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Help with structured media panel

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Slickone

Occasional Visitor
I just bought a preowned house that has a structured media panel, which I've never had, and am trying to figure out what all the previous owners have going on with it and what I need to do to get it right. Seems the previous owner had AT&T fiber, and I plan to carry over my Xfinity cable instead, so I want to remove anything to do with the fiber setup.

As shown in the photos, there are three yellow ethernet cables, one coming from the top left hole in the panel, one coming from the AT&T box, and the other coming from the hole in the wall (where does it go?). None of these are connected to anything on this end, as all three shown lying on the wire shelf.

There's a blue wire and a white wire coming in from the orange tube. Both are just "cut" on this end, and lying on the wire shelf. When looking at new homes, I noticed this orange tube sticking out of the house to the outside. What is this supposed to be used for?

There's a black wire and a blue wire, both coming from the top left hole in the panel, going to a small box (and as shown in the blurry photo, the blue wire is half cut).


As for the coax cable, oddly only one is attached to the splitter. As shown, most of the coax cables aren't connected on this end and I assume those all go to each room, but I assume they had Direct TV (there's a dish on our roof), although one cable is connected for some reason. Also, as shown, why are two of them connected to each other here?

Do people usually put their cable modems inside these panels? And maybe use that one ethernet cable that runs to the hole in the wall to connect the modem to a router in one of the rooms?
Should I buy a better? I see some are much nicer, which a shelf to hold a modem.
 

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Forum would only let me attach 5 photos. Here are the rest.
 

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Forum would only let me attach 5 photos. Here are the rest.

No way to give definitive answers, you will probably need to invest in a cable tracing tool (tone and probe), or something like the Klein VDV Scout which can trace lots of things at once.

The orange duct is your main feed from outside.
Within the orange duct:
Likely that cut white coax is the cable company's main incoming feed, they will need to put an end on it and connect it to the "in" of the coax splitter.
Blue is probably for incoming phone I would guess (maybe an old POTS line or it is fed from a VOIP box somewhere, not sure if cable, AT&T, etc). You'd need to look at the other end of the orange tube and see where that blue ethernet goes (ethernet is often used to deliver phone now). I can't see why they'd have an ethernet incoming, unless there is a second fiber provider and their ONT box is in a shared space, in which case that ethernet would be for their data, and the coax may also go to that ONT for TV.
The white with green end is AT&T's fiber incoming.

The splitter was probably installed by the cable company at some point, then when the previous homeowner put in satellite and only needed one TV, they connected just that one. You can connect whichever rooms you want back to the "out" ports of the splitter, and cable company will be on the "in". I also see two coaxes coupled together, maybe that is his directTV and whatever is connected to the splitter is just old from previous cable. Again you probably need to disconnect all of them and trace and label the wires to have it make sense. Probably most of those feed rooms and one comes from attic or wherever the satellite is. He either just directly coupled the satellite feed to the room where he needed it, or it is running via the splitter. Your only option to figure that out is just disconnect them all and trace them out. If you don't want to invest in a tracing tool, once you have a TV signal, you just go room to room with a box, and connect one cable at a time to the splitter, when you find one that connects, label that wire, rinse, repeat. Kind of a pain but works. A tone and probe set can be gotten cheap and will be faster.

The rest is just guess work, you need to trace it out, but:
Yellow from top left is probably to a room in the house somewhere that the builder figured is where a router would go. Likely has an RJ45 wall jack on it. Or maybe it goes to another box somewhere else that has lots of ethernets feeding the rest of the house.
That yellow is connected via blue coupler to the yellow on the bottom right which I'm assuming is one of the yellows coming out of the wall box below it. That would have probably been the LAN off his router running to an access point or wired PC, switch, etc. He just had to extend it a bit as it wasn't long enough to get to the wire shelf.
Yellow from AT&T box also appears to come out of that wall box, which would have been the WAN on his router.
Top right Black is probably a phone jack somewhere in the house or feeds to a breakout box with lots of phone lines.
The blue coming out of the wall box below is probably the blue connected to the black phone line going to the rest of the house via that RJ11 box. His AT&T router that was sitting on the wire shelf probably had a phone output on it
 
Last edited:
I just bought a preowned house that has a structured media panel, which I've never had, and am trying to figure out what all the previous owners have going on with it and what I need to do to get it right. Seems the previous owner had AT&T fiber, and I plan to carry over my Xfinity cable instead, so I want to remove anything to do with the fiber setup.

