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As an IT student I have a first chance to plan a basic Internet topology in my own home. We have fiber-optic Internet and a telephone line to our home. We would like to ask for advice about changing the topology of the Internet inside our home.

This is the current state of the network in our two-level house:

Current state

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We are currently renovating the floor, in rooms: Room1, Room2, Corridor A. We want to distribute an Ethernet cable under the floor so that Ethernet sockets are available in individual rooms. Additionally, one telephone socket would be needed to connect our telephone. The picture Desired state shows the desired locations of telephone and telephone sockets in red and yellow.

Desired state

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Could somebody please propose a topology that will work?

Additionally, I have questions about desired state:

  1. What devices would be needed besides a router so that the network layout would be wise?
  2. Where should the router be located on the ground floor?
  3. Should optical fiber go directly to the router / or is it better to connect the optical fiber with the Ethernet cable and then lead it to the router?
  4. Will we need a permanently connected switch?
  5. Would the use of a matrix switcher (one permanently installed in the wall) would affect the durability and comfort of using the installation?
  6. Which categories of ethernet cable would make sense? I was thinking about: 6, 6a, 6e, 7? Which one is suitable?
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  • If I understand correctly, this is your school homework?
    – rtaft
    Jun 24 at 12:11
  • For one, they're called jacks not sockets.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 24 at 12:39
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    @MonkeyZeus he's probably in the UK, given the spelling of other words in his post. Jun 24 at 14:09
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    If you're tearing open floors and walls, seriously consider running cable to additional locations. Wire is cheap, and a year from now when you decide you want to plug in on the shared wall in room1, it's much harder to do when the walls are closed up again. Also run at least 2 cables to each drop you have marked on your diagram - again, wire is cheap.
    – mmathis
    Jun 24 at 20:27
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    I don't even know what the other option for topography is unless you're going to run coax and use BNC connectors.... ("he's probably in the UK" - where they have ring circuits). - You run wires from where you want them to a central location; haven't seen it done any other way in 25y. "Where should the router be located on the ground floor?" is that 'central location' (or not; it's up to you as to where you want a cable management mess).
    – Mazura
    Jun 25 at 2:10

5 Answers 5

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A few different pieces here. No one "right" answer, but I'll make some recommendations:

  • If practical (with new construction it is practical, with renovation it depends on the level of renovation), running conduit may make sense for future-proofing and flexibility, because then you can replace and/or pull new cables as needed for higher speed, different uses, etc. For example, you could run conduit to each location and run a single cable now (Cat 6 for Ethernet, lower quality (to save money) for telephone) and add Ethernet to the phone locations and phone to the Ethernet locations later as needed very easily. If you don't run conduit, I'd seriously consider running two cables to each location to future-proof a bit. That would be twice the cable cost but very little extra time/labor.
  • I found a nice overview of the differences between the current cable types at [https://network-telecom.com/cat-6-vs-cat-6a-vs-cat-6e-vs-cat-7-key-things-need-know/](this site). But basically any will do fine for typical residential and/or small business network use. Each higher level increases cost and also gets a little harder to work with. For pure ordinary phone use (analog or typical small phone systems, but not VOIP), you could use CAT 3 without a problem and save some money. But if you are not putting in conduit then I'd use the same type (e.g., CAT 6) for everything, that way you have more flexibility in the future without having to run new cables to the "phone" locations.
  • Twisted pair Ethernet is normally a star topology - every location gets a home run back to a central location with a switch. In a large building you may have multiple switches in different locations, but in a typical house you pick one spot. And that spot is typically also where your internet provider (fiber or coax) puts their equipment, and where your main router is located. That main router may also include a 4-port switch, but you can daisy-chain additional switches to it for more ports.
  • Traditional phone wiring (analog POTS) is "smash everything together and it works". Which is why sometimes you'll find daisy-chained phone wiring (central location to room 1 to room 2 to room 3) because it saves on wire. However, I would highly recommend wiring the phone connections, even if they are using CAT 3 cable instead of CAT 6 cable, to the same central location and tie them together there.
  • People often confuse "router location" with "what is best for WiFi". The big communication companies have piggybacked on that misconception to push that they each have the fastest WiFi. Except they're not in the WiFi business, they're in the wired (fiber or coax) internet connection business and the router they throw in (and often make you rent!) is pretty much irrelevant. So put the router where it makes logical sense - in the same central location as the wiring and together with the incoming internet connection. If that provides a good WiFi signal where you need it, great. If not, you can add a WiFi hot-spot (or more than one) wired back to the central location.
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    Conduit, terminated into a load center with its guts removed, so that it has a door.
    – Mazura
    Jun 25 at 2:10
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Ethernet uses a star topology, so you need a switch.

