It has been almost a year since many of us started working from home, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. If your WiFi is playing tricks on you, however, there are other ways to improve connectivity throughout your home. Today we’re going to talk about one of the oldest – and possibly still one of the best ways to connect your equipment to the internet – Ethernet.
But what is Ethernet?
Ethernet is a wired network communication standard developed in the early 1970s by a computer engineer named Bob Metcalfe and his team of researchers at the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto.
Over the years, Ethernet has shifted from coaxial cable to twisted pair cable and fiber optic cables. The original standard called for network frames sent at 10 Mb / s. Today, it is not uncommon for Ethernet to communicate at 1 Gb / s over twisted pair cable. Ethernet can go up to 40Gb / s or even up to 100Gb / s using fiber optic cables over corporate networks in data centers or in specialized environments.
Why would we want to use Ethernet?
Chances are you already use some Ethernet at home. Most consumer broadband installations have a residential gateway with integrated Wi-Fi and a broadband access device, such as a cable modem or optical network terminal (ONT). These will be connected by a short Cat-5 or Cat-6 Ethernet cable and the 8-pin RJ-45 modular connector, which connects a fair number of homes.
But all home routers / residential gateways have at least one or more additional Ethernet ports, which allows you to extend that Ethernet network. However, the number of ports on your router is not always sufficient. An Ethernet switch is like the USB hubs that you can buy for your PC or Mac. If you run out of Ethernet ports, you need to turn to a switch, which will give you more network interfaces.
Why connect more devices to Ethernet instead of using Wi-Fi?
For starters, Ethernet is very reliable. He is sure ; it’s much more difficult for someone to sense your network traffic if you are using ethernet, especially if you are using something like a VLAN. It’s also a lot faster than the network connectivity you’ll get in most home environments with Wi-Fi.
Even with Wi-Fi 6, you will only get speeds of 450-650 Mb / s under optimal conditions; you will still have interference and latency. With my 1 Gb / s fiber optic connection, I frequently get downloads over 900 Mb / s, which is close to wire speeds, when using a computer connected to the Ethernet switch.
The other good thing about Ethernet is that it has fairly high distance limits, up to 100 meters. So you can get the full speed of that cable over that distance. This is a good thing if you have a multi-story house and want to have high-speed network connectivity on all floors. Maybe the lower floor Wi-Fi or even your mesh network is not enough because there are too many walls or whatever. You can then connect your network using a Wi-Fi access point via Ethernet, and a long cable runs from the switch or router.
However, you should be able to route this cable through a wall soffit, attic, or crawl space, or run it along the wall under the carpet to where it needs to go.
Is building an Ethernet network expensive?
Building an Ethernet network doesn’t have to cost you an enormous amount of money. It is not uncommon to come across unmanaged 16-port desktop Gigabit Ethernet switches from brands like Netgear, TP-LINK and D-Link for very affordable prices on online sales platforms. You can also purchase pre-fabricated cables with a length of 30 meters for very small fees. Finally, it is also possible to crimp your own cables with a crimper and purchase the twisted pair cable reels and RJ-45 heads, which will make your own cabling even less expensive.
Many streaming devices have Ethernet ports already built in, like the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and game consoles like Xbox and Playstation. Network adapters for laptops are also not very expensive. Many hubs are additionally equipped with Ethernet and HDMI and additional USB-C and USB-A ports for $ 40, like Anker’s.
What about the more expensive Ethernet switches?
The high-end models are managed switches and are more expensive because they have special segmentation and security capabilities, such as VLANs. They are generally intended for small and medium businesses. But these more expensive switches can also work with power over Ethernet or PoE.
In addition to Ethernet communication, a Cat5-Cat6 twisted pair cable can also carry power. This means that if you want to place, for example, a wireless access point in a remote area of your home or in your small business where there is no power outlet, you just need to plug in the Cat5 cable. there and plug in the device. A useful tip for broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal in a large area or for installing an access point on the ceiling.
What if I can’t connect Cat5 to my home?
There are other ways to get Ethernet around. One of these is MoCA, or Multimedia over Coaxial Cable, which uses the coaxial cable you might already have in your home in the days of cable or satellite TV.
Many homes have had to have coaxial cable for many years, but you can also use the coaxial cable outside and inside your home if needed, as it is copper cable. thick and armored that is best designed to be protected from the elements. A MoCA adapter is a device connected in pairs, that is, you have one on one side of the coaxial cable to send the Ethernet signal and another on the receive side where you can place a switch or, for example, an access point or something.
What if you don’t have a coaxial cable or don’t want to use a new one?
Finally, we come to something called Ethernet over Powerline, or HomePlug AV2, which is like the opposite of PoE; we send the ethernet signal over the AC power wires that are already inside your house.
Again, this uses a pair of devices. One is plugged into the wall, then Ethernet is wired to your switch. Another is plugged into the wall where you want the Ethernet signal to go, and an Ethernet cable comes out of it, which plugs into whatever you want. Using this method, it is possible to plug these adapters into outlets throughout the house, so that your electrical system becomes one large network.
There are now prerequisites to be met: if your wiring is old and plugged in, it may not work. You may also not get good throughput. However, it is theoretically possible to achieve a gigabit connection by doing things this way. You can get Homeplug AV2 adapters in pairs for under $ 100 from Amazon, and companies like Netgear, Trendnet, TP-Link, and D-Link make them. Now you know what you have to do.