8

I’m getting ready to finish my basement (well, hire a contractor to do it). Fiber internet is supposed to be available in my neighborhood soon. I don’t have any fiber in the house though. I figure it will be much easier to run some now than to try to do it after the basement has been finished.

Should I run unterminated fiber or should I run something that is already terminated? I can get a patch cable that is plenty long enough online.

Update: the only fiber cable I'm talking about is the one that goes from outside the house to the utility room in the center of the basement. Everywhere else is already wired for Cat5 or would be via WiFi.

6
  • 2
    it depends on the Fiber cable Internet company. Ask them.
    – knowitall
    Jun 21 at 1:42
  • I was planning on doing that tomorrow. Just curious if folks here had any advice. FWIW, company is Metronet in the USA.
    – mikeazo
    Jun 21 at 1:49
  • 8
    My company brings the fiber in the home to one location of my choice.
    – knowitall
    Jun 21 at 2:00
  • When having Google Fiber installed the tech would only run the fiber line outside to the spot where the line comes in and the modem is installed on that wall inside the house. He said they would not run the line inside the house any further because it could be a fire hazard. Jun 21 at 14:19
  • 4
    @user1723699 just an excuse. Depending on company, they're only paid for a certain amount per job. I once had a Verizon phone install - they'd only install to the phone closet at the end of the hall. But if I ran the cables they'd install whetever I wanted. (which was fine with me) Green often helps too if they are contractors and not employees. Jun 21 at 14:27

7 Answers 7

31

Some days I'm surprised to wake up and realize that I have lived in the same house for more than 30 years. (Other days, I'm just surprised to wake up.)

Regardless, the very first time I thought about wiring my home, I was planning on spending big money for the "good stuff." I was going to pay extra for cat 5 cable!

My advice would be to plan for the march of time and technical progress. Rather than pre-wiring your house for fiber, why not pre-wire your house for post-wiring your house?

Instead of running fiber, or hdmi + cat5e + fiber + ..., go out and get some gray schedule 40 PVC conduit. Big box stores sell it in 10 foot "sticks," same as plumbing pipe. Run that from your basement to various convenient places (the attic, a closet at the other end of the house, whatever makes sense for your situation). That way, you haven't spent a lot of money on a technology that will be out of date in a few years, and you have a great way to run the "next big thing".

Get yourself some mason's line (aka: string) and cut it 2x the length of each run + 1 meter. Put a loop at the half-way point, and tie some 1/2" nipples of the same sized conduit at each end. This way the string can't get pulled through, but there's enough slack to run the half-way loop from one end to the other, fishing whatever cable-du-jour you want to run. Leave them in there forever.

5
  • 4
    What size conduit are you recommending? Conduit gets big and you have to worry about bends, too many bends and you can't push a fish tape through. Make sure you put the pull cords in if you have bends. Good placed conduit can make sense ( one run attic to basement isn't a bad idea it does have to be sealed for fire code though ). Conduit to every room is probably 10x more than fiber to all rooms. Jun 21 at 6:37
  • 1
    That will be up to the @OP. It will depend on what they hope to accomplish, and the shape of their house. For example, I have a split-level with a fairly roomy attic, so I ran a big pipe from basement to attic, then ran some small 1/2 and 3/4 lines down from the attic to various wall boxes. For me, running the lines across the attic didn't require any conduit because I could get up there and walk around. Running a new line down through the wall would have been a pain in the ass, so I solved that problem in advance.
    – aghast
    Jun 23 at 1:56
  • This. It is surprising sometimes how easy it is to forget these things. A few conduits are economical and versatile. Just make sure the pipe is big enough and doesn't have more than two elbows between the access ends.
    – Conrado
    Jun 23 at 20:01
  • Follow-up question: why grey sch40 conduit as opposed to regular sch40 pvc, which is much cheaper?
    – peinal
    13 hours ago
  • @peinal, First because the grey is recognizable as "contains wires, not water" for later tradesmen. Also, and more importantly, because the grey conduit comes with bends that are designed to be fished, so the bend radius is longer and easier - for example, 1-1/2" PVC NMC has a bend radius of about 9 inches, while PVC DWV long sweep has a bend radius about 3 inches.
    – aghast
    5 hours ago
23

