My current setup is I have a single router/modem combo in my living room connected through DSL. Internet is distributed through the house via WiFi.

The upstairs rooms have all been run with Cat5e cable from the cable box and terminated with 6pin connectors. Important to note that even though all the rooms have been run with Cat5e cables, I can only plug the modem/router into one of them to get internet. So something is already wrong.

upstairs connectorback of upstairs connector

Ive recently finished my basement and had the contractors run Cat5e cables from the new rooms to the current box in my utility room.

basement connector

I would like to have each room to have 8 pin (RJ45?) connectors with internet. I would also like to have the router and modem in the utility room (unless convinced otherwise). The utility room is pretty centrally located in my house.

I am also hoping to be able to identify and name some of the things in the cable box to help me better understand what is happening.


  1. In the first picture, what is the white board(labelled A) called?

  2. How do I trace cables?

  3. Why do I have 7 cables going into the board if I only have 3 outlets upstairs?

  4. Is there a reason other than material availability for why some of the cables are yellow and some are blue?

  5. Can I just swap out the upstairs 6pin connectors with 8pin RJ45 connectors?

  6. How do I hook everything up and distribute internet throughout the house?

cable box unterminated cables 1,2, and 3 are the cables run from the basement. 4 was existing and just tucked behind the cable box.

Thank you. Feel free to point me towards any helpful resources as well.

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    More than point to point the 1 receptacle is wired like a phone terminal at best cat 3 speeds. The wires need to be punched down properly on the receptacle and the block is that a 66 block ? Or 110 I can’t tell but a proper punch down tool will be needed to connect to the trunk line's or multi pair back to the hub or router. – Ed Beal Mar 17 '20 at 21:13
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    structuredhomewiring.com – Kevin McKenzie Mar 18 '20 at 11:42
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    A yellow housing used to indicate a cross-over cable which was wired differently from "regular" CATx cabling and was used to connect a switch/hub/router to switch/hub/router. Most switch/router devices (not much sense in buying a hub anymore) now all have auto-sense on every port meaning that crossover cables are no longer needed. – FreeMan Mar 18 '20 at 14:19
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    @FreeMan Given that the cables end in punch down connections instead of plugs, I don't think there is any indication of cross-over applicable here ... – Hagen von Eitzen Mar 18 '20 at 16:13
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    these just are not "ethernet" plugs !! – Fattie Mar 18 '20 at 17:24

Ho Le Crap! most of the pics you are showing involved phone service, not in house Ethernet / LAN. Your 6 pin connectors are for RJ16 jacks/plugs (3 line phone service). RJ45 requires 8 conductors and an 8 pin jack/plug. cat5e or cat6 can be terminated on a patch panel, but not a punch down block ("A" in your pics).

It can be pretty simple: Connect all the cat5e cables to a patch panel and then choose which ones go to a router/switch. Alternatively, you could simply not use a patch panel and just install plugs on the ends of the cat5e cables and plug them into a router or switch.

Bottom line: You need to separate your Internet (coming over POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service) from your Ethernet connections.

  • Phone and cable TV+ – JACK Mar 17 '20 at 21:57
  • install plugs on the ends of the cat5e cables and plug them into a router [for security, do not use a] switch. – Mazura Mar 18 '20 at 0:33
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    @Mazura realistically the modem is a modem/router combo. You have to go out of your way and buy your own modem-only devices nowadays. OP can confirm, but I haven't seen a modem-only ISP for a while. Almost nobody would ask for it, and those that do will have their own instead of using the ISP's. The switch will work great turning a 4 port router to 4+X router. Switches are also much harder to configure wrong, and plugging a router into another router can cause headaches with port forwarding and other NAT shenanigans. – Nelson Mar 18 '20 at 15:20
  • @chepner: That's been wrong since about 1999. Your network card and router may be able to negotiate back to the older standard, though, but you lose literally 90% of your bandwidth (not 50%). – MSalters Mar 18 '20 at 20:28
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    100-MBit Ethernet only requires two pairs (four wires), so in theory, you could run it in parallel with phone service on a three-pair connector. In practice, 100-MBit requires far better termination than is shown in the pictures, and you'd be lucky to get 10-MBit at the fastest. – Mark Mar 18 '20 at 21:14

