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I'm trying to get wired network to my living room since wireless isn't ideal for streaming high quality video. My first instinct was to replace the existing phone jack, since I don't have landline phone service. I figured I could use the phone cable to fish the network cable up to the attic, but it seems to be held in place. I've tried pulling from both ends, but it won't budge. The living room ceiling is vaulted, so there's no attic access directly above the jack.

Here's a picture of my living room with the existing jack circled in blue and the route I assume the phone cable takes in red: Living room with phone cable route

And here's a picture of where the other end of the cable enters the attic: Living room phone cable attic end

This is a two-story house built on a slab, so there is no basement or crawl space.

Does anyone have any idea how (or if) I can make this work? I would prefer to put as few holes in the living room walls as possible, but I can cut some holes if that would be the best way.

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    Did you test to see if the phone cable is stapled inside the wall? If you pull on one side, can you get the other side to move? I've gotten lucky before and found datacom cable with no internal staples so I could use the old cable to pull the new one. – JPhi1618 Nov 25 '15 at 14:42
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Go fishing

If you're a really lucky person, you might be able to use a fish tape to follow the path of the phone cable. However, this means running the fish tape through the wall or ceiling, and hitting a small hole in the framing. Without being able to see what you're doing, you'll just be poking around in the dark, trying to hit a hole of unknown size.

Fish Tape

If you want to attempt this, the procedure is as follows:

  1. Run the fish tape up the wall, or down the ceiling cavity.
  2. Poke around until it slides into the hole through the top plate.
  3. continue to feed the fish tape, until it pops out the other end.
  4. Attach the new cable to the end of the fish tape.
  5. Pull the fish tape back out the way it went in.

Open access

The "easier" option, is to cut one or two small access holes. This will allow you to drill new hole(s) through the framing members, and let you see what you're doing while running the cable.

While running the cable, you're going to encounter at least one framing member. Right at the top of the wall, there will be a top plate. Which will consist of either a single, or doubled up piece of lumber laying flat across the top of the wall. In some situations, you might also have fireblocking, or other obstructions within the wall. You'll want to use a stud finder, to try and locate an obstructions along the route.

If you're only dealing with a top plate, you'll want to cut an access hole just below/above the corner of the room.

enter image description here

This hole should be just large enough to fit a flexible drill bit, to allow you to drill through the top plate.

enter image description here

Once you have the hole through the top plate, fishing the cable is easy.

  1. Feed a fish tape up from the lower hole in the wall, to the upper hole.
  2. Feed the fish tape up through the hole in the top plate.
  3. Feed the fish tape through the ceiling, until it comes out where you have access.
  4. Attach the cable to the fish tape.
  5. Retrieve the fish tape and cable.
  6. Patch the hole(s) in the wall/ceiling.
  • If you fish a new wire, then you can change where it comes out. It would be better for it to exit the wall behind your entertainment center so you don't have an exposed network cable. Also when you fish a new data line, tie a pull string to it so you would be able to fish additional wires through the same hole in the future. Leave some extra line at each end of the string and then stable it to the framing so it doesn't get lost inside the wall. – Jason Hutchinson Nov 25 '15 at 15:03
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You can save yourself a lot of grief if you use powerline networking. If you're not familiar with this, see this explanation http://www.cnet.com/how-to/home-networking-part-7-power-line-connections-explained/ These are extremely easy to connect and work very well. I have used both TP-Link and ZyXEL brands and they both have literally been 1) plug into outlets, 2) connect ethernet cables, 3) enjoy.

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Before cabling - you probably already did this, but just in case - plug your computer directly into your router with a patch cord and verify that your streaming performance is really better. With decent wifi it should be fine. It might be much easier to improve your wifi than to run this cable!

I can't imagine running that cable by that route, but stranger things have happened. It was probably done when the house was built, stapled to the studs, and isn't going anywhere.

If it's Cat5 or better cable, you can reterminate it with cat5 hardware and run ethernet over it. If it's Cat3, you can run 10BaseT 10mbit over it, which should be more than adequate - it won't likely be your bottleneck. You'd have to set the speed of the device at one end or the other to 10MB, if it autonegotiates 100baseT it will almost work, which may drive you nuts.

If you have to run cable to that spot, between the slab and the cathedral ceiling you have limited options. You could remove the baseboard and run the cable back there, but it's really easy to crack up the baseboard when you remove it. It may be easier to run the cable to the wall on the other side of your TV, if there's attic above there.

