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When I did up my home network, I had to lay CAT6 network cables in casing all over the home and let the renovation contractors lay his cement and flooring over the network.
Networking in Singapore new BTO Flats
But nowadays, it is NOT necessary as many BTO flats come ready ! Almost ready ….
Recently I have the opportunity of doing up the network for a new BTO (Build to Order) flat in Sengkang/Punggol area in Singapore.
These recent flats actually came with network cables lay all over the home already. Yes, they are already nicely set up for a home network with CAT6 cables. Wow.
The only issue ? The catch ? Well there are 2 issues
(1) The network was not laid with data network in mind. It was laid for telephone network. Every room is cabled up but yet they are all terminated with a telephone jack and not a network RJ45. This is how it looks:
To be fair, there is a data point but only one and it is at the living room area where the TV usually is. This is how it looks:
(2) The network points end points are housed in an utility cupboard where the fibre optic ONT point is too.. which is great.. Except they are all hidden and not available to use easily. This is how it looks:
And to be fair, this is BRILLIANT compared to the older flats. You even have the Fibre Optic internet point already in place and they have thoughtfully placed a power point for your router and even a big enough space for the router to be wall mount. Basically you are ready to go to have ONE (1) data point at home. Most people will end up using wifi then. But this is such a waste as the whole flat is actually wired up with CAT6 but only 4 wires are used up for telephone. It is a waste.
Upgrading BTO flat network to CAT6 LAN network
So I decided to redo the network to the whole place to be data network ready. To do so, rather than trying to do it myself, I engaged the services of a company called BTO Networking (Facebook page here).
The steps are:
(1) Replaced all telephone points with RJ45 keystones and convert the telephone points to data points. Photos:
The sharp eye in you will notice that this is a CAT6 cable but only a few wires are used for the telephone. The rest are just lumped up and kept. So he removed the telephone jack and use up all the 8 wires !
And the face plate:
Tata.. I converted all 5 telephone jacks to data points. Dining Room + 3 Bedrooms and yes, even the Bomb Shelter room. HA HA 🙂
(2) Next, he worked on the utility box and converted it to a mini network patch panel area 🙂
The trick is to open the top left box where all the cables are kept.
The behind of the cover.
What’s behind the box… all the cable ends points ! Used as telephone lines now ! Going to change that ! 🙂
And then he has to pull out the cables and find the RIGHT cables (there are some spare ones). He also need to relocate (moving one of the cable) to the lower right part as he has a faceplate for 4 RJ45 but I have 5 telephone points. So we need to use 4 on the top left and then 1 on the bottom right. You will understand when you read on 🙂
Each cable has to be painstakingly converted to a RJ45 keystone:
Finally when completed, he did the testing using a network cable tester. His is so much more complicated than mine 🙂
Very good piece of mind when saw the testing results ! HAPPY LIKE MAD.
And now it is all done up ! 6 points in all. 6 points in a nicely done patch panel “look alike” 🙂
How does my BTO network look like after the changes
So these are my 6 points:
Left top box
1 : dining room
2 : common room 1
3 : common room 2
4 : store room (where I am going to fix a network printer for the whole family to use)
Right bottom top
5 : master bedroom
6 : living room (the original only data network point)
This diagram will make it clearer
My thoughts on how the BTO networking upgrade went
(1) I think the price is very reasonable. There are many other companies advertising such services but I think BTO Networking (the company I used) is good. One man show but he does the work really carefully and well. I personally highly recommend BTO Networking.
(2) Do not use the wireless fibre optic router that will be placed in the utility point. Instead, switch off the wireless of that router and use it only as a router. Why ? Cause the utility cupboard is closed by nature and very far from the bedrooms. So the wifi coverage will be bad. Instead, buy another wireless router (e.g. this Asus is my choice) and use it as a WIRELESS ACCESS POINT (note, not a router.. but as a WAP). Place that router in one of the bedrooms (preferably the ones in the middle of the house e.g my case it is Common Room 1) and plug a network cable from the “telephone point-become-network point” you have paid to convert into the WAP and ta ta, you get greater coverage 🙂
This diagram will help explain my own layout. From the original patch area near the door, I use the network point at common room 1 to provide the wifi coverage for the whole house.
(3) Consider using the store room as your IT centre … I am going to fix a network printer for the whole family to use.. Some people place their NAS here too.. Like a Synology DS1813+…mmmm)
(4) Do these before the renovation starts (or after you have discussed all your telephone/network needs with your renovation designer.. their carpentry might affect the location of your RJ45 points as well as the painting of the house might want to be take place AFTER you changed the point. Also consider all your networking needs (E.g. which rooms might be your entertainment room, do you need network for your bedroom TVs etc)
(5) Lastly, changing the telephone points DOES NOT make it not possible to use a telephone point ! In fact, it makes it even better. Usually we use a DIGITAL VOICE now and that comes from the router in the utility box. So that means that we can just connect a telephone line from the Router to the exact LAN point where you want the phone line to be. For example, you might want to place the phone in your study room and just plug a phone line from the router to the LAN point stated as “study room” in the utility room. At the other end, in the study room, the LAN point can just plug in a telephone line to the telephone 🙂 But that also means you gave up a LAN point, yes ?
By popular demand, readers are asking how this looks AFTER i set up ? Okie here’s how it looks with the ViewQWest fibre optics set up and cables running to the points:
Hope you like this article.
Do share with your friends who just bought our most amazing BTO flats :p