I've got ethernet ports in my house and I don't know what to do?
January 30, 2010 2:32 PM   Subscribe

So I have ethernet ports in every room, and I'd like to somehow hook up the internet to them. Any advice?

So today I was messing around and realized that what I thought were phone ports were actually ethernet ports. (maybe both?)

I'd like to figure out a way to feed my internet connection to the wiring in my house, to output the internet from all the ports in my house.

After a few google searches, people have been recommending looking for a hub or centralized port of some sort. I found something that MIGHT be it, in the master bedroom closet, the picture is here. It appears to just be an ethernet cable sticking out of the wall, tied to a bunch of other cables with no ends.

Any advice is much appreciated!
posted by petah to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, I realized the cover on the wall socket said "PH," which indicates that the wiring may in fact be for phone usage, so that may render my question pointless. I'm hoping that the wiring could be used for both?
posted by petah at 2:35 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: Here's a picture of the wall port. So in essence, I just need to go buy some heads on the bare wires and set up a switch?
posted by petah at 2:53 PM on January 30, 2010

If you remove the white plastic piece from the wall port where the cable runs in it will give us more info.

From the first image it does appear that they have been tied together for dual line phone use. The cables held in the four wire nuts are the only four of the eight wires in CAT5 cable needed for this kind of phone setup. If you have two ports in each room you may in fact be able to leave one as a phone jack and use the other for networking. The first trick will be identifying which cable in your closet goes to each jack throughout the house. If they aren't labeled you may need a friend with some networking know-how to help you out here.

For the ports that you would like to use for the network, odinsdream is correct in saying to separate those cables out from the bundle, terminate them with RJ45 connectors and then run them to a switch. You may get away with using a standard consumer wireless router and only plug in the ports which you know you will use as most routers only have 4-port switches. A buddy with networking tools and experience will be needed here.

I'm a little stuck with the single white ethernet plug though. I can't tell where it goes or also where the main phone service line from outside ties in to your bundle of cables. If you use some sleuthing skills and come back with more info we may be able to solve that as well.
posted by metroidhunter at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your image link seems to be broken.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: This is the wire leading from the port.
posted by petah at 3:01 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry, let's try this again. This is the wire leading from the wall port. I'm struggling today, haha.
posted by petah at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2010

odinsdream has you about covered, but just in case you want more of an overview..

You need to get ethernet jacks on all those wires. You could just punch a jack right on to the wire, but the right way to do it is to punch it down on to a patch board. That will turn your big snarl of cable into a nice set of ethernet ports all in one place.

Then you need a switch or hub to connect all those ethernet ports together. You have a million options, I'm partial to Netgear switches. Once you've done that you have a home LAN and all your computers can talk to each other.

Finally, you need a router. Plug that in to one of your ports on your switch, the other end into your modem, and now everyone's got Internet. If you already have a router in your house you can re-use it. If it's a router with a few extra switched ports you might be able to use it in place of a separate switch, too.

I've got an annotated photo of my whole setup that may help you out. Wired Internet in a house is awesome.
posted by Nelson at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2010

Assuming you don't want to invest in a cable tester you could try to check the cables using a battery, a small lightbulb, some alligator clips and a correctly wired ethernet cable with plugs.

Cut the cable, take one end and plug it into one of the sockets, attach some wires to the bulb and battery so you can close a circuit and light up the lamp by touching the clips together. Then attach the clips to the wires leading (according to the wiring schema linked above) to pins 1 and 8, go to the bedroom and twist the cables that should come from pins 1 and 8 temporarily together. If you go back to the wall with the plug and the lamp is lit you'll know the wires are set up correctly. Repeat for the other wires and other outlets.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:38 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

These wires appear to be connected for telephone use - pay attention as you disconnect them to make sure that you're not knocking out your telephone connections.

If there aren't two cables in a room that already has a telephone jack being used, you likely won't be able to have a network jack in that room.
posted by davey_darling at 5:51 PM on January 30, 2010

Adding to what you've already been told. Each blue cable has 4 pairs of wires. In general, ethernet only needs two pairs, so its actually possible to wire two jacks into the cable at each end. Or you can use two pairs for data, and one of the other pairs for your telephone. In other words, you need not choose between having either a telephone jack or a network jack, you can have both without pulling any more cable..
posted by Good Brain at 9:29 PM on January 30, 2010

Good Brain, I had no idea that 10/100 BASET only needed two pairs to run - I retract my earlier statement re: phone and network in the same room.

It's early and I've already learned something today...
posted by davey_darling at 7:52 AM on January 31, 2010

I'm partly wrong about there being extra pairs. 1000-baseT (Gigabit) Ethernet uses all four pairs, the older slower standards only need two pairs.

Huh, odinsdream? I thought the point of twisted pair is that twisting each pair together cancels out interference. Crosstalk between multiple pairs in the same cable is mitigated by using different twist rates in different pairs.
posted by Good Brain at 10:44 PM on February 1, 2010

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