As shown in the photos, there are three yellow ethernet cables, one coming from the top left hole in the panel, one coming from the AT&T box, and the other coming from the hole in the wall (where does it go?). None of these are connected to anything on this end, as all three shown lying on the wire shelf.

There's a blue wire and a white wire coming in from the orange tube. Both are just "cut" on this end, and lying on the wire shelf. When looking at new homes, I noticed this orange tube sticking out of the house to the outside. What is this supposed to be used for?

There's a black wire and a blue wire, both coming from the top left hole in the panel, going to a small box (and as shown in the blurry photo, the blue wire is half cut).


As for the coax cable, oddly only one is attached to the splitter. As shown, most of the coax cables aren't connected on this end and I assume those all go to each room, but I assume they had Direct TV (there's a dish on our roof), although one cable is connected for some reason. Also, as shown, why are two of them connected to each other here?

Do people usually put their cable modems inside these panels? And maybe use that one ethernet cable that runs to the hole in the wall to connect the modem to a router in one of the rooms?
Should I buy a better? I see some are much nicer, which a shelf to hold a modem.
Call a technician.
 
I just bought a preowned house that has a structured media panel, which I've never had, and am trying to figure out what all the previous owners have going on with it and what I need to do to get it right. Seems the previous owner had AT&T fiber, and I plan to carry over my Xfinity cable instead, so I want to remove anything to do with the fiber setup.

As shown in the photos, there are three yellow ethernet cables, one coming from the top left hole in the panel, one coming from the AT&T box, and the other coming from the hole in the wall (where does it go?). None of these are connected to anything on this end, as all three shown lying on the wire shelf.

There's a blue wire and a white wire coming in from the orange tube. Both are just "cut" on this end, and lying on the wire shelf. When looking at new homes, I noticed this orange tube sticking out of the house to the outside. What is this supposed to be used for?

There's a black wire and a blue wire, both coming from the top left hole in the panel, going to a small box (and as shown in the blurry photo, the blue wire is half cut).


As for the coax cable, oddly only one is attached to the splitter. As shown, most of the coax cables aren't connected on this end and I assume those all go to each room, but I assume they had Direct TV (there's a dish on our roof), although one cable is connected for some reason. Also, as shown, why are two of them connected to each other here?

Do people usually put their cable modems inside these panels? And maybe use that one ethernet cable that runs to the hole in the wall to connect the modem to a router in one of the rooms?
Should I buy a better? I see some are much nicer, which a shelf to hold a modem.
This panel was setup to distribute CATV throughout your home. It also can be used to connect a cable modem.

What you need to do is first identify and label both ends of each coaxial cable. This can quickly be done working with a partner and an inexpensive tester like the Sperry TT64202. The most important cable to locate is the cable running from your media panel to the demarc located somewhere on the exterior of your home. This is the coaxial cable that Comcast will use to bring service into your home.

Then you need to decide what services you are going to purchase from Comcast (video, internet, phone, alarm)

Where do you want TVs in each room and is there a coaxial jack that can be used?

Then for Internet where is the best location to put your modem and router. If you are going to use WiFi as you primary method to connect devices then you want to centrally locate your router in the middle of your home particularly if the media panel isn't in a central location. If you have a PC that you want an Ethernet connection for consider locating your modem/router in that room. If you stream a lot of video then consider putting the modem/router next to where your primary TV for streaming is going to be. You can use any of the coaxial jacks in the house to connect both a TV and a modem or just a modem.

