Converting phone lines to ethernet in newer homes

My phone wires in a closet before / after conversion

I live in a house built in 2005, and when we got rid of our landline around 2012, I knew I wanted to try converting all our unused phone jacks in the walls to ethernet someday. After 7 years of thinking about it off and on, I finally got it done today. I should have done it ages ago.

There's a ton of info on the web, but a great deal of it is from people in IT or who worked on networks, or electrical engineers, and it took a while for me to get acquainted and wade through all the jargon. I'll try and keep this simple.

  1. Unscrew one of your phone jacks in the wall to see what kind of wire is behind it. If your house was built or renovated after the year 2000, chances are you have cat5, cat5e, or cat6 wires and there should be labels printed on the casing of the wires. (if you do see cat 5 or 6, you're solid and it's an easy conversion. If you don't, it'll be a lot tougher as new cat6 cables will need to be run in place of the phone lines)
  2. Find your phone/tv/wire drop in a box in a closet or in your garage. All those phone lines terminate somewhere and you have to find that panel or box. Make sure the cable casings all say cat 5 or 6 on them.
  3. My phone lines were in a bundle with a few wired to each other. One of the wires was from my home fiber connection into the house.
  4. Pay an electrician to separate the bundle and convert each cable and endplate to ethernet. They'll need to split out the original 8 wires in each, in the correct order and into new ethernet plugs with special crimper. They'll also have to replace every one of your phone plug wall plates with an ethernet plug one.
  5. Buy a simple network switch from someone like Netgear with enough ports for every cable you connect to it. Once all the ethernet plugs are attached to all your cables, connect them all to your network switch (for a simple setup, you can skip a "punchdown block" and just use a cheap switch).
  6. Have the electrician go to each room with a phone jack and change out the old phone connections with an ethernet adapter.
  7. Once complete, test that every jack when connected to a computer is transferring at high speeds (the switch will show two lights on each port).
  8. Plug any routers and wifi points into your new ethernet port for faster networking.

Most homes built in the late 90s or later used Cat 5 or Cat5e cable for phone lines and since they only use a couple pairs of the wires, you can convert them to 100Mbps or 1Gbps ethernet if you're no longer using a landline.