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My high-rise apartment building has gigabit internet service available via copper ethernet at the communication closet on my floor, but it's my responsibility to establish the connection from that closet to my unit. There is a single cat5e cable into my unit from the communication closet. It was intended for telephone service and is daisy-chained between my three phone jacks.

As I understand it, I have a few options with various pros/cons:

1. Wired ethernet to computer, daisy-chained over existing cat5e: Use the existing cat5e connection to my unit and terminate it to a wired gigabit ethernet connection at an existing phone jack.

Pros:

  • Requires no additional wiring to the closet.
  • Low cost.
  • This is what everyone else in the building has done.

Cons:

  • Daisy-chained jacks and questionable quality of existing cat5e wiring may limit speed to 100 Mbps.
  • Intermediate jacks in chain will have to be rewired so all eight wires are connected at the jack I want to use.
  • Traditional landline telephone service won't be possible anymore but VOIP is an option.
  • Two of three existing jacks won't serve any purpose and will be unusable.
  • Poorly located jacks for wired computers. Phone jacks are in poor locations, like high on the wall in the kitchen, which could require me to run wires across the room or along walls (ugly).

2. All-wireless network: Use 802.11ac WiFi and place router at first jack in daisy-chain

Pros:

  • Requires no additional wiring to the closet.
  • Moderate cost. (Will require additional Wi-Fi equipment but will be DYI.)
  • No issues with jack locations.

Cons:

  • Potential wireless interference issues impacting speed. I don't have issues now, but most of the internet seems to agree that wired is better.
  • Would have to buy new 802.11ac router and potentially network cards.
  • Traditional landline telephone service won't be possible anymore but VOIP is an option.
  • Two of three existing jacks won't serve any purpose and will be unusable.

3. Dedicated wired connection: Run a new dedicated cat5e or cat6 connection to the communication closet and install a separate jack solely for internet.

Pros:

  • New wiring, reliable gigabit speed. Potential upgradability to greater speeds in the future if using cat6.
  • Will not impact existing phone lines.
  • I can have the jack exactly where I want it.

Cons:

  • High cost. Building management likely will require a certified electrician to do the work and hundreds of $$ of deposits.
  • High effort. May be difficult due to running cable through existing walls. Will require approvals from building management to run cabling through common areas including a 30-day permitting process.
  • Could require (ugly) exposed conduit

I have reviewed previous questions such as the following, but I'm not sure these are the best approach given my particular constraints as outlined above. I'm looking for the best way to accomplish reliable gigabit ethernet given the constraints of existing wiring and cost.

Previous questions: How can I convert Cat5e wired sockets to Ethernet? How can I modify telephone Cat5 cables and jacks into Ethernet ports?

  • I'm not sure what the real difference is between #1 and #2 other than which jack you use. 802.11ac wireless isn't going to give to gigabit speeds. Whats on the other end of this ethernet that you are connecting to? – JPhi1618 Nov 2 '17 at 18:39
  • What's the connection speed from the building to the internet? No point in getting gigabit ethernet if they have a 10Mbps cable connection. – Drew Nov 2 '17 at 19:01
  • Option #1 would use a copper/wired network connection directly to a wired gigabit router and computer with a wired connection so the jack would have to have proximity to the wired network to avoid in-room cable runs. I'd also have a (slower) wireless router, but the focus would be gigabit speeds for the wired connection. Option #2 would be using an entirely wireless network. – Cliff Nov 2 '17 at 19:03
  • The connection to the building is fiber gigabit (or at least is being sold as fiber gigabit internet service). On the other end, the communication closet has a copper gigabit switch which is connected to a fiber 10 gigabit connection that services the building. – Cliff Nov 2 '17 at 19:04
  • Regarding 801.11ac wireless not giving gigabit speeds, I agree that most of what I've read states that ac doesn't get advertised speeds. But I'm also skeptical that my daisy-chained cat5e connection might not get more than 100Mbps. And at least some companies claim their ac routers get greater than gigabit speeds, theoretically, such as this one that claims 7.2 Gbps: amazon.com/NETGEAR-Nighthawk-X10-Quad-Stream-R9000-100NAS/dp/… – Cliff Nov 2 '17 at 19:11
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First step is to get an 802.11ac router. You're probably going to want wireless anyway, so just do that now. Live with that until you decide either you are happy with it, or you need to upgrade. And remember: you won't get ac speeds unless both the router and your device are ac.

If you do need upgrade to wired, buy 2-4 small gigabit switches. Terminate all of the wall plates with cat5e rj45 jacks. At the wall plates with 2 jacks, hook up both jacks to a switch. Since you have daisy-chained drops, the switch will bridge the two halves of the chain. Those cost of doing this should be under $100 for switches and wall plate parts. This is a less than ideal network configuration, but since your bottleneck is going to be your internet connection speed, you will likely hit the limits of performance on this network.

  • +1. Just replace the daisy chained jacks with two RJ45 female ports, and then either install a switch (if you want to connect additional devices there) or a patch cable (if not). This also gives you the flexibility to add wired devices at any port. All jacks will be usable. – Andrew Mao Sep 14 '18 at 21:51

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