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Discussion Starter #1
*I have no idea what I am doing.*

In the basement I have a 24 port Patch Panel with 11 CAT6 cables punched into the back of the Panel. Each CAT6 cable from the Patch Panel goes to every room in our house and is terminated with CAT6 Keystones and wall plates.

Shaw is coming this Saturday to install Phone and Internet. At the moment I have a 5 year old modem that I previously used with Shaw and a 5 year old Airport Express http://www.apple.com/ca/airportexpress/

I don't want to rent equipment from Shaw. Do I need to buy a router (or something else) before this Saturday?

Does the line from the modem just punch into the back of the patch panel or is the connection made some other way?
 

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For each room that you wish to have wired connectivity, you would plug in a cable on the patch panel and then to the router, modem. or switch.

For example, if you have one computer in an office, then you would plug your pc into the keystone jack. The jack is connected to the patch panel via the cable run through your house. You then will plug in a cable into the front of the patch panel that corresponds to the office keystone. the other end will plug into your modem (or router then modem as described below). If you have more then one PC that needs to be wired, then repeat with the exception that the cables for both rooms would have cables running from the panel to a router and then from a router to the modem.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Most routers I've seen have 3 or 4 ethernet ports. Given that I have 11 connections will I need something else to connect all 11 connections at once?
 

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workgroup switch

The routers will give you the ability to connect 3 or 4 PC's. Linksys has a 4 port workgroup switch and Dlink has an 8 port workgroup smartswitch. So if you fee the modem output RJ-45 to the router WAN input, then feed one of it's outputs to one of the slots on the Dlink 8 port switch you can then patch up to 10 wired PC's from your panel to your workgroup switches.

Set the router up to always use a single MAC address to the outside world on the WAN side so that it appears as a single connection to the modem. The router, depending on the type can give you NAT translation and firewalling customizations as well. If it is a wireless router and you set up security on it properly you could also use it with a laptop or two.

Some of the better large screen TV's can also be patched in directly and used with a home pc and "serviio" program to watch home videos or also subscribe to video subscription services directly via the network connection.
 

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While it was not explicitly stated the patch panel contains 24 independent lines. In order to tie them together a simple switch will do. You can buy 2 or 3 8 port switches and chain them together. Or go with a D-Link DES-1024D which is a 24 port switch and goes for $90ish. You will need a router too to handle the NAT. Any old one will do. It will use one switch port and you have 23 patch cables going to your patch panel from the switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Okay. I understand what it is I need to do for now and what I will need to do in the future.

Many thanks.
 

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mr.steevo,

I have a configuration similar to yours. I recommend you buy a switch large enough to handle all those ports (say, a 16-port gigabit switch).

For your cable modem/router, I'd avoid connecting that in your basement, especially if you have a two story house. The reason is that you ideally want you wireless access point (i.e. your router) to be as central as possible. If you have a coax and network jack somewhere on the main floor of your house, I recommend you connect your cable modem to that coax jack, connect the cable modem to your WAN port of your router (via ethernet) and the connect one of the ports of your router's built-in switch to a nearby CAT6 jack in your wall (via ethernet) which is connected to the switch I recommended previously.

While it may be tempting to locate your router in the basement to "hide" it, I think you'll find that wireless performance is much better if you keep your wireless router as central in your house as possible.

At least, that has been my experience.
 

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you can probaly get away with an 8 port switch, and use the 3 unused ports of your router to power the other 3 ports of the patch panel, giving you 11 in total, but you will be maxed out with no room to grow, so maybe nows the time to invest in a 16 port switch.
 

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Do I need to buy a router (or something else) before this Saturday?
Yes, but with consumer level gear, you'll rarely find one with more than 4 ports. This means you'll also want a switch to provide more ports. I recently bought a 16 port 100 Mb switch for $40, but I've also seen 8 port Gigabit switches for somewhat more. Between the two devices (16 port switch & 4 port router), you'll have total of 18 ports available for use (2 are used for the connecting patch cord).


Set the router up to always use a single MAC address to the outside world on the WAN side so that it appears as a single connection to the modem.
Routers *ALWAYS* present a single MAC address, that of it's own interface. Routers do not pass MAC addresses. Many routers can be configured to clone the MAC of one of the computers behind it. Routers operate at level 3, but MAC addresses are level 2.


I think you'll find that wireless performance is much better if you keep your wireless router as central in your house as possible.
It's also possible to purchase access points that can be plugged into the network at any convenient location. There's no reason you can't have multiple WiFi access points, to provide coverage. One thing I've done is use standard 4 port WiFi routers in bridged mode, which will provide additional ethernet ports at their location, in addition to WiFi.
 

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8 ports switches are fairly common these days. Trendnet makes a very good 8 port switch for about $50-$60. It should not be difficult to find one in a major city or to get one shipped overnight. 16 port switches are available but cost more, maybe $150. Use just one switch at the patch panels. Using multiple switches, including the ones in the router or modem/router, will affect network performance. Only the cables used need to be connected, not all of them, so an 8 port switch might be sufficient. An 8 port switch will service 7 lines.

A typical setup would be cable/phone line in > modem > internet router > switch > patch panel. If a wireless access point is being used, that could be connected directly to the internet router since speeds are limited by the wireless protocol.

You will also need about a dozen short patch cables, about 1' to 2'. I've seen these on sale for a couple of dollars each or they could be made up from cable and parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again for everyone's input.

My intention is to buy an inexpensive router and switch for the basement connections and use the Airport Express upstairs for my wireless point. The wireless needs will only be for iPods and an old laptop we have where as the wired points will be connecting directly into the home theater equipment and desktop computers.

The router I have found is the Asus RT-G32 which is $25 and will be painless to toss in a few years when I expect to need Gigabit. I'll turn off the broadcasting of the Asus RT-G32 and just use the Airport Express. I'll keep my eye open for switches.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great!

Thanks for the heads up. I am assuming it's the type of gear I need and with luck I'll be able to get the house connected this weekend.
 
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