Is it possible to use an ethernet switch to distribute an internet signal to sev

I have been reading about ethernet switches lately because I need to hook up three computers to the internet, but I have no need for anything wireless. I don't network my computers (again, no need) but I do need to provide internet access to all of them. I know routers can be found for fairly cheap, so this question is more of a general curiosity than an attempt to find the cheapest way to complete my setup.

I know that ethernet switches cannot connect two separate networks (e.g. LAN and WAN), but I don't understand the internal functions of an ethernet switch well enough to know if it can still send a WAN signal to several computers that are simultaneously connected to the switch. I have read that it is possible to do this by connecting modem to switch and switch to computer, then using that computer as the main internet portal for the other computers (if they are networked), but I'm wondering if you could cut out the middle-man computer for a non-networked setup (i.e. modem to switch, switch to three individual computers).

Thanks for the help.
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More about ethernet switch distribute internet signal
  1. Well it would be best to use a cheap wired only router.

    A switch just opens up traffic to everything. It's not a question of if the WAN signal willbe received but a question of what's controlling and interacting with what.

    Now, that first option that you detail, if it worked, would introduce alot more traffic and latency for the same stuff. Anything going to the internet would have to bounce to the master computer, and then go out through the same thing to the modem and vice versa.

    With the other if you're talking about cable modems and stuff like that, they typically run DHCP, and assign an IP to the device they're going to be running. I have never tried setting my own stuff up that way but it could work in theory. It would simply assign IP's to each computer. It probably just depends on your particular modem if it expects to just be dealing with one device or not. You can test this yourself when you get your router by just plugging the WAN wire into the LAN side along with the rest of the computers. I would expect it to not work, but I could be wrong.
  2. Best answer
    False_Dmitry_II said:
    Well it would be best to use a cheap wired only router.

    That is what I would do. Especially if you don't have a switch already. No point in buying a switch to find that it doesn't work when a router is generally not much more and will work.

    I've tried the modem -> switch -> multiple computers and it didn't work with my ISP. I contacted them and they stated that they only provide a single IP address and if I wanted to connect more I would have to pay extra.

    A router fixes this. The router has a WAN port which will get the IP address from your ISP, then it will use DHCP to distribute internal addresses to your machines.
  3. Well that clears that up. Technically possible, but infeasible.
  4. Thanks to both. You definitely answered my question and helped me understand why it isn't a great idea.
  5. Best answer selected by edauenhauer.
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