Answering your questions in order to the best of my ability:

  1. Your cabling is currently connected to a telephone style punch-down block. For standard computer networking, I would purchase a RJ45 patch panel instead, and connect each cable to its own patch panel jack. I will defer to other commenters on how to best avoid interfering with telephone service while doing so. You then would use short cables to attach your router and modem directly to the panel. It'll make replacing routers, etc quick and easy in the future, although you may have to order additional hardware (such as a network switch) in order to have enough ports for all your rooms. This other StackExchange post has some other people's example home network installations which show patch panels in use.

  2. I will defer to this other Stack Exchange post which recommends connecting the wires at the room end and then testing from the utility end with an ohmmeter or multimeter. This is a good method for identifying loose wires like yours. Be aware that you'll need to disconnect them at the punch-down block end or they'll always read as connected.

  3. One of those cables is probably the service line from the telephone company, but that leaves 3 still unaccounted for that I can't identify.

  4. My experience is with server wiring, not home wiring. Normally CAT5 cable sheathing is cosmetic only, but I'm not familiar with cables rated for in-wall installation. The printing on each cable may give you more information.

  5. 6-pin RJ11 outlets are no good for Ethernet - those are telephone or DSL connections only! Fortunately, it looks like they used Cat-5 cable, and the extra wire pairs seem to be coiled up behind the outlet in your picture, so you can probably install a 8-pin RJ45 outlet instead without any issues. The outlet should be labeled to show you which wire colors go where.

To summarize:

  • You need to put Ethernet connectors on the ends of the cables in the utility box - preferably outlets or jacks in a patch panel for convenience. You may need to purchase some tools, such as a punch-down tool or crimper.
  • Trace the wiring before doing so so you don't accidentally disconnect your telephone service. Label the cables permanently so you don't have to do it twice!
  • You need to connect each cable to your router, via an Ethernet switch if needed to provide more ports.
  • You need to replace 6-pin RJ11 outlets with 8-pin RJ45 outlets as appropriate, then run cable from there to your computers, game consoles, etc.
  • 1
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, props for taking our tour before posting; few newbies do. – Daniel Griscom Mar 18 '20 at 17:27
  • @Khrrck, great job. For #2, there are special tools for this, using an DVOM for example is just not sensible. While I'm not advocating this tool over any others, this is the way to go 100%: amazon.com/gp/product/B00M2DDO0Q/… – noybman Mar 21 '20 at 15:55
  • For #3, the OP will have to take a better inventory of the "things in the rooms" depending on various remodels, this can be other telephone jacks, cameras, wires without endpoints. And on #6 you brought up a good point, NOT ALL WALL JACKS or PLUGS even when they are RJ45, are rated for CAT5E or CAT6. At this point, the OP might as well be considering CAT6, cost wise, there's no reason not to. – noybman Mar 21 '20 at 16:02
  • @nobyman - I considered suggesting a tone and trace tool but they probably don't already own one, and they'd have to re-terminate the cables before using it - while a DVOM is not ideal many homeowners have one. Agreed on the wall jacks but they don't seem to be planning a cable replacement at this time, and 1G 5E or 100M 5 is more than most residential Internet connections in the US still. – Khrrck Mar 22 '20 at 23:06

Even though the cable is good enough for Ethernet transport, you need to change the topology.

Basically, your PC, routers, etc... all expect to be connected point to point. PC at one end, router at the other end, for example.

Right now, you have all the endpoints connected together.

Buy a network switch or hub, install it where all the wires connect. For each wire, install an Ethernet Jack at both ends. Plug one end on the switch, the other in your device. Lather rinse repeat for each wire.

  • "Buy a network switch or hub" => just a switch. No one has any business installing a hub in 2020. It wouldn't work with GbE either. – Bob Mar 20 '20 at 0:39

In the first picture, what is the white board(labelled A) called?

