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ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Posted by janesylvia (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 7, 12 at 12:20

Comcast technician came to my newly bought house, and said the house has dish network cables, which can not support comcast internet. Comcast does not do inside wall fish since 5 years ago, and suggests I hire some contractor do it.

So I am going to hire a contractor install both internet coax cables and ethernet cables (with a patch panel) for my house. It's a 1800 sqft one-story house in SF bay area. Which ethernet cable I'd better to choose-- cat7, cat6a, or cat6e, which would be good enough for the next 10 years?

I called one technician. He does cat6 and cat6e ethernet cable wiring, and he said there is no cat6a. But later I found cat6a on internet, which performs better than cat6e and is thicker, much heavier, does not like normal zip ties, requires a bigger bend radius, and needs more testing. I don't know if it'd still better to use cat6a, or cat6e is good enough in my house for the next 10 years.

Any input is greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Did Comcast specify the coax for you?

I'd like to think that for all practical purposes, 6e and 6a are the same, but I suspect the connectors may be different. One means 'enhanced', the other 'augmented'. Cat 6e/a is capable of 10G at less then 100 feet, so depending on your house that should be just fine.

Do you happen to have a 10G router or switch? I don't see them in residential applications that much, just data centers.

The deal with Cat6x is the connectors. The internal wire is larger (22g vs 24g) and all conductors are used (unlike cat5).


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Wow! It sounds like you talked to some real characters today!

"the house has dish network cables"

What are Dish network cables? Coax for TV/cable comes in 3 flavors - RG59, RG6, and RG6 quad. RG59 is fine for terrestrial broadcast and equipment interconnections, RG6 is used for satellite and cable service, RG6 quad is the same as RG6 with additional shielding for use in electrically noisy environments.

Comcast is simply running a drop to your house and a single cable to your cable modem/STB. If the cable from the outside of your home to the set-top box was Dish, it would then already be RG6. I have no idea what this guy is talking about.

Next, there are ONLY 4 recognized classifications for CAT5/6: CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT6a. Unless your running a data center, it is highly unlikely a home network will ever need more than CAT5e.

At 10 Gigabits CAT5e can go for 45 meters, CAT6 for 55 meters, and CAT6a for 100 meters. Home DSL/Cable internet speeds go from 1.5-10 Megabits and may go higher in some areas for a premium fee.

Although, if there is a possibility of using one of the data cables for HDMI video distribution, instead of using it for network purposes, use of CAT6 is recommended for better performance due to it's increased bandwidth.

It sounds like you may still need to talk to somebody more knowledgeable than the ones you already have.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Typically, the hassle and cost of doing the actual work is (almost) the same regardless of the wire type.

Also, typically, the said cost dwarfs the cost of the materials - even if CAT6A or CAT7 (never heard of either myself, but I may be behind) is more than CAT6, pick that.

I for example, used R19 insulation (instead of the code-mandated R17) and 20A-rated electrical wires (instead of the customary 15A) in my house - out of the same principle: negligible cost difference for better result.

My Ethernet wiring is CAT6... CAT5e is almost always enough today, but to run it costs about the same and there may some day (soon) be an application, which could benefit from higher throughput.

Even today connection between two fast computers on your LAN will take advantage of CAT6.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

While it's always nice to have "the biggest and the best" for future-proofing, realistically, you don't need anything better the CAT5e. Are you going to be a co-lo datacenter?? I doubt it. Are you going to have multiple high-taxed servers that will need a CAT6 infrastructure?? I doubt it.

As another poster mentioned, the cable type really doesn't matter that much "initial" cost-wise. The real cost of the project is the labor, and, IMO, I wouldn't bother. Get yourself some nice wireless-n routers and AP's and you should be fine. Remember, wireless speeds and technology continues to grow also, so, speed will only be increasing in that arena. WPA-2 security is fine, you will be secure, and, you can bank all that $$ you would otherwise spend on a contractor installing cable.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

CAT6/6A info:

http://www.cableorganizer.com/articles/what-is-difference-between-cat6-cat6a.html


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

I'd go with cat 6 if you can, but the installation's more important - well installed 5e would be better than badly installed 6. Use a media specialist.

I had to laugh at the 'dish network' cable remark. That's why you don't use cable co techs to do that sort of thing.

