have a mesh network, luckily if they place the nodes next to windows they can get communication otherwise they would need a wired backhaul.

I moved my desktop and laptop dock to hardwired, because even in the same room as the WAP I was having issues.

I have plaster walls and ceilings on my first floor, and some areas are metal lathe/plaster beneath plywood beneath drywall. I have many access points...

I only have drywall and I still have one WAP with wired back haul/POE per floor and   and if I add anything computer controlled to the workshop I need to add one there or rely or go hardwire.

grand.know

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2022, 01:27:14 PM »
I guess no one actually looked at the picture and instead rapidly dived into debating loosely relevant things.

You have a Leviton Distribution Panel, 47606-ASO: https://store.leviton.com/products/distribution-panel-47606-aso?variant=18216143555

Datasheet: https://www.leviton.com/en/docs/Application_Note_47609-EMP.pdf

It appears that this was quite the powerful thing for a premise with multiple phone lines...typically a small office.  In fact, ASO from the model number means Advanced Small Office.  The data sheet is pretty interesting for someone like myself with primarily RJ45/8P8C/Ethernet/whatever experience.

The right-hand panel (three columns of black jacks) is for combining various phones lines into combinations to be sent out on given Cat5 cables.  Useless for data.

All those flat grey cables are probably just 4 or 6 wire telephone cables, also useless for data.

If all 8 wires of the Cat5 cables are punched down in to the white strips that parallel the black jacks, and the black jacks have all 8 metal pins present inside, then you would be able to use a patch cable from the black jacks to a network switch.  This would provide data connectivity to the opposite end of the Cat5 cable.  The data sheet only shows the solid color wires punched down so I am skeptical that it would have the white/color (striped) installed.  You can get 100mbps over four wires (two pair), if they are hooked up correctly and you are desperate.

It is certain that this panel does not act as a network switch, itself.

scottish

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2022, 05:43:51 PM »
Huh.   What's in the blue flexible conduit at the right side of the box?

Maybe it's just me, but that box looks more confusing than cables with labels on them.   Everything's really jammed in there.

innkeeper77

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2022, 08:54:44 PM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

Maybe for a single room. For an entire house, interference and blockages make wifi a MUCH worse experience.

I have a wifi 6 card and wifi 6 router. It's OK... Very fast, but not as stable and reliable as I would like. If all I did was consume passive media, this would be fine. For videocalls and games with far away friends, I really want to install ethernet.

lthenderson

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2022, 05:44:44 AM »
Maybe for a single room. For an entire house, interference and blockages make wifi a MUCH worse experience.

Have you tried a mesh wifi system? After switching over to a mesh system, all those problems went away for us and I am left wondering why I didn't switch over a lot sooner.

affordablehousing

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2022, 10:11:34 AM »
Thanks for the interesting discussion. I never understood there was a point to all the wiring things people do. Now I see there's a purpose. Appreciate everyone's intelligence here.

Travis

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2022, 12:29:38 PM »
Huh.   What's in the blue flexible conduit at the right side of the box?

Maybe it's just me, but that box looks more confusing than cables with labels on them.   Everything's really jammed in there.

Fiber. The thin orange cable in the lower right is coming out of it and dangling there. There's a fiber port in the living room if someone wanted to use it in the house.  It is a mess. It's set up to do just about everything. There's the CAT5 and telephone lines running to every room, there's the 8-way coax splitter connected to a signal booster but nothing else, and half a dozen coax lines coming down from the rooms and just dangling.  My router arrived yesterday, but I'll need to stack up some boxes so the modem and router will reach the panel. I'll post the results when I'm done with the experiment.

Travis

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2022, 12:35:29 PM »
I guess no one actually looked at the picture and instead rapidly dived into debating loosely relevant things.

You have a Leviton Distribution Panel, 47606-ASO: https://store.leviton.com/products/distribution-panel-47606-aso?variant=18216143555

Datasheet: https://www.leviton.com/en/docs/Application_Note_47609-EMP.pdf

It appears that this was quite the powerful thing for a premise with multiple phone lines...typically a small office.  In fact, ASO from the model number means Advanced Small Office.  The data sheet is pretty interesting for someone like myself with primarily RJ45/8P8C/Ethernet/whatever experience.