That's called a 66 block. They're used to patch phone lines together.

How do I trace cables?

Tone generator. You can find these online. You get a generator you hook to one end, and then a "wand" for the other. When hooked up, it makes a EMF "warble" that the wand can find just by being close to the wire. A decent one should give you clips, RJ45 (Ethernet) and RJ11 (phone). If I were you, I would want one that does wire testing as well. You're going to need to know if you missed a pin somewhere.

Why do I have 7 cables going into the board if I only have 3 outlets upstairs?

While each Ethernet cable can supply up to 4 phone lines, most likely you only needed one per run. The other runs may go to boxes that had blanks installed over them

Is there a reason other than material availability for why some of the cables are yellow and some are blue?

Ethernet jack colors can vary. It's possible the colors meant something to the installer. The color has no meaning if you're going to use them as Ethernet.

Can I just swap out the upstairs 6pin connectors with 8pin RJ45 connectors?

Yes. It's the basement that will need more work.

How do I hook everything up and distribute internet throughout the house?

You can use the 66 block, but it's not advisable. Your Ethernet is filled with twisted pairs. If you look at, say, Cat 3, you'll note they aren't twisted at all. Why? Phone lines aren't concerned with something Ethernet is: shielding. Untwisting the wires and peeling back the insulation has reduced the shielding of those wires. Ethernet is more susceptible to interference than phone. The 66 block could work, but your mileage may vary.

The other hack to avoid here is crimping a RJ45 jack on (it's far too easy to mess them up and shorten your cables too much).

While a punch board is the easiest route, you might not need all 7 wires used for Ethernet. If not, you could just end the wires you want with a simple Ethernet keystone. These are much easier to find (punch boards at your local hardware store are almost always overpriced anyways) and they keep the shielding intact. Then you attach a patch cable between your router/switch and the wire keystone. Note that you can use Cat6 on Cat5e wire (they're just slightly more expensive due to more shielding)

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    It should be noted that the pairs being twisted is not the same as shielding. Shielding is a separate(usually grounded) conductor that surrounds the communication conductors, in order to reduce the amount of interference that is able to reach the communication conductors. Twisted pairs are generally used for differential signals, which are used because any interference that reaches the pair actually interferes with each wire in the pair equally, so the interference is effectively cancelled out. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_signaling – Hitek Mar 19 '20 at 20:02
  • @Machavity, lol, what on earth is up with the smile faces stickers on that product link? Does it actually come with the product? That's a really creative approach – noybman Mar 21 '20 at 17:08

I would second most of the existing answers. However, from an ease of use standpoint, getting a pair of MOCA adapters, and plugging one into the coax at the bottom and one at the coax in the room would allow you to distribute internet to one room with very little effort or cost.

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    Assuming the coaxes are all connected to each other and aren't connected to the cable TV network. – user253751 Mar 17 '20 at 23:45
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    The only good use for coax nowdays is as a draw wire to pull in UTP. – Criggie Mar 18 '20 at 7:31
  • I'm writing this from a moca network. I pulled cat6 where I could, but moca 2 is much faster than my ISP anyway. – gbronner Mar 18 '20 at 13:45
  • "but moca 2 is much faster than my ISP anyway" -- I know nothing about home improvement, but one common thing to do with a LAN is to get a SAN (big shared disk drive that protects against data loss by using mirroring or RAID) to serve as your file repository. You then store all your files on the shared disk and lose no important data if a laptop is broken lost or stolen, etc. OR at very least you mount disks from a bigger PC onto home laptops etc. In all these cases you'd want your LAN to be faster the better, even if the ISP connection is much slower. – Swiss Frank Mar 19 '20 at 1:25
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    @SwissFrank - I think you meant "NAS"(Network Attached Storage)? – Hitek Mar 19 '20 at 20:09

As already mentioned, you need to put Ethernet connectors on the ends of the cables coming into the utility box. You'll need a CAT 5 crimper tool with some ethernet plugs to do this. It's kind of a pain to do this as a novice, but you'll get better with experience. Then you will need a switch. It doesn't look like you have many cables, so a 5-port switch might work. They go for about $15 on Amazon.