Honestly running this cable in "old work" inside the walls might be a really challenging DIY job. You could consider running a factory made white patch cord along the baseboards instead. If you staple it neatly, it won't look bad. The problem will be where you have to go through walls. In those spots, a "duckbill"

duckbill

on an old work bracket

low voltage mounting bracket

on either side of the wall will let you go through without it looking awful.

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I seriously do not recommend trying to run a cable in this manner. I used to run low-voltage cabling for a living. You will never be able to hit the mark with the fish tape at the top of the wall where the existing hole is and you definitely aren't going to be able to turn the corner and make it to the attic. You might be able to get it up the wall, but typically you will get all twisted up in the insulation. You should either 1) run new jack on an inside wall which has attic access or 2) staple the wiring outside underneath the eaves, drop down at the jack and go all the way through the wall.

The reason you can't pull the wire out is because it is stapled to the studs and was put in before the sheetrock and insulation was installed. No sane installer would have even attempted to put that jack in after the fact.

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Just to give you some additional options - wireless should be good enough to stream 4k video. I have a 4k tv in my living room and I have no problems streaming 4k content from netflix to it. You need about a 25mb connection to stream 4k video. A good wireless G router with a clear signal to your tv should definitely be able to handle HD video, and maybe even 4k.

If you are not streaming content from netflix/amazon/hulu etc but playing media that's hosted locally on your own network, then the bandwidth requirements might be different depending on how the media is encoded.

But if your tv or media device supports wireless N, you should go with that as it has faster speeds and as long as you have a clear signal, you should have no problems streaming HD or 4k content.

If you have a large home or some interference between your router and tv/media device, you can always get a 2nd router and set it up in bride or repeater mode where it will act to extend your wireless network. You'll just need to put it somewhere halfway between your existing router and your tv.

That being said - i just got down a few weeks ago running ethernet cables into all the rooms in my house :) But that was only because we were replacing all the electrical in the house and I figured why not. But everything was on wireless up until a couple of weeks ago and streaming worked fine. So if you are still having problems running the cable, you might want to consider just beefing up your wireless network.

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This Ethernet Extender Kit converts Ethernet to run over two un-twisted wires (2 wires, not pairs).

If your phone line has 4 wires you can go ahead and put an Ethernet patch jack on each end of the phone wire with no problems.. Not ideal, but it will work for 10/100 not for gig. I wouldn't wire a whole house with 4 wire untwisted, but it will work fine.

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I'll post this answer for the benefit of others -- I realize this question was answered years ago. Things have changed.

TL;DR - Consider a premium, upgraded WiFi mesh as a solution. But a fallback option is Powerline Ethernet.

I used the powerline approach before - it works great. In my office, I used to get frequent network dropouts (wifi was 10 meters and 3 walls away). In my case, I my office needed BOTH working wifi, AND available Ethernet ports (I build Raspberry Pi and other systems). If I was building a system and it's internal WiFi was weak, I'd have to run a 10 meter cable to the living room.

With powerline, I could install a second wifi in the office, connect the powerline adapter to the router's WAN port, and configure the 2nd router to have the SAME SSID and key as my primary, distant router. You can now float between routers (important: this is NOT "mesh networking" but has some of the same benefit).

I recently replaced the powerline approach with an "Amplifi" wifi router with 2 plug in extenders. I get awesome wifi everywhere, including the back yard and the garage (and the driveway if my garage door is open). These routers have an extra radio so the access points can talk to the main router, without competing for bandwidth. Instead of the kit I got, you can get 2 of the main routers and they'll bridge to each other over their backchannel radio or wired ethernet (so if you actually ran cable between the two routers, the the mesh networking is even faster). There other mesh router systems you can choose from (Google makes one), check Amazon. These systems are $250+ but if you want to mesh and you want to curve signals around walls (the extenders) this is the way to go. Unless you wire every room for Ethernet (better, but what's your time worth?)

While today the AmpliFi solved my particular problem, if tomorrow I moved and the new property had a standalone auxiliary building (in-law home, garage, etc) then extending wifi by repeaters is a bad option. A quick fix would be Powerline Ethernet. The best option would be running outdoor Ethernet. There's no one right answer for everything, even today.

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