The right-hand panel (three columns of black jacks) is for combining various phones lines into combinations to be sent out on given Cat5 cables.  Useless for data.

All those flat grey cables are probably just 4 or 6 wire telephone cables, also useless for data.

If all 8 wires of the Cat5 cables are punched down in to the white strips that parallel the black jacks, and the black jacks have all 8 metal pins present inside, then you would be able to use a patch cable from the black jacks to a network switch.  This would provide data connectivity to the opposite end of the Cat5 cable.  The data sheet only shows the solid color wires punched down so I am skeptical that it would have the white/color (striped) installed.  You can get 100mbps over four wires (two pair), if they are hooked up correctly and you are desperate.

It is certain that this panel does not act as a network switch, itself.

Thank you for looking this up. I'll see what I can do with it.

Travis

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2022, 07:30:52 PM »
I connected the outside coax to the modem, and the modem to my Wi-Fi router. Got service and a decent signal over Wi-Fi between the basement and the second floor (speed tested 38 out of 300Mbps possible on a cell phone). I pulled the individual lines from the patch panel and plugged them into my router. The living room and all three bedrooms have cabled internet service on the wall outlets that are labeled phone.  What I assume are supposed to be the digital phone lines are punched down as individual copper lines on the patch panel and running to the "data" ports on the walls.

My next challenge is to see if that Wi-Fi signal will be enough to support one of our desktop computers. The bedroom we're going to call an office will have two computers in it. One gets the wired line and the other will have to make due with either the basement Wi-Fi signal or the other desktop broadcasting its own hotspot. I suppose in theory I could rip out those phone lines and re-crimp them one by one until I found the right line, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be doing something like that in this house.  If the desktop also pulls 30Mbps, that will probably be plenty. The only reason we're getting 300 is because they don't offer anything less here.

aasdfadsf

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2022, 01:34:29 AM »
The latest wifi standards are so good that you don't need to care about all that. Just have your modem hooked into the best outside line, a wifi 6 router hooked into your modem, and make sure that all your devices have at least wifi 5 cards or better. Unless you have a very specific need, everything will run as fast and smooth as you want off the wifi.

Maybe for a single room. For an entire house, interference and blockages make wifi a MUCH worse experience.

I have a wifi 6 card and wifi 6 router. It's OK... Very fast, but not as stable and reliable as I would like. If all I did was consume passive media, this would be fine. For videocalls and games with far away friends, I really want to install ethernet.

Fair enough. I personally have found that the wifi in my place is way more than enough and trying to ethernet it would be an overkill, but my place might not be typical. In any case, you want to make sure that you're using the 5 Ghz band and not the older 3 Ghz or whatever it was. This solves the problem of interference for those who have had it. The 5 Ghz doesn't penetrate as far, but unless you're trying to broadcast a long distance, use the 5 Ghz band and you'll be fine. That band isn't gummed up by microwaves and stuff.

Anyway, I defer to those who are experts on this and won't gainsay what they've contributed. I was wrong, so listen to them.

JLee

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Re: Home internet wiring
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2022, 06:24:10 AM »
I connected the outside coax to the modem, and the modem to my Wi-Fi router. Got service and a decent signal over Wi-Fi between the basement and the second floor (speed tested 38 out of 300Mbps possible on a cell phone). I pulled the individual lines from the patch panel and plugged them into my router. The living room and all three bedrooms have cabled internet service on the wall outlets that are labeled phone.  What I assume are supposed to be the digital phone lines are punched down as individual copper lines on the patch panel and running to the "data" ports on the walls.

My next challenge is to see if that Wi-Fi signal will be enough to support one of our desktop computers. The bedroom we're going to call an office will have two computers in it. One gets the wired line and the other will have to make due with either the basement Wi-Fi signal or the other desktop broadcasting its own hotspot. I suppose in theory I could rip out those phone lines and re-crimp them one by one until I found the right line, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be doing something like that in this house.  If the desktop also pulls 30Mbps, that will probably be plenty. The only reason we're getting 300 is because they don't offer anything less here.

Just plug a small switch into the single ethernet line and then connect both desktops to it - something like this would be fine.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!