It also might be possible to repurpose the blue wire if it was originally installed as a landline phone jack somewhere in the house and is at least Cat5.

If you want to use hard wire connections for some network devices you have the option of using MOCA adapters. MOCA allows data and video to share the same coaxial cable. If you don't need to have the coaxial cables used both for video and data you can purchase some less expensive Ethernet over coaxial adapters.
 
@drinkingbird @CaptainSTX
Thanks a LOT for taking time to read through and respond. After reading the replies, looks like there are more (and complex) possibilities of wiring scenarios than I thought. I *have* read through them a couple times, but am trying to make sense of it all.

I removed the fiber box and yellow ethernet cable attached to it. Attached new pics. If I can figure out what other cables were only installed for AT&T/fiber and get them out of there, it'll make things easier to figure out. The house has had two previous owners. I found out from Comcast that the first owner had Comcast, but it's obvious the most previous owner had ATT/Direct TV, so looks like whoever installed that just cut other cables.

I didn't mention it but the cut white cable is RG6 coax. I used a coax signal meter (it'll do ethernet too) and traced the white RG6 coax connected to the output of the splitter to one of the bedrooms [oddly that room has an additional coax jack on the other side of the room for some reason]. I need to get internet working in the house so I need to figure out which one comes from Comcast, but I'll need to get a coax connector tool first. Forgot to mention (though might be obvious) but white cable that someone just cut off (coming through the orange tube) is RG6 coax. So, that one comes through the orange tube, and the other (connected to splitter) comes in from the top right. Is one likely from the Comcast box and the other is from the DTV antenna on the roof? And coming in from different locations just because of different installers? I also don't know why two coax cables coming through the top right hole are connected together.

Also wondering why blue wires come in the orange tube and the top left hole. One from top left has UTP printed on it. Phone line? There's no printing on the one coming in the orange tube.

The house has an Xfinity box and an ATT box outside. Both are fed from cable going into the ground (first home I've had with underground utilities). The ATT box feeds a black wire into the white wire with green connector, then that white wire goes into the brick at crawlspace level, so assume that's going over to the orange tube? Does the orange tube likely just go straight down from the wall panel and end there? On some brand new houses I recently looked at, with a slab instead of crawlspace, it was really handy because the orange tube when to outside the house. My crawlspace defintaely requires crawling.

Most of the rooms also have ethernet jacks, so I'm curious why there aren't ethernet cables coming into this panel too. And if the cables aren't even there period, I don't now why a builder or installer would add wall plates and RJ45 jacks without cables. Regardless, I know they would be a better connection, but was thinking about just mostly using WiFi like in my previous house, vs potentially having ethernet cables run across the floors. The panel is on the main floor, in the closet under the stairs, almost right in the center of the house. So I hopefully I won't need to use ethernet. Though the main Tv source upstairs in the bonus room will be streaming, so maybe I'll use ethernet for it. Not sure I'll put the router there or in the closet with the panel.

I'm hoping to get the modem/router Comcast sent me connected by myself instead of paying Comcast $100. I'll install my own hardware (still at my previous house) in the future.

I'm wondering if I should replace the panel with another brand, like a Leviton or Legrand, so I can add a shelf for the modem. My current one is an Open House brand, I believe this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002SPKS2/?tag=snbforums-20
 

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@drinkingbird @CaptainSTX
Thanks a LOT for taking time to read through and respond. After reading the replies, looks like there are more (and complex) possibilities of wiring scenarios than I thought. I *have* read through them a couple times, but am trying to make sense of it all.

I removed the fiber box and yellow ethernet cable attached to it. Attached new pics. If I can figure out what other cables were only installed for AT&T/fiber and get them out of there, it'll make things easier to figure out. The house has had two previous owners. I found out from Comcast that the first owner had Comcast, but it's obvious the most previous owner had ATT/Direct TV, so looks like whoever installed that just cut other cables.

