Network Wiring
by Peter Schulz

Abstract: The existing telephone wiring in the townhomes and condos can be used to setup a Local Area Network. But doing so would be difficult and expensive compared to setting up a WI-FI or a Powerline AV network.

The telephone wiring in the townhomes and condos is designed for both voice and data.

Condo Wiring - In the condos separate CAT 5 cables run from behind the Telephone Company Network Test Box in one of the bedroom closets to each of the phone jacks as described below.

Note 1: The purpose of the Telephone Company Network Test Box is to permit the testing of each of the four twisted pair lines in the cable coming in from outdoors. Thus there are 4 test connectors on the bottom of the Telephone Company Network Test Box.

In addition, the Telephone Company Network Test Box is the place where one of the four incoming twisted pair lines is connected to a matching pair on each of the separate CAT 5 cables to distribute telephone service to each of the phone jacks.

Note 2:
To see the separate CAT 5 cables you need to first remove the 4 screws that secure the cover to the Telephone Company Network Test Box and remove the cover.

Then you need to remove the the screws that hold the Telephone Company Network Test Box assemble to the wall and gently pull the Telephone Company Network Test Box out about 6 inches from the wall.

The separate, blue CAT 5 cables running to each phone jack can then be seen in the hole in the wall.

Warning
: Unless you have have a real need to get at the separate CAT 5 cables, you should not mess with the Telephone Company Network Test Box as you run the risk of breaking or disconnecting one of the many wires in the Test Box and losing your telephone service.

Note 3: Each of the separate CAT 5 cables uses one of the four twisted pairs for telephone service leaving three twisted pairs of which only two pairs are needed to setup a typical100 Mbps network connection e.g. a 100BASE-TX Ethernet network.
 

Twisted Pair 1  - Telephone
Twisted Pair 2  - Network
Twisted Pair 3
Twisted Pair 4  - Spare

Or, if you have Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service, you could use the twisted pair normally used for telephone service and the spare twisted pair to create a second network connection in each CAT 5 cable.

Twisted Pair 1  - Network
Twisted Pair 2
Twisted Pair 3  - Network
Twisted Pair 4

However, a lot of work is required to utilize the telephone wiring to build a network. Specifically;

  1. RJ45 plugs need to be installed on all of the CAT 5 cables behind the Telephone Company Network Test Box, or at least on all of the cables that are to be used for data. Installation of the plugs should be done to either T568A or T568B standards and should only be done by a professional installer.

    Note 4: Each RJ45 plug needs to be installed in such a way that it does not interfere with the already connected twisted pair that is needed to provide telephone service to the phone jacks. 
     

  2. Dual outlet jacks with an RJ11 jack for telephones and an RJ45 jack for data need to be installed in place of the existing telephone outlets for all outlets that are to be used for data. Installation of the jacks should be done to either T568A or T568B standards and should only be done by a professional installer.
     

  3. An electrical outlet needs to be installed in the closet for the modem and the router. Fortunately, and not by accident, there is a conveniently located electrical box, under a blank cover, on the same wall by the Telephone Company Network Test Box. An electrician should install the outlet.
     

  4. With the above CAT 5 and electrical wiring in place, all that is needed to finish the job is to connect a modem (cable or DSL) and a router to the electrical outlet and the appropriate Cable/DSL and CAT 5 cables which are all located in the same general location in the bedroom closet. Installing a shelf to place all of this equipment on is recommended.

Townhome Wiring - In the townhomes, the Network Test Box is mounted on the outside of the building. That makes sense from a telephone company testing standpoint. But it makes getting at the individual wires to set up a network more difficult than in the condos.

That said, given today's alternatives, the easiest, cheapest, and most flexible way to install a home network is to use a WI-FI Broadband Router (54 Mbps), or for greater speed and reliability at a slightly higher cost, a Powerline AV Network (100 Mbps).

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