CAT-5 and Phone Line....

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by wheezy, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    Well, after months of wondering why CAT-5 was never wired in my house, only phone lines, I discovered today that it's actually CAT-5 running in the house, we only have phone jacks. I never really looked at the cable, I jsut figured the builder was stupid and didn't network a brand new house. Upon further examination, all the cable says CAT-5 on it. All the phone jacks in the house are wired with CAT-5, which is awesome, because the one wireless router I have doesn't cover the house worth crap, and I'm tired of a weak signal. ANYWAYS, I have a friend coming over tonight to help me change some phone jacks into ethernet jacks.

    OUR QUESTION: Can you use one CAT-5 cable to run both the network signal, and a phone signal? Could we buy a phone/ethernet wall plug, and use the same CAT-5 to connect both, so we could have a phone jack and an ethernet cable? My friend knows more than me, and figures it can be done, but I thought it would be fun to post a question about it here.....
  2. thecow macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2003
    Timonium MD
    The way that the phone lines are set up is that all of the jacks in the wall go to a central box that connects them all and then outside to the telephone pole or under ground. There is also probably a service box outside and the box that connects the jacks is probably somewhere near this inside. You would need to figure out which cables are going to be used to for the network and which ones you want to keep as phone lines. You can't have one cable connected to the network and the phone system. The easiest way to do this would be to go around with a corded phone and unplug all of the phone jacks at the splitter box except for one and find where that one is in the house. Once you know where each cable goes, you can decide which ones to change. Make sure to mark which wires are connected to the phone splitter box because the phone system only uses 2 (or 4 sometimes) of the ~8? wires that are in cat-5. I'm assuming your friend has a cat 5 crimper? You will need one.

    Disclaimer: All of this info is based on the way my house is set up, which is about 50 years old but it should be fairly similar. Your actual results may vary.
  3. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    Short answer is yes. It could be a long night if your friend is not as experienced as he claims.

    Analog generally uses pair #1 (White/Blue, Blue). Ethernet uses pairs #2 and #3. In residential wiring (568A) pair #2 is White Orange/ Orange and pair #3 is White/Green, Green.

    From the perspective of an 8P8C connector, pair #1 is pins 4 and 5, pair #2 is pins 3 and 6, and pair #3 is ping 1 and 2.

    I would carefully note how everything is terminated before making any changes. As Adlo Leopold once said, "The first law of successful tinkering is to save all the parts".

    Good luck!
  4. saabmp3 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2002
    Tacoma, WA
    Now, although I do agree with you, I have two problems with this. AFAIK (and you know more than me with the pairs), you can only have one phone line like this (may or may not be a problem. Problem #2 is that you're going to get interference, sometimes you won't notice, sometimes you will. For me, this would be a killer, it can screw up the link over ethernet, and cause background noise on your phone.

  5. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    I am not a big fan of splitting wire, but since the poster has a single Cat5 run and he needs/wants both phone and network he has only two choices.

    #1 - Run more cable. This is what I'd do, but I am not sure the poster wants to get this involved.
    #2 - Split the wire. It's not a great solution, but it does work. A point of controversy amongst cablers, but it generally works okay.

    As far as only being able to do this for one phone line, I am not sure what you are saying.
  6. MacFan782040 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2003
    Scranton, PA

    I agree. You should avoid trying to use ethernet/phone on the same wire. Here's a better suggestion... Why is your wireless signal so weak? You must have a pretty decent size house. If I were you, if you have any desktop Macs in the house with Airport cards, share the internet so your Mac acts like another wireless router. From my results, the signal strength is very good. My understanding is Airport will connect to the strongest signal, so depending on where in the house you are, it will find the strongest signal, (which is all coming off of one router to begin with.

    I wired my house with CAT5 a few years ago, and although it's cool to have every room wired, with my wireless router, I don't really use it anymore. I find the speeds are generally the same as wired, and the only thing we u se it for is an old iMac that doesn't have Airport, and Xbox Live.
  7. FoxyKaye macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2004
    Livermore, Terre d'Ange, Bas Lag, Gallifrey
    Our office is wired in some places using option #2 above (network/analog phone), and in others with independent CAT-5 jacks since we also have digital phones. Whenever I'm using a port that's a split CAT-5, I can tell immediately whether or not someone is sending a fax by the sudden decrease in connectivity.

    I'd personally vote for adding a second wire, though this generally involves long periods of time running string, snakes, and cutting pieces of drywall. If not, it's not an optimal solution to split your CAT-5, but it does work.
  8. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    As the saying goes, your mileage may vary...

    In this case, they are not doing any harm by trying. If it's not working well they can put the wiring back the way it was. If it does work, they've saved some money and some extra work.

    If the question was I am installing new cabling, what should I do. Then I'd suggest running two cables and not even suggest splitting.
  9. FoxyKaye macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2004
    Livermore, Terre d'Ange, Bas Lag, Gallifrey
    Kind of curious - do you think that at some point, wireless will make the need to hard-wire a building obsolete (assuming you don't need anything more than a standard Internet connection)? Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but I know when my partner and I buy a house this year, I'm not going to even bother trying to retrofit CAT-5 - just pick up a couple wireless routers and/or Airport Expresses and let them run.
  10. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Wires will always have a place in business. It is more secure. But in the home? You will probably see more and more wireless routers in the home, but I'm sure some people will stick to good old twisted pair. It is generally easier to set up (after you run the wires). No need to worry about encryptions, passwords, SSIDs, etc, etc.
  11. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    A couple of years ago I finished our basement, and in the process ran Cat-5 cabling for all of our phones and network jacks throughout the house. Now, of course, I'm running primarily wireless, so it was almost a waste of effort. However, if you are going to do what you are looking at doing, I'd suggest getting yourself a punch block to handle the line splitting. It will make it easier to split off the phone line from the network lines and keep it all straight.
  12. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    I might not be the best person to ask for an unbiased opinion in this area. But here it is...

    I prefer wires. They are faster, more secure, less trouble and more flexible. I do have wireless in my house and in my business and as part of my business install and support wireless networks (use to own a wireless ISP as well). In my view, wireless is a nice overlay technology to standard wired ethernet.

    Having said all of that, I use my home's wireless network daily and could not conceive going back to having to use a wired connection for my PB. But, this is for my laptop. My servers, and stationary computers are all wired. I also have VoIP and use IP for audio distribution (Sonos) that is all wired.
  13. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Or, buy one more wireless router for the part of the house with teh weak signal, and change the phone cable over to ethernet for that location only.
  14. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

    This is correct.

    And just as well, you better hope that it's not one Cat-5 wire that's run through the home. IF it is, the possibility of doing this is moot. Some builders use only one wire and daisy chain it throughout the home, other use "runs" of cat 5. Each one is "home run" to a distribution panel, where the phone line from outside comes into, and you may have networking adapters in that distro panel as well. However, if you don't have a distro panel, I can make a safe bet that it's one wire through out the home.
  15. Laser47 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2004
    I have a friend who's house is wired up with cat5e that shares both phone and ethernet, it works great. I wouldint worry about interference, if the phone line has its own pair then the interference should cancel out, hence the reason why there are twisted pairs. He also had a ethernet cable tester and we tested the quality of the wire when the phone was in use or ringing and in both cases the wire performed excellently. If you cant run seperate wires then this solution is most likely your best bet.

Share This Page