I didn't mention it but the cut white cable is RG6 coax. I used a coax signal meter (it'll do ethernet too) and traced the white RG6 coax connected to the output of the splitter to one of the bedrooms [oddly that room has an additional coax jack on the other side of the room for some reason]. I need to get internet working in the house so I need to figure out which one comes from Comcast, but I'll need to get a coax connector tool first. Forgot to mention (though might be obvious) but white cable that someone just cut off (coming through the orange tube) is RG6 coax. So, that one comes through the orange tube, and the other (connected to splitter) comes in from the top right. Is one likely from the Comcast box and the other is from the DTV antenna on the roof? And coming in from different locations just because of different installers? I also don't know why two coax cables coming through the top right hole are connected together.

Also wondering why blue wires come in the orange tube and the top left hole. One from top left has UTP printed on it. Phone line? There's no printing on the one coming in the orange tube.

The house has an Xfinity box and an ATT box outside. Both are fed from cable going into the ground (first home I've had with underground utilities). The ATT box feeds a black wire into the white wire with green connector, then that white wire goes into the brick at crawlspace level, so assume that's going over to the orange tube? Does the orange tube likely just go straight down from the wall panel and end there? On some brand new houses I recently looked at, with a slab instead of crawlspace, it was really handy because the orange tube when to outside the house. My crawlspace defintaely requires crawling.

Most of the rooms also have ethernet jacks, so I'm curious why there aren't ethernet cables coming into this panel too. And if the cables aren't even there period, I don't now why a builder or installer would add wall plates and RJ45 jacks without cables. Regardless, I know they would be a better connection, but was thinking about just mostly using WiFi like in my previous house, vs potentially having ethernet cables run across the floors. The panel is on the main floor, in the closet under the stairs, almost right in the center of the house. So I hopefully I won't need to use ethernet. Though the main Tv source upstairs in the bonus room will be streaming, so maybe I'll use ethernet for it. Not sure I'll put the router there or in the closet with the panel.

I'm hoping to get the modem/router Comcast sent me connected by myself instead of paying Comcast $100. I'll install my own hardware (still at my previous house) in the future.

I'm wondering if I should replace the panel with another brand, like a Leviton or Legrand, so I can add a shelf for the modem. My current one is an Open House brand, I believe this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002SPKS2/?tag=snbforums-20

Pretty sure I answered all of this already?
 
don't disconnect the fiber from the ONT if you can help it. Also, don't let the fiber bend tighter than a 6 inch radius or it may break.
You will need to make yourself a map with each of the cables labeled and traced out to which room, showing any splitters, wall plates etc.
Otherwise it will be guesswork and frustration.
 
don't disconnect the fiber from the ONT if you can help it. Also, don't let the fiber bend tighter than a 6 inch radius or it may break.
You will need to make yourself a map with each of the cables labeled and traced out to which room, showing any splitters, wall plates etc.
Otherwise it will be guesswork and frustration.

The 6" bend radius is to prevent reflections due to exceeding angle of incidence, it would take a much sharper bend than that to damage the fiber.
 
Pretty sure I answered all of this already?
You gave a lot of information (and I appreciate it), but no. At least not addressing all (and not expecting it). And since many had to be guesses, I thought me adding more information would help. Please disregard me tagging you in my reply and thanks again.
 
FYI I haven't moved into the house yet, so am having to do things and learn more in bits as I go over there, so I'm sorry about not having more details initially. I finally had a chance to look inside the Xfinity box outside. It has black coax cables coming in from the ground, connected to two white coax cables going out to the house. Why two? There's also a cut black cable that would be feeding into the house. The diameter looks smaller than the white RG6 cables. Maybe it's RG59? WHat would it be for? There're also two ground wires not connected in the box (other ends go to grounding block on wall). Not sure why they were unhooked.

I was thinking maybe one of the white coax cables in the panel is from the DTV antenna, but the antenna has black wire coming out, into the ground. From there, would this be going into the crawlspace? There's no black wire coming into the panel. Maybe in the crawlspace, it's connected to one of the white ones that's coming into the panel. Not that I need DTV (and plan to remove the antenna).
 

