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I have a ISP ran fiber to my home with a cheap ISP provided modem. I run it to a wifi mesh for wifi and a router for ethernet connections. I want to run a fiber line to my shop and set a router and wifi there as well. I want to do the most simple problem free connection. Can I have my ISP run a separate fiber and modem without a separate monthly service rate? Do I need to change my modem or change my router and run fiber from there? I am a simple solution person so looking for the KISS answer.

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    How far apart are the buildings? Is there any conduit in place for underground lines? Or poles for above ground lines? Nov 23, 2023 at 15:22
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    I will bury it. From closet to shop is probably less than 200ft.
    – Nolownz
    Nov 23, 2023 at 17:17
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    Regular ethernet limit is 100 meters/328 feet. So a 200 foot run plus up/down/around/etc. is likely under 300 feet, so sticking with ordinary ethernet (direct burial or in conduit) may be a lot easier than dealing with fiber. Nov 23, 2023 at 17:50
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    There are also specialty made directional Wi-Fi antennas that are likely easier still, since there is line of sight. Search for point to point wifi, the range can potentially be measured in miles so a few hundred feet will be no issue. arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/08/…
    – Turksarama
    Nov 24, 2023 at 0:58
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    Very few home internet applications need fiber. You can push 5Gb/s through 100 meters of Cat 6 and 10Gb/s for Cat 6a, both of which will be easier to deal with. Even 1Gb/s is usually more than adequate for home applications, including wi-fi uplink, and old-school Cat 5 would support that. More: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethernet_over_twisted_pair#Variants
    – Reid
    Nov 25, 2023 at 2:11

5 Answers 5

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No, the ISP will not run a second fiber line and modem for you, for free. It will cost about as much as it did the first time around.

The protocol on ISP fiber is usually different than on Ethernet fiber, which is why they provide a “modem” (optical network terminal).

If you want to run fiber between the two buildings, you can do it on the LAN side of your router for fairly cheap. The simplest way to do it is with a fiber media converter on either side. In its basic form, this uses electricity to convert a single Ethernet twisted-pair copper connection to fiber, and back. Fancier would be to get a pair of switches with both copper and SFP+ modules for optical interlink, but that’s effectively just combining the two devices into one.

Most common is single-mode with LC connectors on both the fiber and the media converters.

You can get direct-burial fiber, or run it through conduit. Direct-burial can be cheap: you just dig a small trench by hand and shove the fiber into it. Conduit will give you optionality: if you want to replace the fiber, or run a second one, or switch to twisted-pairs, it’s easy to do through conduit, especially if you remember to leave some twine in it as you’re building it (this is only allowed because we’re doing low/no voltage - don’t do this for 120/240VAC, and don’t mix any power wires through a conduit with LV in it). And if you’re going to build conduit, you might as well just run twisted pair in the first place and avoid the need for a media converter.

On the shop side, you can connect a single device to the router in your house, or you can use an Ethernet switch to connect multiple devices over the “backhaul.” Gigabit Ethernet switches can be quite cheap. For a dozen bucks extra you can get one with SFP+ that will support a fiber connection, like I mentioned earlier.

Oh, you don’t need a second router at all in any of these options. A router is only used at the edge of your network, where your modem or ONT is connected to its uplink port. Anything inside your network can talk to the Internet via that router. Home routers are combination devices that often include a firewall, Ethernet switch, NAT, DHCP server, DNS server, possibly also serve as a WiFi access point, and many other possible functions. But you only need one per ISP connection. (Mine even supports two ISP uplink ports, for redundancy! Not that I use it.)

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    Thanks. The media switches look like the way to go. I assume I would put one on an output from my router. Then, at the shop, put a router after the switch that convert back from fiber to ethernet? I will dig into this option more.
    – Nolownz
    Nov 23, 2023 at 17:26
  • I tried to give you an up vote but I am not allowed yet, 😂
    – Nolownz
    Nov 23, 2023 at 17:34
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    You don't need another ethernet switch after the media converter (your terminology was a little off) in the shop if you're only going to have a single device there. If you have multiple devices then a cheap ethernet switch works great.
    – throx
    Nov 24, 2023 at 4:03
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    You also don't need a router on the shop side either. Just a simple switch + access point will do. You can find them with SFP ports to make media conversion easier too
    – 小太郎
    Nov 24, 2023 at 4:16
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    @Nolownz I believe your confusing "router" and "access point". What's colloquially referred to as a router is actually a residential gateway. It's a single device which integrates what would otherwise be several devices. Confusingly one of the components in it is actually a router, which acts as the middle man between your internal network (the LAN) and the rest of the internet (the WAN). Behind that is a switch, which takes that one...
    – Alexander
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:00
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If your goal is simply to have strong, reliable internet in the shop and based that you are willing to run wire, why not keep it simple and install a wired access point in the shop running Cat 6 from your router. The access point can provide wifi in the shop. This would be a lot simpler to manage security and access to this extended LAN. Installing a router in the shop creates another device to be managed. 200' of Cat 6 plus an access point would be <$100.

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    Burying it properly is going to cost a lot more than $100 unless you just happen to own a trencher. Conduit (please, please use conduit) is probably going to cost $100 or more. It's still going to be cheaper than having the ISP do it, and may increase the property value as well. I definitely encourage the OP to do this, but "<$100" is not a realistic cost estimate.
    – Matthew
    Nov 24, 2023 at 6:09
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    I'd suggest going optical over this kind of distance. It'd be safer against lightening strikes. It might even be cheaper, because pre-terminated long optical cables are cheap as heck now. (though the devices on either end might make it cost more overall)
    – Alexander
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:03
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Can I have my ISP run a separate fiber and modem without a separate monthly service rate?