Typically the company (cable or telecom) will run the fiber to one location and provide an Ethernet connection at that location. Sometimes a little more complex - e.g., Verizon will typically install a box outside (fiber in, coax and/or Ethernet out) and another box inside in one specific location and handle all the cabling in between. So you normally do not actually use fiber inside to connect your devices and do not need to worry about providing fiber of your own.

However, there is some benefit when finishing a basement to providing network connections in some form. You can run Cat 5e (minimum) or Cat 6 or other cable from each potential network port location to a central location. Or you can run conduit and pull whatever cable you want later. The advantage of conduit is that if you install copper now and want to upgrade to higher quality copper or fiber later, you can do it very easily. The rules in general for low-voltage cable (ethernet, coax, etc.) are much simpler than for 120V electrical wiring. In fact, hardly any rules at all. One key though is that, with the exception of totally non-metallic fiber, you can't install your network cables in the same conduit or junction boxes as 120V electrical wiring.

2
  • 7
    Another rule (in most jurisdictions) is you cannot just let the low-voltage cabling lay directly on the tiles of a dropped ceiling (more often seen in commercial buildings, but also residential basements like this often use them); you must do something so the cables hang above the tiles. Also, a good rule of thumb (but not a code requirement) is the "rule of 6": whenever you run network wiring along side power wiring for a distance of at least 6 feet, space it at least 6 inches away. Finally, it's 2022 now, and I wouldn't run any NEW Cat5e anymore. Jun 21 at 16:31
  • 2
    I just had fiber installed a few months ago. They did exactly this - brought it to the demarc point outside, then another fiber run through my crawl space to the room I requested and put a jack in the wall. Then fiber to the ONT and CAT6 from the ONT to the router. Likely will be the same for the OP.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 22 at 0:16
7

I agree with manassehkatz that generally the internet is going to come into your house and it be will be on an exterior wall. It will be terminated there and the isp will provide a router/modem that will then distribute the internet via ethernet.

The typical thing done in a rough in would be to run cat6 from the location where the router modem is going to be to any other location in the house that you might want to have a hardwired connection.

Depending on the size of the house, you'd want to run it to several central locations for wifi access points. Normally you'd put these into the ceiling.

The secondary consideration would then be hard wiring to potential office locations.

The final consideration would be running to other locations. It depends a bit on how much you value a hardwired connection. I ran 3 ethernet cables (2 cat6 + 1 cat5e) to pretty much every room in my house - it isn't much more work to pull 3 at the same time and the cost of the spools isn't bad. I didn't look into the cost of fiber maybe that would be worth doing as well.

If you eventually plan on exterior video cameras, running some ethernet for poe applications when you have things open isn't a bad idea either. Generally you'd locate your nvr in the same area as your router.

The other thing to take into account is that the technology the isp uses from their hub to your house changes. I've seen adsl telephone line be replaced with exterior cat5 to fiber. Each time they'll have to bring this wire into the house for the router so if you choose an interior room to house the router then you should run conduit to that location so they can replace it at next upgrade or if it gets damaged or if you end up switching to a new isp that has a different cable that has to be run.

1
  • 6
    It's also a great idea to still get a network drop near any obvious TV locations. Even if (when!) the TV doesn't use them, your game consoles will still do so much better over a hard-line, and this isn't likely to change any time soon. Jun 21 at 16:34
5

There are many, many different types of fiber optic cabling available. Matching the type required for your current ISP's current setup could be tricky, and would go obsolete if their equipment changes or you change providers. I highly recommend that you do not try to run fiber inside your house. Let the service provider run fiber to your house, then run signals inside your house using something standard like Ethernet or Wifi. The service provider should install some sort of gateway that bridges the fiber network to your house's local network.