As for wall fishing, is the drywall already on? It would have been better to wire it beforehand, but it's not impossible.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Thank you so much for all the responses above, which are very helpful.

yosemitebill, really appreciate your detailed information on coax cables. I called Comcast again, saying that the RG6 cable the house has for previous dish network service should also support the cable service. They will send another technician to the house this coming Saturday afternoon to activate the comcast internet service. Cat6 might be enough for me. It's a 1800 sq ft house with flat roof. The longest distance inside the house is 35m, shorter than 55m, which the cat6 can go for at 10 gigabits.

alan_s_thefirst, this is the house we recently bought, and no drywall has been touched yet. There are many cable outlets in the house--living room, dining room, family room, two of the bedrooms. I don't know why the comcast technician talked about wall fishing.

When one cable outlet was activated, do all the cable outlets in different rooms get activated? The
technician who came last Sunday said no, but the comcast person who picked up my phone today said yes.

Is it better to have a patch panel when I have 6-7 ethernet outlets added?

Really appreciate all your kind help.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

With that many ethernet ports, I would get an 8-port switch, gigabit for now. You can look around on line, I don't think they cost that much. And if you need to go up to 10G one day it is certainly replaceable.

I'm not sure if a 16-port is cheaper than two 8-ports.

There is such a thing as coax patch panels if you want one. I think normally such things are done with splitters.


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cheap switch

Here's one for less than $100.

Here is a link that might be useful: sample 16-port switch


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

A 16 port switch is going to be simpler and cheaper to run. I suspect if you daisy chain two 8 ports, the second one downstream is only going to be able to deliver a maximum of the speed of the port it's plugged into, to the ports of the second. IE, if switch 2 is plugged into a 100mb/s jack, it will have a maximum of 100mb/s to use.

If you're going to have a lot of active coax outlets, then you may need a distribution amplifier, as opposed to passive splitters.

Patch panels are really overkill for data in most homes. All you're doing is running cables from jacks in different rooms, terminating them on a panel, then requiring patch cords to a router, or the router itself is hard wired to the patch panel.

You may as well terminate the ends of the cables from each room with RJ-45 connectors, and connect them directly to the router. You're not really gaining anything with a patch panel, but they do look cool.

What you SHOULD have, is a media panel/media enclosure, and run everything back there. If you are planning to wire for an alarm system, you should run those wires back to near the media panel.

Typically, the cable tech will only hook up enough cable outlets for the cable boxes you've signed up for. If you have a media panel and splitter/distribution amp, you can have some measure of control and flexibility. If it's a digital/analogue signal, you'll probably be able to get basic cable to the outlets that don't have a cable box.

You don't want to connect up outlets you're not using - it weakens the signal and can induce noise. a
Again, if you have a distribution amplifier or multi-splitter, you will want to put terminators on the unused ports...otherwise, they can pick up broadcast interference.

Here is a link that might be useful: F-type terminator


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Keep in mind also, for your data needs you may need a ROUTER as opposed to a SWITCH, depending upon what Comcast gives you. If they give you a plain cable modem, you'll need a wifi-capable router, which will allow multiple physical connections, as well as wireless, assuming you'd like that capability as well. It will offer a DHCP server, which can distribute IP addresses to all your devices, which a switch alone cannot.

If what Comcast gives you offers multiple ethernet ports and wifi, you will probably be fine with just a switch, which will take its IP addresses from the Comcast box. Ask the tech.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

While a patch panel dresses things up, no it's not necessary - you are then just using another patch cable to go from the patch panel to the switch port. Proper labeling of the cabling is necessary though, like in as where each one goes.

Using an Ethernet switch is fine for computer data use, however, if you plan to stream video from over the top service providers such as Netflix or Vudu, a router is better for this application as it deals with data packets as opposed to data frames. You could use the router on those media connections and attach a switch to an open port on the router for the other connections.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

"Using an Ethernet switch is fine for computer data use, however, if you plan to stream video from over the top service providers such as Netflix or Vudu, a router is better for this application as it deals with data packets as opposed to data frames. You could use the router on those media connections and attach a switch to an open port on the router for the other connections."

