So my house was built in 2004 (I just moved in this past May) with whole house ethernet. When I moved in, I inherited a 16 port 10/100 switch which was connected with these short ethernet cables into some sort of a patch panel (is that the correct term?), which then is connected to all of the various ethernet cables that run throughout the house.

Problem is I have no gigabit. No problem, right? Just switch the switch over to Gigabit. Did that. Well, er., nope. Still no gigabit. Removed my modem, which isn't gigabit, thinking maybe that was the issue. (Even though in the past, I had a 100mbit printer on this same switch and had gigabit with everything else no problem). Nope, even when the only things connected are gigabit there's still no gigabit.

So my thinking is, either A) My cables, for whatever reason (my networking knowledge is limited) don't support gigabit or B) They are somehow wired incorrectly for gigabit. Are either of these things possible?

A couple things to knock out.

  1. Yes, I need gigabit. (Some of my networking buddies keep telling me 'what's the big deal' since my broadband throughput doesn't even saturate 100mbit) I have a home server downstairs that I'd like to access full speed. My wifi is Wireless N, to a router upstairs in a central room. So it's connected to the in-wall ethernet. It'd be nice if my wireless router (Apple Time Capsule) had a gigabit connection to the rest of the wired network (Server, Desktop PC and DirecTV box) for sure!

  2. Pictures attached show the original 10/100 switch which I'm still using. I have a 5 port gigabit switch that I was using, plugging in only the cables that correspond to jacks upstairs that I actually use. For the time being, I've got everything on the same switch. Previously I just had the switch on it's own not connected to anything so only 3 of my upstairs ports (modem, server, then 3 cables going upstairs) were 'hot', but then I only use 3 upstairs so that was fine.

Patch plate, or whatever it's called. (What is this thing called?)

Another view of the wiring, towards the top there's a telephone line patched in for the DSL modem, the telephone line comes in at the other side of the garage and, for whatever reason, patches in here

Quick question, and this is just displaying my ignorance, why do I even have it wired in like this? Why not just install crimped connectors at the end of those cables and plug 'er in instead of splicing it with this little panel and running another length of cable with crimped connectors? Same question for the telephone line. Why not just run it through the ceiling of the basement like they already did. What does wiring it into that panel and then wiring a short length to plug into the model back into that panel do?

  • What are the markings on the cables used between the patch panels and the switch, and the cables in the walls (behind the patch panel)? You need at least Cat 5 (Category 5, 5e, 6, or 7) to run gigabit. It's possible you have Cat 3 or Cat 4 wiring. Aug 1, 2014 at 4:30
  • It's all Cat 5. With the exception of the one gray cable which is a telephone cable (whatever that is) which runs to the DSL modem. The telephone service comes in at the other side of the basement so (believe it or not) they ran Cat 5 from the phone jack on the other side to here, patched it in, then ran standard phone up into the patch panel. Everything else though is blue Cat 5 up to the walls and then gray Cat 5 to the switch.
    – John
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


From your photograph it looks like the green/green-white pair and the brown/brown-white pair of the Ethernet are not connected in to the patch panel. For 100 Base-T connections that is fine as it only needs 2 pairs to work. However 1000 Base-T requires all 4 pairs of wires.

You will need to connect up the remaining 2 pairs, however you may want to look closely at the cables jacket and see what it is rated for. 1000 Base-T's minimum recommendations are to use Cat 5e cabling, a house built in 2004 could easily only have standard Cat 5 instead of Cat 5e.

To answer your question about the splicing, it is because whoever did it did not know what they where doing. They had done many phone installations in the past so they wired up the house for Ethernet the same way they would have wired up for phone. But doing it the way they did it is just asking for interference. I would recommend going and buying a proper Patch Panel and replacing the plate the original installer did.

  • Thanks! Why even go with a patch panel? I guess that's my next question. Why not just add crimped connectors at the end of the cable and plug them into a 10/100/1000 switch? What exactly would a patch panel do for me when the switch is 12 inches away? The cable is not labeled as Cat 5e, but just Cat 5. Does that mean this is just a bust, and I'll need to re-wire to get gigabit?
    – John
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:05
  • Correction; it is Cat 5e. I looked at it wrong I guess. So, then my final question is; can I just yank these cables out of the patch panel, crimp on some connectors (using all pairs), plug them into a gigabit switch and call it a day? Or is there a reason I need a patch panel for this setup?
    – John
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:10
  • Often a patch panel is used to prevent wear on the cable feeding in to the wall, any time you want to change out equipment you are clipping and clipping a connector. Those connectors can wear out, and yes you could just cut it off and put a new connector on but after a extended time you keep cutting more and more off until you don't have enough wire to reach your equipment. Patch panels are designed to have a much larger connect-disconnect cycle counts and are easier to replace than a crimped end if they do wear out, so you don't run in to the shortening cable problem. Aug 1, 2014 at 18:09
  • It is up to you to decide if cables getting shorter and shorter over time is a problem or not. If you don't think wear will be a problem, there is nothing stopping you from not using a patch panel. Aug 1, 2014 at 18:10
  • Gotcha. Well this is just a home setup, not commercial. In the past 10 years nothing has been plugged in or unplugged down there, and once I've got it on gigabit, I doubt it will be again! Ha! But, with that in mind, I may just have to research how to get it to work in 'gigabit mode' with my existing panel or with a new one. Thanks so much, Scott!
    – John
    Aug 1, 2014 at 18:31

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