Internetizing My Ethernet-wired Townhouse

Sweet Panels

When I first moved into a new townhouse, one thing I was very excited about was that nearly every room in the house had a panel with not only a cable port and a phone jack, but an RJ-45 jack as well. In other words, it’s wired with Ethernet ports all over the ‘house.

So the first thing I did, naturally, after connecting my cablemodem on the main floor to my wireless router, was make sure my wireless internet was working. It was, but the signal wasn’t so great on the bottom floor, where my desktop is located. In fact it was a bit flaky, giving me a hard time connecting initially and also having random disconnects. Not so great. In order for me to get reliable internet, I’d have to either run my 50-foot ethernet cable from the main floor to the basement, or I could get these ports to work.

Maybe it will just work?

Ever optimistic, I plugged in my desktop into the wall, and then I plugged in an ethernet cable between my wireless router and the wall. Maybe there’s a switch or something somewhere! Maybe it will just work!

Well, it didn’t. My computer was complaining about a network cable being disconnected. I assured my computer that I really did connect an ethernet cable from it to the wall but it still wasn’t happy.

Internets to the rescue

I did a quick search, and I can’t remember what I searched for, but the forum responses mentioned something about opening up the patch panel in the master closet. After removing the panel with the help of my trusty screwdriver, I found this inside:

At first I was a little confused. It looked to me like all these ethernet wires were already connected in that circuit thing. But what were the ports for then? That’s when I realized, these ports are just wired up to the cables, and are not connected to each other in any way. They just happen to be in the same junction box. To connect them, I’d need my own separate switch; ideally the internet connection from the wireless router would be able to connect via the switch to all other clients and give them IP addresses and internet access. That was my theory. So I rounded up my switch and as many cables as I could find and here’s what it looked like:

The Test

Anyway, I went back down to my computer, disabled/enabled my ethernet card, and prayed for mercy (and an IP address). Sure enough, I got Good news! Now for the real test:

It works! Yay! And just in case you were confused, here’s a diagram:

Hope this helps anyone else who found themselves in possession or rental of a home with pre-wired Ethernet ports.

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Seattleite. Climber. Snowboarder. Traveler. Party rocker. Technologist. Spanish enthusiast. Fun-seeker.

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