These days, everything is wireless – phones, media streamers, even my bathroom scales. All these devices are fighting for bandwidth, meaning the more you have, the slower your network can be. Additional complexities such as a large house can add extra frustration to your home wireless network. It’s sometimes just easier to plug your Xbox or Computer direct into a data port to guarantee a level of speed
Over the holidays, I was frustrated with the poor performance of my wireless network and was investigating a wireless mesh network. During this process, I noticed the phone jacks that were in every room were dual size (RJ12 and RJ45) i.e either a telephone or a network cable would fit. After doing some investigation, I found that most houses built in the last 10-15 years have Ethernet cables for their phone lines. This means the infrastructure is there – all we need to do is connect it all up.
What you will need
Most of what you need should already be in your walls (i.e network cable). All I needed to buy was:
- 6P/8P Modular Crimping Tool
- RJ45 Plugs
- A Switch – My switch is in the roof so I utilised a PoE Powered Netgear GS108T as I didn’t have access to a power outlet.
- A PoE Switch (optional) – To provide power to the PoE Powered switch. I utilised a TP-Link TL-SG108PE.
Check if your house is wired for Ethernet
The first step is to check where the phone line jacks are in your house. Check the size of the jack. If you have a spare network cable, plug it in and if it fits then move to the next step.
Remove the plate from the wall and check the cable that connects. If it is a thick cable with 8 smaller wires, you should be good. Have a look on the wire for a printed serial number to confirm the wiring is Ethernet and what category it is. For me, I have Cat5e which means I was able to get a network running at 1Gbps.
Lastly, time to find where all the wires are going to. For me, it was in the roof but others I have seen have theirs in a basement or garage.
Crimping the wires
Before we start messing with the cables, we need to understand what cable goes where. For me, each label and phone jack had been labelled previously so I knew exactly which wires to work with. You may need to trace the cables if yours are not obvious.
The crimping process is pretty easy. First, remove about an inch of the blue sheath from the end of the cable, exposing the 8 wires on the inside.
The colours of the wires are important. Normally the order of the wires will be as follows:
- Orange / White
- Green / White
- Blue / White
- Brown / White
Although this is normally the order, it really depends on how the wire is connected back at the wall plate. If it is in a different order, then the wires won’t match and nothing will work.
Once you have put the colours in order, hold them tight between your thumb and forefinger and carefully chop the ends so they are straight. The wires should extend about 1/2 inch out of the blue sheath. Push this wires into the RJ45 plug as far as they can go (be careful to ensure the wires stay in order).
Once the wires are in tight, use your crimping tool to fix the plug onto the end of the wire.
Finished! Repeat this process for as many data ports that you want.
Adding a switch
In order for all these new data cables to talk to each other, you need to install a switch. For me, my switch was in the roof where I didn’t have easy access to a power point. To get around this, I utilised a switch that was Powered over Ethernet (PoE). This means that both power and data is sent through the Ethernet cable, reducing the number of cables required. If you have a power outlet handy, you can get away with a cheap switch here.
Once it is all connected, it’s time to test. I simply connected an IP camera to one port and systematically went to each new port and tried to access it. You could also use an Ethernet Cable Tester if you wished.
Bye bye telephone ports?
Throughout my house, I had 7 telephone ports. I decided to convert 5 of them to data and keep two for phone lines. You will most likely need at least one phone line for the internet. It is possible to have both data and telephone run through the same ethernet cable, however, you will only get 10/100Mbps speeds. If this is acceptable to you, check out this video tutorial for more information.
Things to look out for
- Continually test the incoming line – If you too are using a Krone Block, then it is good practice to test the phone line after disconnecting a cable. I accidentally disconnected the phone line a couple times but was able to reconnect the wire as I picked it up pretty quick.
- Match the wire order at both ends of the cable – As mentioned before, if the wires don’t line up, then the data won’t be able to pass along the cables.
I was surprised how easy it was to install data in my house and the entire process only took me a couple hours. Let me know how you go in the comments below!