Wired networking (meetinghouse)
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You may choose to install wired networking connections in a handful of key areas in the meetinghouse. Oftentimes these locations will include places where computers are permanently located, as well as places where you will be viewing or uploading multimedia content. These key areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Clerks' offices
- High Council room
- Chapel Pulpit
- Back side wall of the chapel
- Cultural Hall
- Relief Society room
- Convenient to satellite and audio cabinets
- Family history center, employment center, or other such collocated office
In a wired network, you run an Ethernet cable from a port in the firewall to each of the computers that need Internet access. Depending on the number of wired connections you have, you may need to go through a switch. Cabling should be installed from a patch panel in a network equipment room to each location. You may wish to consider disconnecting some or all of the connections when not in use. In some cases it may not be feasible or necessary to run wired connection to each of these locations. For example, if it would be especially difficult and costly to run a wired connection to a clerk's office, you may opt to use a wireless or powerline solution instead.
Note: It's important to note that all computers connect to the firewall, not to the ISP modem. Only the firewall connects to the ISP modem. Do not bypass the firewall and connect computers directly to the modem.
Best Practices for Installing Network Cables
Meetinghouses vary in construction and layout. Because of this variety, we provide best practices and guidelines and allow you to implement the network in a way that makes sense in your meetinghouse. Set up a time to review the various access areas in your meetinghouse with your facility manager. You may need to walk through the entire building, opening up each door to find these access points. Look for the following:
Attic access. Many meetinghouses have access to a second floor (especially newer meetinghouses). The attic access may be through a trap door in the ceiling in one of the mechanical closets. It might be a regular, unmarked door in one of the smaller meetinghouse rooms. It might be an elevated door in the cultural hall's stage. Look for this access door. If you can access the second floor, you can run cables much more easily, as you won't need to hide the cables behind walls. As you're exploring the attic, be careful. Don't step in areas of the ceiling that you could fall through. Again, only a qualified engineer or network technician should install the network. Don't send a youth into a tiny crawl space in the attic, where he or she could easily step through the ceiling and fall to the floor.
Drop ceilings. Drop ceilings are paneled ceilings that you can lift up. By lifting up the individual panels, you can easily hide cables above it. Some ceilings may have hollow space above them without panels you can easily lift up.
Crawl spaces. If your meetinghouse doesn't have a full attic space, you may still have crawl spaces available. The crawl spaces often provide access to get to the lighting, sound system, and duct work. The crawl spaces may have less developed floors and paths, and may be surrounded by insulation on the sides. Still, if you have a crawl space, you can lay cable easily here. As you maneuver through a crawl space, be careful. Only step on structures that offer strong support, such as 2 X 4's or plywood draped across walkways that were obviously placed there for the purpose of walking. You don't want to fall through the ceiling!
Existing conduit. If you have existing conduit, you can use that conduit to run cable. A conduit is a tube holding other cables. Using fish tape, you can push or pull your new Ethernet cable through the conduit. At times the conduits may be exposed on the outsides of walls. Increased visibility of cables is always less ideal, but it can provide an established path to run cable. If you group Ethernet cables with other cables, be aware of electromagnetic interference. Although following an electric cable through a point in the ceiling may seem like a good plan, electromagnetic interface from the other cables can cause the data traveling through the Ethernet cable to fluctuate.
Cinderblock walls. Wireless signals will have a hard time passing through cinderblock or brick walls. If your meetinghouse's walls are primarily cinderblock or brick, you may need to run more wired connections than you think. Don't expect a wireless access point to cover as much ground as they do in meetinghouses that have plaster walls.
Existing jacks. Look for jacks in the wall that have phone lines leading through wall conduits. If phone cables already have a path through the walls, you can piggyback on those paths to add Ethernet cables. As you're handling electrical wires, be careful. If you don't know what a particular wire is or what purpose it serves, avoid handling it or detaching it from other cables. With electricity, you run the risk of electrocution. Again, this is why it's important to strategize your network setup with your facility manager, who knows the building well.
Wired networking pros and cons
- Faster, more consistent network speeds. Data consistently travels faster over wire than it does by air.
- Less susceptible to interference.
- Tighter control and security. Wired networking allows you to control more tightly which computers can access the Internet and reduces the risk that someone will be using the Internet without permission.
- Limited by reach of wires. You can only place computers as far away as you can wire them. If all of your computers are in a centralized location in your meetinghouse, this won't pose a problem, but if you plan on having computers in many locations, you will need a way to reach them with an Ethernet cable.
- Limited number of ports. The meetinghouse firewall comes with a limited number of built in Ethernet ports: (1) the Cisco 881W has 4 ports; (2) the Cisco PIX has 4 ports; and (3) the Cisco ASA has 7 ports. You will be limited to that number of computers unless you invest in other networking devices (such as a switch) to expand your number of ports. While this can be done without too much trouble, it does add a layer of complexity to your network in regard to future changes and troubleshooting.