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I hope this is the right place for this question! I live in an apartment that provides internet as part of the rent, with ethernet ports in each room, managed by a third party company.

Because I host my own NAS, media server, Apple TV, etc; I connected all devices in my individual room to my own router, which has its own DHCP server, and maintains an entirely local network "within" my apartment's network. However, this local network only exists when I connect directly to my router, wirelessly or with ethernet.

I would like to extend this local network to encompass all ethernet ports within my apartment unit. Currently, there exists what appears to be a 16-port switch within a wiring box in my unit. This switch connects to ethernet wiring that goes into the main building, presumably connecting the unit to the entire complex network.

I have my own, fully managed, 16-port ethernet switch. I could, theoretically, effectively bypass the apartment complex's switch, plug all of my unit's ethernet connections to my own switch (including the port that my router is currently connected to), and disable my router's DHCP so that the local network is managed by my switch, allowing all ports in my unit to connect locally to the devices connected to my router.

My question(s):

  • Will that work?
  • Will the apartment's third-party network administrators be able to easily notice that I've done this?

Of note - currently, the apartment's network requires that I "whitelist" any device's MAC address on their management software. I did this for the MAC address of my router, and it worked fine. Thus, I imagine I'd be able to do this same thing for the MAC address of my managed switch.(?)

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  • What is the make and model of the existing switch? What is the make and model of your replacement switch? Does your replacement switch have the ability to serve DHCP? Does it have the ability to act as a NAT gateway? These are not common features for managed switches, until you get up into the range of so-called "layer 3 switches" (which are really just managed, VLAN-capable layer 2 switches with router functionality built in).
    – Spiff
    Sep 4, 2018 at 18:53
  • @Spiff - I do not have the model of the existing switch on-hand (I'll look it up later and reply then). The model of the replacement switch is the TP-Link TL-SG108E, managed. I am certain it can server DHCP, and it can support VLAN. I'm not positive if it can act as a NAT gateway, but will look later also.
    – HunterM267
    Sep 4, 2018 at 19:02
  • I just looked at the user manual for the TL-SG108E (v4) and it doesn’t say anything about having a DHCP server. It has a DHCP client to it can get its own IP address from some other DHCP server, but it seems it cannot act as a DHCP server itself. You need a NAT gateway between your own apartment’s private LAN and the building/ISP LAN. You need a DHCP server on your own apartment LAN, that doesn’t serve DHCP to the entire building. So you need some kind of home gateway router between the ISP connection and the rest of your home network. Your switch will not serve this purpose.
    – Spiff
    Sep 4, 2018 at 20:28

3 Answers 3

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I'd recommend looking up the details of the existing switch and see if it's a managed switch or not. If it's not a managed switch, then the "ISP" (the third party apartment complex LAN management company) probably isn't monitoring it. I would figure out which port of that switch is the uplink to the rest of the building's network, disconnect that cable from the switch, and plug it into my router's WAN port. Then I'd connect one of my router's LAN ports to the switch.

The downside to this arrangement is it sounds like your router contains an integrated Wi-Fi AP, and "inside a metal wiring panel enclosure" is not a good place for an AP, because the metal will act as an RF shield blocking all your signal. I might disable the AP functionality of that router and put other Wi-Fi APs in one or two better locations where I have Ethernet jacks in the apartment.

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  • Thank you for your reply! I will look to confirm if the switch is managed/unmanaged later today, but if it's not, your idea sounds good. For the reasons you mentioned (metal enclosure, etc), I'd like to keep my router/Wifi AP where it is now. To allow this, my idea would be to use my managed switch in the metal enclosure, connect the port my router is on to it, and disable my router's DHCP - effectively allowing it to be a remote AP. Does this idea hold water?
    – HunterM267
    Sep 4, 2018 at 19:04
  • @HunterM267 Is there a location in your apartment that would be good for an AP, where there is a wall faceplate with two Ethernet jacks? You could put your router there and use one jack for the WAN port (patched through the wiring panel to the building/ISP drop) and use the other jack for the LAN port (connected to a switch that goes to the rest of your private drops).
    – Spiff
    Sep 4, 2018 at 20:31
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The topology you are describing is actually very common. Since you intend for all the devices to be able to connect to the server, its most important to connect the server to the main access point first. In this case your router. The switch that is inside the metal box, leave that alone. I would venture to say that its most likely a demarcation point or a large repeater to push the signal to all the apartments in your complex. Chances are, without permission if you go and start yanking on wires...people will start to get upset. And if you accidentally temporarily shut someone else's network access off, they most likely wont be too exited about that. The easiest and most efficient way would be to follow my steps as follows.

1)Check your IP address to determine your local subnet. 2)Determine the subnet of your wall outlets as well. If you have RJ-45 ports built into your apartment, plug one up, check the ip and see if its on the same subnet as your devices are. Double check those built in ports first though. Be careful that the ports in the wall are not RJ-11 ports used for telephone. If that is the case nothing will work no matter how hard you try lol. 3)Once you have determined your subnet, plug your server into the router or switch(which ever you went with here...) and set a static IP address that is inside the scope of your network. Make sure you configure the subnet correctly or nothing will work. Then simply connect all the other devices back up and make sure there are no conflicting IP addresses(dhcp should handle that) and configure each device you want to get to the server with for sharing. If all that is done as stated, your network will work flawlessly.

Also another option you could do is port forwarding, but I would recommend getting everything working locally first before doing anything like that.

Let me know how it goes.

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Does the number of cables connected to the switch equal to the number of jacks in your apartment plus one? If there are more then it effects more then your apartment. If the cable count is good then a basic wired router in front of the switch is the way to go. And turning off the dhcp from your router. Otherwise, I would recommend the https://www.amazon.ca/D-Link-DHP-W611AV-Powerline-AC1200-Starter/dp/B00PVDJKFM/ref=asc_df_B00PVDJKFM/?tag=googlemobshop-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=292952161850&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17534913048122404713&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9061009&hvtargid=pla-491704575091&psc=1 To extend your current network to other rooms.

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