Almost certainly not. A separate fiber and modem implies a separate connection to the ISP. You might get that at a discounted rate, but...

There are legitimate reasons why you might want a separate connection. For most people, however, that approach is absurd. Your question strongly suggests you are in the latter category.

Fortunately, you don't need a separate connection. You just need to extend your local LAN to cover your shop. This is relatively straight-forward.

Do I need to change my modem or change my router and run fiber from there?

No. Your local devices run on a Local Area Network (LAN). Your router is what's responsible for mapping network traffic from your LAN to the Internet. Your modem translates Ethernet to fiber. Switches route local traffic. Most people don't need anything fancy in their LAN and will only need one router; switches are perfectly adequate for connecting additional devices or adding access points. (Note that "access point" is just a term for a wireless switch.) Note that "switch", "router" and "modem" are functions, and a single box may perform more than one function.

You want internet at your shop. The easiest and most cost-effective way to get that is to expand your existing LAN. There are point-to-point wireless transceivers that will let you do so without burying wires, and this may be the cheapest option. However, you need line-of-sight, and maintenance and/or reliability may be problematic. (On the other hand, I believe such systems have improved significantly in recent years. Given the relative non-invasiveness, I would recommend at least looking into this option if it's viable.)

But... let's say you want to bury a connection. The good news is that, once done, the result should be very reliable and nearly zero maintenance. Given the distances involved, you can probably just run Cat6. Fiber may give you better signal quality and/or better bandwidth (and a lot longer range), but the transceivers are expensive, and most people won't see enough benefit to justify the cost. (Frankly, if you don't know you need it, you don't need it.)

...And here's a tip. Don't run wires; run conduit. That way you can run fiber later if you need, or Cat7, or whatever else. (Also, don't forget to run a pull string!)

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Unless digging a couple hundred feet of trench by hand sounds appealing, you'll probably need to rent a trencher. Be sure you know how deep you need to bury the conduit according to local code and know abut other buried utilities before you dig.
  • You want to minimize tight corners in the conduit run. You might want to use semi-rigid pipe instead of fittings. Avoid anything corrugated, though.
  • Bigger conduit is more flexible (easier to pull wires, especially if you need to pull something that has a connector on it, and you can pull more wires if you ever want to do so). If it fits your budget, ¾" or even 1" pipe would be nice. Larger than 1¼" is probably overkill.
  • If you have a basement, consider running one end of the conduit straight into that so it ends indoors and you don't need a sharp bend.
  • At least the shop end of the conduit is probably going to be outdoors unless you do concrete work. If so, you'll probably need a weatherproof pull box to keep rain/dirt/critters out of the conduit.
  • Unterminated bulk wire on a spool is going to be your cheapest option. I'd recommend terminating it with female jacks and using patch cables to connect to your router/switch on the ISP side and switch/laptop on the shop side. Boxes and face plates are optional but will make for a 'more professional' installation. (Female jacks are pretty easy to wire and usually come with the required punch-down tool. Male jacks are a bit more finicky and require a special crimping tool.)
  • Don't forget that combined cable length between powered devices cannot exceed 100m. If your router/switch is far away from the conduit ingress point, adding another switch or just a powered repeater may be helpful.
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set a router and wifi there as well.

Why do you need a router? Do you plan to create a specific subnet in your shop? A subnet that needs to be managed from within the shop?

I would just use a Cat6a (maybe Cat7) between your home switch and a switch in your shop. That would also cover the case of a specific VLAN for the shop (assuming you have VLAN-capable switches).

Since you are looking for simplicity, you could also consider access points that are managed centrally - I use Ubiquity and they are great for that. If you only need WiFi in the shop, you could directly power your AP from the ethernet cable and cut on the switch.

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  • Thank you for the detailed response. I think I will go with cat6a instead of fiber.
    – Nolownz
    Nov 26, 2023 at 17:00
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Question - is the shop powered by a cable from the house?

If yes, you might be able to get away using a pair of powerline adapters, one at each end.

These work by encoding the data as high frequency "noise" on the power cable. The adapter at each end is powered through a wall socket and can see this noise. Other equipment expects 50 or 60 Hz AC and will generally ignore noise in the megahertz ranges.

If you've got medical equipment or a sound recording studio or stuff that could otherwise be sensitive to noise, this may not be a good solution.

Personally I dislike them, but for specific tasks like this they are easy and "good enough"

The modern ones use encryption which is good, because sometimes the signal can go back out toward the street. In the early days, it was sometimes possible to see someone else's unencrypted network from down the road if two nearby installations were on the same phase.

Second point - if the power is run through a conduit, you may be able to "blow" a draw-string in and then pull a fibre through the same pipe. Being optical plastic, fibre cable is immune to shorts and to induced voltages. The main risk is heat - if the plastic fibre gets too hot it will degrade performance by going fuzzy, and potentially melting if the temperature is high enough.

If no, then avoid running copper/UTP cable and stick with your original idea of fibre/fiber.

Reason here is that if your power frequency gets out of alignment between the two ends, its possible to build up a potential difference across the copper ethernet. This results in a low voltage AC on the wire, which can do damage to electronics if the voltage differential grows too high.

There are adapters called "FOTs" or Fibre-Optic Transceivers which have a copper RJ45 port and a fibre port or SFP, and work to translate between the two media.

Or you can get an ethernet switch where a couple of ports are fibre and the rest are copper.

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