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Network within a network? Help please!

Last response: in Networking
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July 31, 2012 5:12:57 AM

Interesting problem here: I just moved into a townhome that is wired for fiber. Each room has 2 ethernet jacks (one presumably for voice as it does not work for internet?) and a coax jack. I turned on my computer, and in addition to my own devices, I saw all of my neighbors devices as well (30+ others).

Ideally, I would like to set up my own network or homegroup so I can only see the devices I own. The problem is, wifi is not going to work due to thick walls (low signal) and bandwidth needs.

If I limit myself to one device per room, I can make a homegroup, but this is inconvenient. I would like to have the following setup:

Living Room:
1 HTPC
1 xbox (used as media center extender)
1 router for wifi (guests, as well as smartphones, ipad & tablets)

Office:
2 PCs
1 xbox (media center extender)

In a perfect world, these would all be on the same network. I have at my disposal one ethernet switch (5 port), and a standard d-link router. If I have one device in the wall, I cannot seem to get it on the same homegroup as a device on the router via wifi. Is there a more efficient way of achieving a home network?

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July 31, 2012 8:44:39 AM

A bit of a weird setup you have there. If this was your own home, all those wired ethernet jacks would converge to a switch at your own junction box, and therefore would only be your own network.

But it sounds like all the wired ethernet jacks converge at the landlord's switch, where he's also provided routing to the internet. He’s created the equivalent of an open wifi situation, where every connected device is part of a “public” network. And just like any public network, those devices are left open to exploitation if they don’t use personal firewalls and encryption.

The simplest solution is to use your own router connected to one of those ethernet jacks, which establishes your own “private” network. Obviously that’s not as convenient as having all those ethernet jacks converge at your own router. But again, the landlord hasn’t wired it that way. As far as wireless users, you could add wireless repeaters to extend their reach, or perhaps use powerline/MoCA adapters connected to additional wireless APs.

And remember, even if you use your own router, the traffic that travels between it and the internet always traverses the landlord’s public network, and is thus subject to eavesdropping by anyone, landlord and neighbor alike. You therefore (just like open wifi) might want to consider using a VPN between your router and the Internet. At the very least, use SSL connections (e.g., https) as much as possible.

So as long as all your wired and wireless devices use your router exclusively, you shouldn’t have a problem sharing resources. That’s not to say you couldn’t have other issues. For example, Windows 7 Homegroups don’t interoperate w/ prior Windows versions (Vista, XP, etc.). If you must mix OSes, it’s best to use the plain ol’ Windows file sharing protocols.

Another “clever” way to extend the reach of your own network is with LogMeIn Hamachi (or similar products, e.g., NeoRouter). You could connect additional routers to the other ethernet jacks in the home. Normally these are treated as completely independent networks. But using Hamachi, you can create a common “virtual” network, one that’s even encrypted, and share resources. It’s not going to solve all your problems, but could help where extending the wireless reach of your network proves problematic.

Another option would be to create a site-to-site VPN over PPTP/OpenVPN. You could have two routers at different ends of the home, or on different floors, and create a single private network. Admittedly this is a bit complex for the average user to understand, let alone implement successfully, but it could be done by an experienced user and would solve some of your reach problems. And unlike Hamachi, without having to create an additional shared network. In fact, it’s probably the ideal solution in some respects, but due to the complexities involved, probably unrealistic. But it’s something you might want to tuck away as a possibility if things really become difficult.
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August 6, 2012 6:59:39 PM

Thanks for the response (sorry for the delayed reply, email changed since I last used this forum).

I am not sure exactly how the setup is for the community as a whole, but this is a townhome (which I now own), and I have 4 other neighbors in the same building. I see 30+ devices on the network at any given time, so unless my neighbors have even more stuff than I do, I think I am dealing with more than just my building.

In the small network panel I have access to is a modem that takes the fiber lines and splits them out to 5 jacks throughout the house in separate rooms. Those jacks have 2 ethernet ports and one coax port. Only one of the ethernet ports works for internet, so I am assuming the other is some kind of voice or VOIP line.

I tried going into the closet and hooking up my wireless router straight off the modem then splitting out to the rooms, but that did not work (no internet signal in any of the rooms). I think this is due to the voice line and the internet line sharing the same cable off the modem.


All that being said, I am not sure what the contractor was thinking when setting this up, but I was wondering if there are people out there who specialize in this kind of thing? I am assuming this is above the expertise of the Geek Squad, but im willing to give it a shot...

Any idea how much it would cost me to get a network technician out to look at it? Is there a place I can find people like that?
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August 7, 2012 5:48:50 AM

Why limit your self to one device per room?

To answer your question there is no "more efficient way".

You connect devices to routers. DOODOOOO
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August 7, 2012 5:07:14 PM

So after brainstorming and messing around with the network panel I was able to find a workable solution:

I bought an ethernet patch kit from Home Depot and used some old Cat 5e cables I had lying around to modify the panel and put in a router off the modem. Then I plugged in the lines going to each room of the house into the router and placed it INSIDE the panel. Now it effectively is using only one internet line from the modem, but I still have the ethernet voice if I need it, and the wall jacks are all piped into my router.
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August 22, 2012 3:38:00 PM

Best answer selected by mangoose.
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