Question Is there a device to get wifi from Cat5e socket?

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by AnneVerona, May 30, 2017.

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  1. AnneVerona

    AnneVerona
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    When our house was renovated in 2003 Cat5e cabling was run from a "comms centre" out to all rooms with most ending in RJ45 sockets for our LAN (many cables were never connected to anything and just sit, coiled, in the back boxes). We were promised that this would "future proof" us. Unfortunately the installers did not foresee how widespread wifi was to become and we now find our system has shortcomings.

    Most pressing is the matter of being unable to connec my iPad and phone to the internet in a bedroom which, because it is some distance from the router, doesn't receive a wifi signal. I realise that we could set up a powerline arrangement to bring wifi to the room but I would prefer to utilise the Cat5e cabling which already runs to it. I have imagined a device which plugs into the RJ45 socket and beams out wifi. Does this exist? If so, what is it called?

    A second, general, point I would appreciate people's opinions on is: Am I correct in believing that taking advantage of the Cat5e cabling would always be preferable to relying on wifi for everything (PC network, printers, smart TV, etc)? Professionals we've had contact with recently (over the last few months we've had to have a new Sky box, a new TV and a new PC) pretty much all tell us to forget about our Cat5e cabling and just focus on wifi but I suspect it's just easier for them, rather than better for us. I'd feel more confident if I could quote AVForums members ...

    I hope I have used correct terminology and that I have explained myself OK - as you can tell, I'm not very clued up on these matters.
     
  2. cjed

    cjed
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    It certainly exists, it's called an Access Point - you can often re-purpose old WiFi Routers as Access Points - see the using two routers sticky thread at the top of this forum. BTW, there's no need to limit yourself to just one additional AP, commercial installations often use many APs.

    Yes, wired ethernet is *always* better than WiFi, unless you have no choice. I have everything wired if possible, with the exception of laptops, tablets and other mobile devices.

    NOTE: I'm assuming when you mention that they're all wired back to a "comms centre" that it contains a gigabit switch which they're plugged into (either directly or via a patch panel).
     
  3. Kristian

    Kristian
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    What he said ^^

    Cabling is much better than wifi where you can use it. This is one of those occasions whereby your 'future-proofed' cabling can be used :). Assuming your cabling can be connected to your broadband router then you can buy any AP you fancy and either configure it to work in tandem with your existing wifi, or use it to replace the one on your b/b router. There are a few ways to do it...
     
  4. Chester

    Chester
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    @AnneVerona Your cabling guys sure had good foresight to put CAT5e in everywhere, even if an application hadn't been assigned at that point. That's a real good move as @cjed and @Kristian say. Shame that you need to get some termination done to make use of some of the unused cables; I suspect this was on purpose for future visitation. Nonetheless, be careful as solid-core cable can become brittle over time and man-handling 14-year-old cable is not advisable.

    I'll back-up what's been said before, wired Ethernet over any other networking media every time! But that's not something your iPad is interested in, so WiFi access points (or APs) that can be distributed around the home to give you the coverage you need.

    Is it possible to have some details of your 'comms centre'? That would give us an insight as to possible directions you coulf take product wise. I suspect the best approach would be a PoE (Power over Ethernet) network switch and some APs, the former you may already have.

    Also, a sketch and general construction of your home (internal stud or stone wall, makes a massive difference).

    As for not trusting the Sky engineer in matters of networking, probably wise, but that's not to say that they're wrong in this matter. They're currently trained to push 'Q' that uses your mains cabling and powerline technology, which is massively inferior in many respects to dedicated category cabling, not least of which is performance. So they're not interested in the approach that a network engineer or custom installer for Home Automation would take for example. Ultimately you're the customer, and it's good to be well informed prior to making decisions here.

    I think that's all I can add for now. Let us know if we can help further, but we will need an illustration of your home and where you intend using network appliances, and inventory at the centre.
     
  5. AnneVerona

    AnneVerona
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    I'm grateful to you cjed, Kristian and Chester for taking the time to advise me on this.

    I have googled "access point" as it was a new term to me and found these two items which I think are the sorts of things you're saying we need:

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/tp-link-t...fi-universal-routeraccess-pointrepeater-n34ql

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/tp-link-tl-wa801nd-n300-wireless-n-access-point-n45ql

    Perhaps one of you would confirm that I'm on the right track.

    I did read the 'two routers' thread but it was too technical for me. We've made arrangements for a home computer services man to come to the house to sort out these niggles but I became wary when he asked me to get a powerline kit for him to install even though I'd explained that we wanted to exploit our Cat5e cabling (and even I know you pretty much just plug them in so hardly something we needed to pay for his expertise to carry out). I feel much more confident about standing my ground with him now that you've told me about access points and reassured me that the consensus is still that wired systems are better than wifi - thank you.
     