Adding a router instead of a switch beyond the wifi/wired router modem is, obviously, putting a router behind a router, which, is entirely unnecessary and just adds another hop from the termination network to the Internet.

the setup should be: Internet >>> Comcast modem >>> Wifi or wired router >>> switch (if the router doesn't provide enough ports for all your house drops) >>> patch panel >>>> end points.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

In my experience, Comcast doesn't provide cable modems with a built in 4 port switch for residential customers, only Business customers.

Residential customers get a Motorola SurfBoard modem (sb5100, sb5101, sb5120, sb6120) or, if you are getting voice services from Comcast also, you could get a RCA modem EMTA with integrated battery backup or like model.

Business customers typically get a SMC8014 which is a modem/router with an integrated 4 port switch.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

"the setup should be: Internet >>> Comcast modem >>> Wifi or wired router >>> switch (if the router doesn't provide enough ports for all your house drops) >>> patch panel >>>> end points.

Um... I think if you read the whole thread, that's exactly what I said - except that a patch panel was not necessary. :)


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Um... I did read your entire post, maybe its me, but, it seems a bit confusing.

What are you trying to say when you write that a router is better to have than a switch for netflix or vudu apps?? Any router is ALSO a switch, which, end point devices like tv's or computers would plug into, not another router.

If this:

Internet >>> Comcast modem >>> Wifi or wired router >>> switch (if the router doesn't provide enough ports for all your house drops) >>> patch panel >>>> end points

is what you intended to say, then saying one should exclude a switch in favor of a router doesn't match this setup.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

There may be some confusion since this there are a couple posts on this same installation.

You can not connect a switch directly to the cable modem unless it is a "gateway" - a router is required. Even if it is a gateway they can be very problematic. The router connects the WAN (from the modem) to the LAN. The switch interconnects the devices on the LAN.

Most current routers nowadays are optimized for streaming A/V as one of their features. They monitor their own built-in (switch) ports and prioritize data to help ensure smoother media flow. A switch on a router port, feeding multiple ports, will generally not receive this same prioritization. That is why I recommend connecting streaming media devices directly to the router. Streaming media on a home network from NAS makes no difference.

The chain should be: cable modem, router (with it's ports feeding streaming media connections), and a switch connected to one of the router's ports, feeding the other network connections, for best overall performance.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Ya Bill, I already knew that, glad everyone knows that now!!! :)


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Thank you so much for all the responses, which are very very helpful.

I had 10 ethernet drops installed in our 1800 sq ft house by a contractor. He also put a patch panel free of charge. I currently have the Linksys wireless-G broadband router. Would an 8-port network switch be enough in my case (Netgear FS108 ProSafe 8-Port Fast Ethernet Desktop Switch) or would it be better to buy a 16-port switch (Netgear FS116 ProSafe 16-Port Fast Ethernet Desktop Switch)?

Really appreciate all your kind help.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Sounds great. I presume the Linksys router has a few ports on it, so the 8 port would probably be enough. If you plan to maybe add a Skype phone adapter, alarm system or similar, you might want more ports later. Keep in mind, theoretically if you have only 10 drops, you're probably only going to need 10 ports. (8 on the switch, maybe 4 or more on the router?)

Personally, I'd buy the bigger one for future expansion.

Keep in mind if you want wi-fi, the router will need to be mounted outside any media panel (I know you said patch panel) in order for the radio signals to work.

Enjoy.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Thank you very much, Alan. If I want wi-fi for tablet, will it be fine that the router is mounted with patch panel inside the closet of an office in the house?


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

You're welcome. A closet should be fine, provided it's not lined with tin or anything!
Just allow adequate ventilation and some space around the aerial/aerials.

Wifi is kind of unavoidable these days, what with tablets and smart phones. It's an ideal partner with a wired network to really integrate everything.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Have a backup plan if the closet configuration doesn't provide your wireless router a strong enough signal. You don't need a Faraday Cage to keep a wireless signal from working - combinations of various building materials can cut off wireless signals very effectively.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

That's true, also the lie of the land. Mine is in a basement mechanical room, I'd have better signal in the backyard if it was elevated. I've actually considered mounting an external antenna in an upstairs closet, or even inside the wall.


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RE: ethernet wiring, which cable to choose?

Alan and tjda, thank you so much for your help.


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