If you insist on running fiber, coordinate with the service provider first. You probably don't want to run unterminated fiber because terminating fiber isn't like terminating wire. You can't just crimp on a connector, it requires special tools and processes that your ISP's installers may not have or even know how to use. A fiber with factory installed and tested connectors will give you better signal integrity than a connector installed on-site. There are many different types of fiber connector, so your ISP would have to let you know what type their equipment needs.

1
  • 1
    This. Most Fibre-co won't run their service over lines they don't own. Its all about fault avoidance and liability.
    – Criggie
    Jun 22 at 4:50
4

AT&T runs fiber to the location of your WiFi router. Or to be more precise, your WiFi router will be located at the end of easily run fiber, whether you like that location or not.

When you take utility space and turn it into living space, that means you don't have utility space anymore. That means maintaining utilities will become much more expensive and disruptive.

Your best bet is to provide conduits for future maintenance, and/or access doors to allow access to chases, and especially to washouts. Burying a washout is a good way to turn hundreds into thousands on a plumbing bill.

Normal conduits intended for AC mains electrical have sufficient bending radius to allow fiber. As a bonus, fiber is allowed in the same conduit as AC mains power, because it is non-conductive. No other data cable can do that. Use junction boxes, or "LB" and LL" style conduit bodies for a slightly gentler bend radius.

3

Let me offer a different angle on fiber for your home network.

Fiber sounds good, but the problem is it's a lot more technical to make it work. Ethernet and the attendant equipment is ubiquitous. I can't see any home fiber service not giving you equipment with an Ethernet port to run your network off of.

In order to use fiber, you'll need to pre-plan a central location. Then you'll want a suitable network hub. Your standard WiFi router won't cut it here, because they use Ethernet. You won't be able to buy standard switches either, since most offer only a handful of what are called SFP ports. A pure SFP switch will be more expensive by itself, and you still have to buy SFP adapters on top of that. Finally, you'll have to buy SFP adapters and any associated computer devices to support them for each computer you want on this network.

The good news here is you can run up to 10GBe. The bad news is you'll have spent a lot more to do that, and chances are you don't need a LAN that fast.

Stick with aghast's answer and put in conduit. You can add fiber if/when it becomes feasible. For now, Cat6 is fine for network building.

2
  • I should update my question as this was not very clear. My apologies. I'm only looking for a fiber line that goes from outside the house to inside into the utility room in the center of my basement. That is where it would be plugged into the router. It would then be Cat5e and WiFi to everywhere else.
    – mikeazo
    Jun 23 at 15:29
  • You can run 10GBase-T over Cat6, too, up to about 60m. There really is no need to run fiber at home.
    – SiHa
    Jun 23 at 19:42
0

I went through a variation of what @aghast suggested when I built a new house. I installed the conduit in the walls with the pull string and bringing it all the way from the basement to the second floor. And then I moved in. At that time, 802.11g WiFi was just coming into being and so I bought an access point. It worked very well for the speeds of the time. Fast forward to now where I have a mesh 802.11ax (WiFi 6) network for my Gbit ISP cable network. Individual devices are getting ~600M/second download over WiFi. But I've never used the conduit. And I have zero wires to deal with except where the cable comes into the house.

Newer versions of the wireless standards are constantly coming out. Your fiber will be fast - very fast. But I can't recommend the hard "wire" route in the least. My TVs, phones, computer, and so on are all wireless and I doubt I've ever come close to saturating any of the pipes involved. I'd encourage you to think about the hubs and wires you'll be dealing with.

1
  • Thanks for the info. I was actually only talking about doing fiber to the outside of the house for the main internet trunk. Everything else will be wifi or cat5 (which is already run).
    – mikeazo
    Jun 22 at 23:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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