When my parents had their house built about 10 years ago, the wiring guy told them that he should install some fiber in the walls, saying that it would be good for future use. So there is some kind of fiber-optic cable connected to several rooms throughout their large house.

They have never had a need for it and so it has sat untouched. I was wondering if there would be a way for me to use it to extend their Ethernet network (which is just wireless now, with a Linksys router). I'd like to move the router to a better location, but the desktop still needs to be connected to it, so I thought I'd try to use the fiber.

My questions are:

  • Is this possible (without spending a ridiculous amount of money)?
  • What would I need in terms of equipment?
  • If this is not feasible, can you think of some use I would get out of having fiber in the walls? Seems like kind of a waste.

There is a wiring box in my dad's closet and there are six connectors there (3 pairs of 2) hooked up to some wire that is looped and run into the walls. I THINK the connectors are ST connectors, but I need to do some more research. Still don't know what the wire is, but I'll look more closely at that as well.

FWIW, I have a huge amount of experience with PC repair and general computer applications and programming, as well as plenty of experience with Ethernet networking on a small scale. But I've never worked with fiber and know very little about it (obviously).

  • It's referred to as fiber optic "cable" rather than "wire". – Dennis Williamson Aug 22 '09 at 22:23

Oh boy, sounds like your parents might have been suckered in by an electrician. Still, fiber is fairly cool to have in a home environment ;)

Running your network over fibre is almost the same as running it over CAT5, in that CAT5/Fibre is just your choice of medium. You still run networking protocols over them, in this case, ethernet.

It's definately feasable. There's plenty of 10/100 Fibre Switches floating around on eBay (at least, there used to be). When you get a fibre switch, it operates in the same manner an a CAT5 switch, only with fibre instead of copper.

That said, there are some terms you will need to familiarise yourself with. I see you've already done some legwork to figure out that you probably have ST terminated fibre. Unfortunately the more common type are SC (the square ones) so this will limit the amount of choice you have in switches.

To uplink your fiber to your ethernet, you have two options. You can get dedicated Fibre > Ethernet converters (and these will probably be pricy), or you can get a CAT5 switch with a Fibre uplink (more common). Then you just run a small fibre patch cable between your two switches.

Another term you will want to familiarise yourself with is MultiMode/Single Mode. From memory there's no way of telling if you cable is single or multi mode unless it's written on it, but make sure that you get the right kind of equipment that will be compatible with it.

  • I would be certain that it is multimode since singlemode is for outside plant. ISTR an old home-network spec that that had 62.5 uM multimode as a recommendation. That's what appears to be in the house. – dmoisan Aug 23 '09 at 20:54
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    I would say that nowadays multimode is just for suckers. Use singlemode for everything and you'll never have the wrong kind. Also just one type of spare parts (per link speed). – Thomas Aug 25 '09 at 6:49
  • Thanks for the info; this is all really helpful! I'll see what kind of cable it is when I go back to my parents' house next month. – johnnyb10 Aug 27 '09 at 2:59

Unscrew one of the fiber jacks from the wall. If the cable inside the walls is orange then it is multimode (99%+ likelihood).

Don't bother with anything 10/100 and look for a media converter that connects 1000baseSX to 1000baseT on each side and you can treat the whole setup like a patch cable.

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