Here's a picture of what this will look like. I have an 8-port switch, which is the box with the green line running across it. One of the lines going into the switch is connected to the Internet router. The other seven lines are distributed throughout the house. Hopefully your setup will be a lot neater. I have coax, ethernet, and phone coming into that box, and I've sworn for years that I would clean it up. Someday it might actually happen. Probably not.

enter image description here

  • It is much easier and neater to wire the ethernet cables to RJ45 JACKS -- they pop into a grid so you can hide the wires behind the wall. You can buy a set of short patch cables, and connect the jacks to the switch, or the firewall, or whatever else you really want to connect to. It is also much easier and faster to wire cat5e to a jack rather than a plug, as you don't have to align every single wire, and the punchdown tool makes good contact. – gbronner Mar 19 '20 at 21:15

Like most home wiring environments cable run identity is non existent. Harbor Freight sells an inexpensive cable toning kit to quickly ID your cables; it is for phone cables but works for Ethernet as well. Once ID'd you can label both ends with numbers or names on masking tape. CAT 5E cable is capable of handling 1gb Ethernet if terminated correctly. There are 2 wiring standards A (older) and B (current) standard. Make sure if you terminate the cables yourself you use the same wiring standards on both ends. Pull your identified cables off the 66 block (labeled a in your picture) as it does not support Ethernet communication. You can terminate using an RJ45 male or female; both require an additional tool to properly terminate and you might well purchase both tools. RJ45 males use a crimper to compress the RJ 45 over the cable pairs (called terminating). The color sequence for B standard is: orange/white, orange, green/white, blue, blue/white, green, brown/white, brown inserted from left to right with the locking mechanism pointing down. RJ 45 females use an impact tool with an RJ blade on the end to terminate the pairs in the cable. The female RJ45’s normally have a color guide with both A and B wiring too show you the proper order to terminate the pairs in the cable. Important note: If you are color blind or cannot deferentiate the cable pair colors get someone else to terminate the cable for you. There is nothing more frustrating than terminating a cable wrong and it not work. Harbor freight, Lowe's, Home Depot, or Amazon/newegg.com has RJ45 crimps (males), crimpers (tools), RJ45 females, and impact tools for terminating female RJ45 ends. They also have wire testing kits to make sure you terminated the cables correctly. Oh btw the Levetron face plates you showed are available with open let's to insert RJ45 females and/or coax cables. Good luck or hire a professional to get it done.

  • Welcome George to StackExchange. Your input is difficult to consume as written but you have some great points. Please try updating the answer in the form of answering the OP (original posters) six sub quesitons, and add your experience to it. Thank you for your insight. – noybman Mar 21 '20 at 16:29

I agree with everything George Pearson said, except for toning you can just hook a switch up where all the wires are joined in the basement connect all the cat5e wires to rj45 ends and plug into the switch, and connect a computer or other hard wired device to each port that you know exists 1 by 1 and the switch will light up telling you which Port on switch equals that port in that Room of your house. That becomes a cheap toner that works perfectly.

  • Also it would be easier if you either move the all in one modem/wifi to the basement, or if there is a cat5e wire running to near your current modem/wireless location you can send data down that line to the basement to uplink into the switch. If you have a modem and separate router/wifi the data sent to the basement switch would come from the router. – Dominic Mar 19 '20 at 10:52
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    Keep in mind you Technically only have to tone the wires if the connections do not work. In that case I would also get a cheap twisted pair tester to make sure you haven't shorted or crossed any wires. Also consider a wireless mesh system if you have a large house or a home with difficult wifi. I prefer ubiquiti unifi products but they can be a pain to first setup. Ubiquiti Amplifi or other consumer friendly options are a good fit for most like orbi, samsung or google mesh. And if you get ones with secondary ports they can become like hardwire connections as well. – Dominic Mar 19 '20 at 11:03

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