Most router/modems from internet providers provide something like a 4-port switch. Many of them are garbage (ie, not gigabit, or gigabit but slow) and they stop working when the modem has a bad day.

When that happens, if you have a separate switch, you only lose internet, but the LAN still works. If you don't have a separate switch, then the LAN stops working completely.

So basically, you need a switch. There are some good cheap ones that don't use much power. Since it will be on permanently, considering its power use is important for your electricity bill. Some switches shut down unused ports to save power.

Next, you need a NAS. It should be low-power, with gigabit ethernet and RAID. It can be a linux PC or a stand-alone NAS box, although many of these boxes are slow. It must be placed in a location where it won't be stolen. Not in the basement if you live in a flood-prone area. If you don't have a NAS, then you're probably not doing backups, which means you have no data. It should be backed up manually to a SSD stored in the garden shed, and automatically to cloud storage.

Next, use conduit. Plastic conduit is very cheap. Use the bigger ones that can fit two or three Cat6 cables. That way, when you get a TV that needs Ethernet, and a game console that needs Ethernet, or an AV receiver that needs ethernet, or a living room PC that needs ethernet, you don't end up with yet another switch below the TV, just pull another cable through the conduit.

Likewise, if you do some development you may end up with two computers in your home office. It's nice to pull another cable, and not have yet another switch sitting there burning power. And then you get a printer that needs ethernet... you get the idea.

WiFi from ISP routers tend to suck. The most annoying feature is that it turns off when the router has a bad day or loses connection to the ISP. So if you use WiFi a lot for laptops, consider hanging a Netgear on the wall somewhere. That also needs Ethernet.

What devices would be needed besides a router so that the network layout would be wise?

8 port switch and NAS.

Would the use of a matrix switcher (one permanently installed in the wall)

Waste of money, just pull the cables through the conduits and crimp jacks on the ends wherever the switch is.

That's only useful if you want to switch some of the RJ45 sockets between phone and LAN, but everyone has cellphones now, so why do that?

Which categories of ethernet cable would make sense?

The cheapest you can get that will run gigabit, ie Cat5e or better. The cheapest will usually be the one that's being produced in highest quantity, so it is possible you find Cat6 cheaper than Cat5e.

Now, conduit is cheap, so make sure you run some extra. Who knows, you might get some solar panels (the inverter needs ethernet) or IP cameras for security, or...

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    Next, you need a NAS. Not necessarily. Depends on how they use their systems. crimp jacks on the ends NEVER do that. Always wire to jacks and then factory-made patch cables. everyone has cellphones now, so why do that? There are still use cases for regular phones, particularly if multiple people want to be on a call, or transfer calls easily between people. Jun 24 at 19:39
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    I agree with most of what you said, BUT and here's the big BUT...conduit is NOT CHEAP anymore. Have you priced conduit lately? It used to be a no-brainer to use conduit, but now, at HD a 10' stick of 1/2 PVC that used to be about $1 is now almost $10. 2" that used to cost about $10 is now $35. but its very regional and sometimes contractors get discounts at supply houses. It's all over the board. Bear in mind though, PVC conduit has really exploded in pricing. But since this is LV, the OP could use practically anything for conduit/piping and in most places, be code legal. Jun 25 at 0:48
  • Dunno. Around here 20mm flexible plastic conduit is 24€/100m
    – bobflux
    Jun 25 at 8:02
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You want a star topology for Inet, Every jack should be a home run to the switch or router. You should get a low voltage panel (like an electrical panel) to house the gear you need. Since you are only installing 4 RJ45 jacks, a simple router would do connected to the modem. You may not need the router because some modems have up to 4 jacks, still, preparing for the future, you still might want to go with an 8 jack router. Just make sure when configuring that you choose whether the modem or the router does DHCP assignment. If you want WIFI as well, get a router with WIFI capability. Some modems (like Comcast) also already have WIFI built in. You'll need to review the specs of each device to see what you'll need.