  6. Chester

    Chester
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    Yep, send them on their way. I used to be in their shoes once, so take that as you will!

    There's a couple of manufacturers I can highly recommend for WiFi at home, and that's Netgear and Ubiquiti, with the latter specifically their UniFi range. I'd also recommend Draytek for non-Apple users (that's a story for another day). I'm not a TP Link fan. As far as value for money goes, they're hard to beat, but I've also noticed in more dedicated forums that they do have their short-comings. I'm a firm believer in set-and-forget.

    Again, having more information about your 'comms centre' and site layout will allow us to make much more informed suggestions to your problem.
     
  7. cjed

    cjed
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    The two items linked to are Access points, but quite low spec. devices. Depending upon the size and layout of your house you'll probably only want a couple of additional APs, so I'd go for good dual band units that support the AC WiFi specification.

    PoE (Power Over Ethernet) has been mentioned, and it makes the installations of APs significantly simpler as you don't need a nearby mains supply for power - that comes over the Cat5E cable. You can either get PoE directly from a suitable network switch, or via mains powered injectors (often devices that use PoE come with an injector) which are used near the switch. Here's a link to a Dual Band Ubiquiti AP that uses Poe (and I believe comes with an injector).

    If your computer services man is insisting on Powerline, rather than fitting you a Cat5E socket to your existing cabling and an appropriate ethernet connected AP, you should look elsewhere.

    Finally, as Chester has mentioned, it would be a good idea to post information on the setup in your "Comms Centre" and the rough layout and distribution of the house and Cat5E cabling. The information will help the suggestions you receive from the contributors here, and will be required by whoever ends up doing the installation.
     
  8. AnneVerona

    AnneVerona
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    Thank you Chester and cjed for all that additional information, especially the link to the Ubiquiti AP which you both regard favourably.

    I would post a diagram of the set up in our "comms centre" if only I knew what everything is called. The computer services man won't be able to install the AP when he comes tomorrow (I'll need to discuss it with him before ordering and the powerline kit he told me to buy is going straight back to Argos) so, to justify his call-out fee, I'll ask him to explain what everything in the cupboard is/does (something we stupidly didn't think to do all those years ago) instead. I should then be able to sketch it out meaningfully.

    I'll take your advice and not book him for a further visit if he tries to dissuade me from what you've advised.

    I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you once again - I feel so much better about embarking on this upgrade now.
     
  9. ChuckMountain

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    Another +1 for what's been said already. Wired CAT 5e or better will always be the fastest.

    I had two of the 901ND TP Link Wireless AP in my house, that's a slightly quicker version of the second one you linked to and they were ok but I then upgraded to the Unifi AC Pro version and can get away with one and with much faster transfer speeds. The Pro version is about £125 so is significantly more that the Lite version but either should be ok.

    What people often see is the advertised 300Mbps speed for wireless is what they get. Its often a fraction of this particularly if you have to go through a wall etc. I was lucky if I got 70Mbps in real life particularly in a different room.

    With wired cable on Gigabit then bar a few small overheads you get close to the 1000Mbps if you devices can keep up. If you have more than one device too it doesn't have as much impact.
     
  10. maf1970

    maf1970
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    I would dismiss the computer services guy now as he clearly has no terminating skills. As an alternative I would suggest researching local cabling companies and asking them to help as they would have the know-how. As to the comms room just take some full pics and some close-ups of each piece of kit and I'm sure we will be able to help there as well.
     
  11. mickevh

    mickevh
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    Terms you may hear when your chap is describing the comms centre are things such as "patch panel" "switch" "cable management" "UTP" (what the "cat" cable is actually called.) However, the echo Maf1970, if you post some pics, there's a good chance someone here will recognise everything (mfgs make/model logos etc. are a big help.)

    To develop the point about the drop off of Wi-Fi speeds with distance and (physical) obstructions - by design Wi-Fi is "just like that" (the speeds are not continually variable, but "step" through various speeds as signalling conditions deteriorate.) The radio frequency waveband (5GHz) used by the A/AC and some variants of N are more susceptible to this than the frequencies (2.4GHz) used by B/G and some other variants of N. To get the best performance out of Wi-Fi, especially the 5Ghz A/AC/N variants, ideally one needs line of sight between client and AP.

    To get the best performance out of a "cellular" Wi-Fi infrastructure, one needs to pay attention to the "channel plan" and as much as possible try to ensure adjacent cells are not using the same or similar radio channels. SOHO kit generally does not "talk" to each other to agree/negotiate a channel plan, so you are (probably) best to design and fix the channel plan yourself rather than let it "auto" set - but we can get into that more when you have the equipment installed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017

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