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The house I recently bought has the networking cables to each room (2-4 each) terminate at a junction box on the outside of the house. To hook up my Internet, the tech hooked up to one of the cables to my living room, where I hooked it into my router. However, that leaves several ports in my home useless because there is nothing connected to them on the outside to give them any sort of internet access.

I'd like to have 4 Ethernet outlets per room to have all my devices wired and set up a couple APs for the devices that can't be wired. Basically I've considered doing the following.

  1. Find the internet-connected cable in my attic, disconnect and pull it from its outlet and hook up to my router->network switch. Then, run new cables to each room from that network switch. (This is overly simplified).

  2. Run a cable for each wireless AP to the wall/ceiling locations I want them.

I'm not sure if this is the best way to do this. I'm not sure what to do with all the cables in the junction box (and through the brick and mortar, btw). Should I pull them all, leaving just the network connected line? I'd like a good home network, but it seems there will be a lot of extra work due to poor initial network wiring. I don't want to use powerline adapters either.

Some notes:

  1. It's an FTTP/H connection, set up so I don't need a separate modem.

  2. The current wiring is as follows: Fiber->ONT->(over ethernet)Junction Box->Through Outside Wall->Living Room->Router. I think I'd prefer the following: Through Outside Wall->Router->Switch->Room Outlets/APs.

Current setup: current setup

Proposed setup: proposed setup

Any help (including things to keep in mind and look out for) is greatly appreciated!

Edit: Whatever setup I decide, I don't plan to leave it in the attic. The conditions are too variable and, I think, not good for networking equipment.

  • Isn't this just a case of buying some Ethernet multiport boxes and connecting those via the existing ports on the exterior box? – Carl Witthoft Oct 4 at 17:58
  • There are no "ports" on the exterior box. They are all just loose Ethernet cables inside the box connecting to each of the rooms in the house, plus the single network connected Ethernet cable. – Michael Oct 4 at 18:23
  • Can you be more specific about what's on the interior side of the wall where the cables are, as well as how the cables arrive at that exterior box? You mentioned elsewhere that the cables all route through the attic, so the schematic in your post isn't quite accurate in terms of actual cable routing. – Peter Duniho Oct 5 at 3:25
  • are you certain that the cables on the outside of the house are for ethernet? ... they could be telephone lines – jsotola Oct 5 at 4:03
  • @jsotola The box has several Ethernet lines. I watched the guy who came to setup our internet. He used one Ethernet line for our network and one for our VoIP phone (using fewer of the cable's wires). There are also several coax cables there too, but we don't require any of them for our internet. – Michael Oct 7 at 14:22
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Stated another way, your options are to make the best use possible of the cable that's already installed or install new cable that suits your need better.

Ethernet outdoors

There exist environmentally hardened Ethernet switches designed for outdoor use, but you won't find them on the shelf at the local big box electronics store and they'll cost more than consumer/SOHO indoor-rated gear. Then again, indoor-rated gear might perform acceptably for you even outdoors. So there's one option: install an Ethernet switch near enough to all those cables outdoors so that they can be patched into the switch. You'd have to get power to it from somewhere and it would require some kind of protection from water.

Turn cables indoors

Think about what's on the interior side of the wall from that outdoor junction box. Would it be acceptable to place a patch panel near that location? You could cut an opening in the interior wall, pull all the cables from the junction box into a new box inside, and repair the wall.

Modify, abandon, or replace

If all else fails you'll have to install some new cable. Some of the existing cable might run through accessible areas like the attic. Any existing cable you can find and re-route to the new patch panel location saves work in fishing new wire through walls. Consider whether it's useful to have more than one patch (and switch) location to so that everything doesn't have to home-run to a single place.

Don't go to great pains to rip out wire you're not using -- if it isn't hurting anything, just leave it in place. Maybe you or a future owner will think of something to use it for later.

Retrofitting cable is something of an art form, but it can be learned. Things to consider as you plan a retrofit are which direction the floor joists go and where there are mechanical chases (ie for duct work) that you might be able to push wire through.

  • "where there are mechanical chases (ie for duct work)" -- to clarify the point in Greg's answer: I assume he's not suggesting running the cable in the duct, but alongside it. But if you get properly rated "plenum" cable, there is a possibility of using existing ducts to provide a conduit for new cable runs. – Peter Duniho Oct 5 at 3:26
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I had a very similar situation in a house, but the difference is that all my ethernet cables from around the house terminated in the attic. That made it a little easier to deal with than yours, but maybe my approach will give you an idea.

Rather than worry about finding a router/switch that would survive in the 130F heat of the attic, I put a patch panel in the attic and ran new wires into a nearby closet. I had about loose cables in the attic, so I punched them all down on to a patch panel and ran patch cables to the closet.

Installed a wiring cabinet in the closet and rack mounted a switch, power supplies and a few PoE injectors in it and this is where all the connections were made from room to room.

So, summary answer - leave existing cables alone and install new cables that run to a more convenient location for all your networking equipment.

  • My cables end outside, but they do run through the attic to reach each room. The attic is accessed from an upstairs closet. Something like this could certainly be a possibility. – Michael Oct 4 at 19:26
  • Thinking through this, this would require running the network connected cable straight to the closet, correct? Then running new cables from the router/switch to the patch panel in the attic which will then go directly to the rooms? ie Live Network Line->router in closet->switch in closet->patch panel in attic->rooms? – Michael Oct 4 at 19:34
  • @Michael, It depends... I had the live network cable run to the patch panel in the closet, then I had two network jacks in my office. I patched the live cable to one jack going to the routers WAN port, then connected one of the routers LAN ports to the other jack and patched that into the switch. Before I set that up, I had the live network cable feed into a powerline adapter downstairs and into the router upstairs. Powerline was fast enough for my internet connection, but I then had full gigabit between the devices on the LAN. Good compromise for a few months. – JPhi1618 Oct 4 at 19:46
  • @Michael: "this would require running the network connected cable straight to the closet" -- "require"? No, but that is one option. Personally, I would prefer to have the patch panel more accessible, even if it is simple and unlikely to require access. Instead, you can extend the network cables from the attic to the closet space (or whatever you choose for the central location), terminating at a patch panel there. ... – Peter Duniho Oct 5 at 3:23
  • ... This will probably involve cutting the cable in the attic to reroute it; make sure you use a proper splice, such as showmecables.com/cat6-110-type-inline-splice (works with bare cable) or elliottelectronicsupply.com/… (requires that you add RJ45 plugs at each end of the splice). – Peter Duniho Oct 5 at 3:24
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This is normal. The builder has run 4 cables to each room, and brought them all out to a junction box. This work is not finished. On purpose. You are expected to finish it according to your preferences, which the builder cannot and should not guess at.

Presumably this involves fitting punchdown blocks to all the cables, (RJ11 or RJ45 depending on phone vs ethernet needs), then installing a switch in the junction box. I gather there isn't mains power in the junction box, but that's what PoE is for.

If the junction box isn't big enough, change the junction box. That is much easier than running new wires in the walls.

Equipment can work fine outdoors if the box is reasonably weather resistant. After all, the equipment will be powered up and making heat, which will preclude it freezing and prevent any condensation. If you're going to power it down for an extended period, remove it.

As far as the box getting hot in the summer sun, you are talking about putting the switch/router in the attic, where heat would be a much bigger problem. It can help greatly to paint the sunward sides of the box a snow white color (91%+ reflectivity) or better, fit some sort of shade sail to keep sun off it entirely.

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