Help me get an ethernet connection to my apartment.
November 10, 2010 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me get an ethernet connection from the basement of one apartment building to the 3rd floor of another.

I live in an apartment building that's on the fiber ring of the ISP I work for. I've been told that if I can figure out a way to get the signal from A to B, I can plug directly into the ethernet switch in the basement of the other apartment building in the complex and get a 100 meg connection.

I've got 2 problems: One is that the building is wired with Cat 3, and the second problem is that it's probably right up near 300 feet away from the basement, which would probably rule out a straight cable run even if it was cat 5.

Any suggestions for how to make this work? Keep in mind that I work for the ISP, so I have access to all the patch panels, etc, from A to B, but running fiber through the conduit to my floor is probably going to be out of the question.
posted by empath to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(btw, I've already got a dsl connection down to the basement, I'm just trying to bypass the dslam and plug straight into the switch)
posted by empath at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2010

which would probably rule out a straight cable run even if it was cat 5.

Why? I saw some amazing hacks at a university to steal connections, some of which were about 300 feet of cat 5.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2010

How is the power run in the building? Would you be able to make a powerline ethernet adaptor work? You may not get 100 meg, but you might get pretty close.
posted by IanMorr at 11:30 AM on November 10, 2010

The distance probably wouldn't be that much of an issue for cat5e. If you have access to the switch, you could watch to see if there were any errors.
If you don't want to pull a wire/fiber, something like this might be in order. I haven't used that one, but there are similar devices on the market. One of these might fit the bill.

Ok, I just looked at the price. That might be a bit much.
posted by Climber at 11:32 AM on November 10, 2010

Yeah, 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T are supposed to work to up to 100 meters, or 328 feet.

You might be able to use a HomePNA 3.1 (phoenline or coax) or MoCA (coax only) bridge. They're both rated for over 100Mbps. If there's a coax run that you could use, you'd probably get speeds than over Cat 3.

Worst case, just run 10BASE-T over the Cat 3. You'll be limited to 10Mbps, though.
posted by zsazsa at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2010

Will home PNA work over Cat 3, and would it be faster than DSL? Cause that sounds like a possiblity.

I've got 1 up and 15megs down with dsl over cat 3, right now.
posted by empath at 11:38 AM on November 10, 2010

why can't you throw a repeater in if distance is a problem?
posted by randomstriker at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

All the HPNA adapters I see online are coax only, it seems.
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2010

I see a couple of solutions:

1. Run the cat5. 300 feet is within spec and you can break it up in the middle with a router/repeater to double the distance if need be.

2. Use a weatherproof N wifi router to connect to the basement and put it wherever its most convenient outside (right outside the nearest window). Do the same upstairs. You might not even need a directional antenna if its 300 feet straight up into the air.

3. HomePNA might work with that Cat3 line.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2010

Yeah, I really think getting a pair of HPNA 3.1 bridges is the way to go, but for the life of me, I can't find anybody that sells them for phonelines rather than coax.

I do have coax in my apartment, but i don't think it runs down to the basement where the switch is.
posted by empath at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2010

The approach I'd probably take depends on the wiring in the building.

If the cable line in your apartment is "home run" directly to the same room that the Ethernet switch is in (to a big distribution amplifier or something), then I would probably use that, with HomePNA gear. I'm not sure how badly that stuff interferes with TV though, particularly digital TV and cable internet ... so if you don't have a single piece of coax that goes directly from that room to your apartment (if the connection goes to a downstream distribution amplifier in your building, which isn't unlikely), it might not be a good idea. If one of your neighbors has problems down the road, the cableco will probably show up and rip out your gear.

If not that ... I'd probably be looking at something using the existing Cat3 wiring. But that's because I hate pulling cable.

If you have a dry pair going from your apartment directly to the room in question (again without any intermediate stops), even if it's only Cat3 you can probably work something over it.

It's possible (although I've never done it myself) to set up DSL over a dry pair, out to several thousand feet. You have to buy the right kind of modems, though; you need ones designed for point-to-point operation and not the CPE-only ones designed for telco DSL. You need one that will do "CO/CPE". The thing to Google for is "dry pair dsl" or "ethernet vdsl bridge".

Resources: Ignore the prices and equipment recommendations in the first three articles; they're just for general reference.

With something like the VC-234 that's discussed in the AskMe link, you could get up to 99/70Mbps if the total run is 300m or less. They're only $160 each which seems pretty reasonable.

Of course if you don't have a clean Cat3 line ... then you're probably going to be talking about a wireless gateway, which might require drilling or otherwise getting an Ethernet line to the exterior of the building, which I can't imagine would go over well with the building's owner.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2010

ITs expensive but this will allow you to get 75/75 using telephone wires. IF its 100 m from your appartment to the basement of your building.

You should be able to connect the two buildings basements with cate53 (if not done already)

then put one of these at each end and it should give you close to full speed.
posted by majortom1981 at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2010

also there is the 100 base t4 spec that might work. It would require you putting an rj45 head at each end of your cat 3 cable . if the adapter you use supports it you should also get 100/100 out of the cat 3 cable.
posted by majortom1981 at 1:26 PM on November 10, 2010

It looks like this is an HPNA 3.0 phoneline bridge. Not exactly cheap at $138 each, but cheaper than the VDSL bridge above.
posted by zsazsa at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2010

I'm wondering if you don't just try to crimp an rj45 onto the two tighter pairs of the cat3 and see what you get? Maybe you have to put in a repeater (cheap switch) somewhere along the way, but I'll bet cat3 will get you 100bT.

But the better solution is some kind of wireless or fiber for the building to building connection. Differences in ground potential could mess you up. (Or specifically, your equipment.)

Another thing to consider: what kind of pipe does your ISP have to the outside world? Is it more or less than 100Mbit/s? (That's 12.5 MB/s). How much of that are you going to be able to get your hands on? Because you might be wasting a lot of effort just to get not all that much.
posted by gjc at 3:38 PM on November 10, 2010

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