Answering your other questions, get the fastest cable you can afford, but IMHO, Cat 6 would be fine for a very long time. That's assuming you want to actually install physical cable. That can be a lot of work in an existing home, depending upon accessibility to crawl spaces, attics, walls, etc. You may want actual cable, but have you thought about all WIFI? It's pretty good these days. There are also WIFI repeaters to extend the range.

I can tell by your spelling that you are not in the US (fibre, sockets, etc). UK?

Anyway if, like many houses in the UK, are brick, WIFI isn't all that good. Hope this helps.

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The most common topology for homes and small offices is Star, specifically Extended Star. With the number of jacks you're looking for, if your router has 4 internal ports you could do a single Star, but without room to upgrade later (would need to reconfigure a bit).

Fiber needs a modem - modem+routers in a single unit are common these days, but if you have a separate modem you can place that wherever you like between the fiber termination and the router. Routers commonly have wifi access points built-in and with your 2-story house, a wifi router centrally located on your ground floor should serve the entire house well. Keep the router away from electrical lines and metal vents if possible, and mount it on the wall/ceiling or high on a shelf if you can. I'm guessing your telephone service will split off your modem, so that may impact placement.

Also, I see that your desired network jack placement in Room 3 is near the same place as the "current state" but it would probably be easier to place if it were on the opposite wall, if that's possible. That would put it on the same wall as the jack in Room 2 below it, and I notice the jacks in Room 4 and Room 1 are fairly well vertically aligned too. This should make it slightly easier to run cables vertically inside walls instead of having to go through ceilings/along walls/etc. If you have an easy way to run cables like existing conduit, unfinished walls/ceilings, you can run wherever you like.

For the questions I haven't addressed:

  1. You only really need a modem, router, or modem+router combo as long as the router has 4 ports, which is common.
  2. The fiber can terminate wherever you need to place the modem.
  3. If router has 4 ports, no switch is necessary. You might consider a 5- or 8-port switch for future expansion, but you might as well buy that later when expansion is necessary because it's not needed now.
  4. I don't think matrix switcher is necessary here, you haven't mentioned anything that would require it
  5. The lowest cabling I'd consider installing today is Cat6a. Real future-proofing calls for conduit runs instead of cable so cable type can be upgraded in a decade or two, but many people still consider that overkill.

enter image description here

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  • We are of the same mind on this, UV for your answer! Jun 24 at 16:01
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When I did mine about 15 years ago I ran CAT 5 (hard to get at the time) I put at least a outlet setup (has at a minimum 2 cat 5 cables, 2 RG6 cables and another for the cable TV on each wall in the room. Yes they are even in the bathroom and come in handy with the phones BC (Before Cell Phones). I started with a 96 jack patch panel which has grown a bit over time. I ran the phones, internet, and a few other things through the cat 5. The RG6 was for video. I started with a rented modem and router from the cable company and use a 4 channel hub. It worked great. I used care during the install and the system checks at a gigabit today. I have a full basement so things were relative easy to do. It appears about every year or so I updated the hardware. Everything is setup as Gigabit today and works very well.

My advice is to design the best system you can possibly foresee then when in doubt add it. Just because you have the wire etc installed you do not have to connect it or use it. POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) works great over ethernet cable, you either get an adaptor or as I did I used a RG45 plug on the end of the phone cord set. Regardless it will eventually become obsolete so be sure you can get at the cables etc if you need to upgrade in the future to ???.

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