I recently moved into a home built in 2000, which appears to be pre-wired for Ethernet in some rooms. I would like to use this existing ethernet wiring but I am really not sure how to approach this network cabinet in the basement. Network cabinet

The grey cables coming into this "patch panel" (which really seems more like it splices cables because there are no network jacks on it) are all labeled Cat5. The cables coming out are labeled as if they go to every room, but some rooms I can't find the other end of the cable. The rooms that do have them have RJ45-ended cables coming out of the wall. One of the cables is labeled "telco". I would suspect these are phone lines except they have RJ45 on the end. It's hard to follow but it looks almost as if each line is spliced together. It almost seems as if someone had DSL and you were only supposed to connect the modem in one room and all the rest of them would be dead?

The white cables, also Cat5, are all cut and terminate in this box. These are definitely phone lines. I can find the other ends of these cables in each room, terminating in an RJ11 jack. I was thinking I might just replace the RJ11 jack with RJ45 and have 100Mbps ethernet in every room by using a network switch here in this box.

The coax cables in this network box are not connected to anything, except two that are plugged into an amplifier as seen below. I stuck my cable modem in my living room and I do have internet, so something is working properly, but I don't know how it works with the setup down here.

I'm not sure how to approach this. How can I get Ethernet in my home?

  • Call your service provider. He will not recommend using the old wiring as who knows what type of equipment was connected to.
    – r13
    Sep 10, 2021 at 23:23
  • Yep, it's a 66 block, and yep, you replace it and be happy they used Cat5. You might or might not get gigabit transport (some Cat5 cables met the Cat5e standard without change, some didn't - the Cat5 standard was essentially retired once Cat5e came out) but you're likely to be able to get 100Mbit omce you undo any "telephone-esque daisy chaining" (and you have enough cables evident that they might not have done that.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 11, 2021 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


Welcome to the awkward time period where they were using CAT5 in houses, but only using it for POTS lines (plain ol' telephone service). You're actually in luck, because this should all be good for Ethernet wiring, but all the connectors will be taken out.

The "patch panel" you have is actually just a punch down block where all the wires are simply spliced together like electrical wire. That's the way telephone wiring works. Everything connected together, sometimes using different pairs if you were fancy enough to have two voice lines or a voice and fax lines.

You will need to get a REAL ethernet patch panel to terminate all those lines (punch down style, or RJ45 connectors on each wire). Then you'll need a switch to connect the lines to.

  • And almost certainly new jacks on the other end of each cable, too. "Old RJ45s" are far more likely to NOT do gigabit than old Cat5 not "e" cable is.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 11, 2021 at 17:20
  • 1
    & be sure to cut back all that 'spare' cable. Ethernet should remain in twisted pairs until as close as you can get to the block. [& get a proper punch-down tool with a sprung cutter, not a crappy plastic one].
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 14, 2021 at 13:58

That looks like a "66" block, replace it with a RJ45* socket block or blocks, and then use patch cords to connect a switch, or terminate the cat cables with Rj45 plugs and the plug them directly into a switch.

enter image description here

(*) not actually RJ45 but everyone calls them that.

  • 1
    Terminating wall cables (solid wiring) with plugs is a common thing among DIY, and a common cause of failures. Terminating them to jacks (whether or not the jacks are in a patch panel, per se) is the correct approach for reliability, and what is done professionally.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 11, 2021 at 17:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.