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don't disconnect the fiber from the ONT if you can help it. Also, don't let the fiber bend tighter than a 6 inch radius or it may break.
You will need to make yourself a map with each of the cables labeled and traced out to which room, showing any splitters, wall plates etc.
Otherwise it will be guesswork and frustration.
As mentioned, I won't be using fiber and would like to remove anything related to it.
 
Picture 33 is your main grounding connection point and is where the ground for your electrical service as well as CATV and telephone all come together. A wire from there to the ground block for CATV needs to be connected. My guess is the satellite installer disconnected it.

The next step is for you to pull a couple of RJ45 jack wall plates and see if they are wired. If they are wired confirm if they were wired for phone (2-6 pins used ) or Ethernet (using all 8 pins ). If Ethernet determine if pinned 568A or 568B.

Then the detective work begins trying to locate where the other ends of the blue cables are. There could be another panel hidden away or perhaps the cables were pushed up into the wall above the existing panel which may require cutting an inspection port into the wall to see if you can find them. I suppose they could be in your crawl space or attic if you have one. If the house was remodeled it is also possible that the panel for the blue cables was dry walled over if the previous owners didn't like the location.

Good luck on your treasure hunt. Definitely worth the effort as Ethernet is always more reliable than WiFi.
 
Picture 33 is your main grounding connection point and is where the ground for your electrical service as well as CATV and telephone all come together. A wire from there to the ground block for CATV needs to be connected. My guess is the satellite installer disconnected it.

The next step is for you to pull a couple of RJ45 jack wall plates and see if they are wired. If they are wired confirm if they were wired for phone (2-6 pins used ) or Ethernet (using all 8 pins ). If Ethernet determine if pinned 568A or 568B.

Then the detective work begins trying to locate where the other ends of the blue cables are. There could be another panel hidden away or perhaps the cables were pushed up into the wall above the existing panel which may require cutting an inspection port into the wall to see if you can find them. I suppose they could be in your crawl space or attic if you have one. If the house was remodeled it is also possible that the panel for the blue cables was dry walled over if the previous owners didn't like the location.

Good luck on your treasure hunt. Definitely worth the effort as Ethernet is always more reliable than WiFi.
Thanks. Strange that the ATT installer unhooked the grounds from Xfinity, but people do odd things. Any idea why there are two grounds? Or two coax cables (and a third possible coax - the black one), from that box to the house?

You mention tracing the blue cables. Why do you think I need those, and why not the yellow ones too?

The house is only 5 years old but who knows what they've done. Maybe I'll just remove the box to look around it.
 
FYI I haven't moved into the house yet, so am having to do things and learn more in bits as I go over there, so I'm sorry about not having more details initially. I finally had a chance to look inside the Xfinity box outside. It has black coax cables coming in from the ground, connected to two white coax cables going out to the house. Why two? There's also a cut black cable that would be feeding into the house. The diameter looks smaller than the white RG6 cables. Maybe it's RG59? WHat would it be for? There're also two ground wires not connected in the box (other ends go to grounding block on wall). Not sure why they were unhooked.

I was thinking maybe one of the white coax cables in the panel is from the DTV antenna, but the antenna has black wire coming out, into the ground. From there, would this be going into the crawlspace? There's no black wire coming into the panel. Maybe in the crawlspace, it's connected to one of the white ones that's coming into the panel. Not that I need DTV (and plan to remove the antenna).

Unfortunately cable colors and in some cases even cable type aren't going to tell you anything, and over the years, they may have run new wires, abandoned old ones, etc. Get yourself a clip on tone and probe set (one sends and audible signal, the other receives it). That way you can trace cables even if the ends are cut off.

Only once you trace things out will it start to make sense.

For example you say every room has RJ45 jacks but there is only the one coming into the media panel. Like I mentioned, there is probably another panel somewhere (or maybe just bare wires in the attic etc) where both the media panel and those room jacks feed into. Once you trace everything out, label it, and scribble out a little diagram, it will all make sense.
 
