It’s 2010, almost 2011, and yet people ask “What Ethernet splitter should I buy“, or just keep looking for Ethernet cable splitters without asking.
What is Ethernet splitter
…or network cable splitter, or RJ45 splitter after all?
Well, that was a way to pass two separate Ethernet connections using a single Ethernet cable. In other words that was a way to reuse the same long network cable to connect more Ethernet equipment. Back then, when there were no online stores with some 15,000 switches, hubs, and routers for $20 a pair, that was a way to connect more equipment without passing dedicated network cable every time. Nothing wrong with that.
phantom power technique. Anyways, you can make your own CAT 5 splitter with little effort, although in my opinion it’s pointless.
that was a way to pass two separate Ethernet connections using a single Ethernet cable…
I’m trying to think about any reason to use some sort of 2 port RJ45 splitter these days. Let’s assume for some reasons we just can’t use wireless connection – large volumes of data, too many users streaming video and running P2P applications, etc. Within the same room one can simply run an extra cable – no big deal. Running a new cable might be an issue if the target location is a bit far, or the cable has to pass in-wall. Back then it would be a sure case for a network cable splitter. But is it the right solution in 21st century?
The devices actually splitting Ethernet connections without exploiting unused wires are hubs and switches.
Ethernet Splitter vs. Ethernet Hub
What is Ethernet hub?
Ethernet Hub, simplified, is a hub – when one device sends a network packet, Ethernet hub broadcasts it to every connected device even though the message was intended for somebody else. This technique has massive overhead, hence naturally cheap hubs are considered slow and inefficient.
Network Splitter vs. Ethernet Switch
What is Ethernet switch?
Switch is much smarter device. And among smart switches there are smarter ones – managed switches, and, well, simpler ones – inexpensive unmanaged switches. Smart home wiring always involves a switch sitting somewhere in your basement.
Unlike hubs, Ethernet switch doesn’t broadcast packets (unless asked to do so). It goes and builds a table with physical addresses of all connected devices, so if one of the devices sends a packet to another one, switch finds the addressee in its table and forwards it only there, creating significantly lesser overhead. Moreover, multiple switches can talk to each other to find the proper addressee among their devices.
Therefore, instead of figuring out what Ethernet splitter to buy, all you need is a single Ethernet switch at the target location, so all devices can be connected to it without any hassle. In most cases inexpensive but high quality 5-port or 8-port unmanaged Ethernet switch can do the job perfectly.
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