Thanks. Strange that the ATT installer unhooked the grounds from Xfinity, but people do odd things. Any idea why there are two grounds? Or two coax cables (and a third possible coax - the black one), from that box to the house?

You mention tracing the blue cables. Why do you think I need those, and why not the yellow ones too?

The house is only 5 years old but who knows what they've done. Maybe I'll just remove the box to look around it.

I've seen them pull grounds before as they can cause a ground loop and mess up the signal. It isn't the safest thing but sometimes necessary (though in reality they should figure out what is causing the loop and fix the grounding).
 
You gave a lot of information (and I appreciate it), but no. At least not addressing all (and not expecting it). And since many had to be guesses, I thought me adding more information would help. Please disregard me tagging you in my reply and thanks again.

I think if you look through, it is all in there. Yes I'm long winded but a bunch of the questions you asked in the post I quoted, I answered in the first response. Not trying to be a jerk but just no sense in rewriting it all. Like I've said, disconnect everything, trace it out with a tone and probe set (or for the ones with ends attached use the tester you already have), label it, and draw it out on paper. It will all become clear. But make sure to disconnect everything so you don't get false positives. Remove stuff from the splitter, from the RJ45 coupler, from the RJ11 phone block, remove the coupler between the two coax cables, even disconnect everything outside that you can.

Coax is almost always for TV but at some point could have also been used for data using MOCA. CATx cables can run data or phone. The colors don't matter. The info I gave, for example that the cut white coax coming out of the orange duct being likely the cable company's main feed, is all based on educated guesses, you won't be able to confirm until you just unplug everything and trace it out, then you can determine what does and does not need to be reattached, label it all for future reference, and you'll be good.

The fiber cable is the only easy one, that will always bee the carriers feed from the street. At least these days, maybe in the future houses will have fiber wiring inside but that's not the case yet. And those are easy to trace with a flashlight anyway.

And since at least 3 different companies have done wiring in there, some may have disconnected other peoples stuff, or reused it, etc. Labels and diagrams are the only way to make sense of it.
 
Thanks. Strange that the ATT installer unhooked the grounds from Xfinity, but people do odd things. Any idea why there are two grounds? Or two coax cables (and a third possible coax - the black one), from that box to the house?

You mention tracing the blue cables. Why do you think I need those, and why not the yellow ones too?

The house is only 5 years old but who knows what they've done. Maybe I'll just remove the box to look around it.
The second ground may be the one from the satellite dish. Satellite dishes are supposed to be grounded by often installers skip doing it.

Blue is the color of cable jacket most commonly used for solid conductor Ethernet cables used within walls, ceilings, etc.

Open the wall plate and see what color if any the cable jacket attached is.
 
The second ground may be the one from the satellite dish. Satellite dishes are supposed to be grounded by often installers skip doing it.

Blue is the color of cable jacket most commonly used for solid conductor Ethernet cables used within walls, ceilings, etc.

Open the wall plate and see what color if any the cable jacket attached is.

Color means nothing. I've seen blue, grey, white, green, purple, all being used for in wall wiring. The blue there looks like it may be used for phone.

Tone and probe them all out and label them, trying to do guess work based on colors is pointless. It may help point them in the right direction or it may completely throw them off because someone used a scrap of blue to extend a white etc.

It isn't that people skip grounding stuff, the issue is that when you have multiple things grounded it can cause a loop and interfere, so then they'll disconnect it. With satellite, that is particularly dangerous as it is likely going to be near the roof and subject to lightning. Though coax is at risk of it too. In reality a direct strike is going to melt those ground wires and burn your house down anyway, but it is the nearby strikes and stray energy you're trying to ground out.

I have coax lightning arrestors on coax coming into my house. Again it won't help with a direct strike but can help with surges from a nearby strike. But in reality if you aren't going to use the satellite, just take it down. If you can ground the cable junction without impacting the signal, connect that ground up.
 

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