What are ethernet ports? Overview of their functions in your home network

Ethernet connects your devices in your home or business to the internet. You receive a modem from your Internet Service provider. From this modem, you can run cables to your WiFi (for a wireless connection) or devices (for a wired connection).

What are ethernet ports for in your house and wall?

To connect your modem with the rest of your devices, we use ethernet cables. To connect the cable and your devices, you need a port. Essentially this is a piece of metal where your ethernet cable clips in. It creates a connection between the cable and the device. This allows you to connect your WiFi, printer, computer, TV, gaming console, or other devices to the internet.

To insert a cable in an ethernet port, you just have to push it in. Often there is a small pin that will disengage and lock the cable in. You can only connect cables that have been designed for this (eg ethernet cables). You can break a port if you try to connect other cables to it so be careful. You can test a cable using specialized devices. This makes sure that there is no issue with the ethernet cable that you try to connect to the port. These cables can break if you fold them too tightly or bend them too much.

To remove a cable from a port, you have to push the small pin and then pull the cable. This pin is often made out of plastic so you have to be careful when you push it. Don’t use too much force as you can break it. Push it deep enough though so that it fully disengages. When you install these Ethernet wires in your home, you have to be careful that you don’t damage the electricity or plumbing.

Some people also have a switch in their network. This allows them to split the signal of the cable over multiple devices without having to run a cable from to modem for each of these. This makes it easier to install the network. The switch has multiple ports that can be used to run a cable through your home. You have to make sure that you connect the cable to the right port as it is possible that some ports have different functions. Consult the manual of your internet switch to see what your device can do. An Access Port allows you to connect your devices to the internet. A Trunk Port is a port that connects your modem to the Internet, this means that it communicates with data centers that are located all over the world. There are also hybrid ports that can communicate with your devices and the data centers. You have to pick the right port when you want to install the ethernet cables in your home. If you don’t do this, your Internet connection won’t work. 

It is possible to use software to open ports and close them. Sometimes ports are closed and you are not able to access certain websites. This is often done to make sure that your computer or network stays safe. It is possible to open these ports but this is for advanced users only as it can create a lot of problems. Do your research before you start to configure ports on your network as it can lead to internet issues. 

If someone gets access to your ethernet ports, they can gather valuable information such as which devices are connected to the network and how they are connected. This can lead to security issues. This is why companies often store their switches and modems behind closed doors so that visitors can’t access them. In your home, this is probably less relevant as the information that you have there is less valuable. You still have to think about what devices you plug in your ethernet network to whom you give access to your ports. 

Types of ethernet ports

There are different ports that vary based on the internet speed that they provide, their function, and the structure of the network. They are often labeled on the switch or modem. The manual of your device often provides more details. Most home networks are fairly simple but company networks can get really complex as they might have to connect thousands of devices in a safe way.

Below are some common ethernet ports that are used:

-RJ45 Port: this is the port that we generally use to connect devices. Most switches have several of these, bigger switches can even have more than 10 of them.

-SFP and SFP+ Port: these are smaller and provide high speeds over copper wires. The SFP 28 Port is an evolution of this port.

– QSFP28 Port: This is created for high-speed networks.

– PoE Port: This port provides internet signal and electricity. This can power some devices that need both and makes it easy to install them.

We have discussed Access and Trunk ports before. As you can see, there are several ports and they are still evolving. As we see more people getting access to fiber internet, we can expect that people will have to upgrade their switches to get the best internet connection and speeds. Ports will probably evolve in the coming years as more advanced software is being developed so that we can upload and download files faster. Some ports also make it easier to install new devices.

This will be essential once we start to move to the Internet of Things where more and more devices get access to the internet. Some people argue that this will mainly happen through wireless networks such as 5G or Starlink but wired internet connections will still have their place for the foreseeable future.

To conclude, we can state that Ethernet ports allow you to connect devices at home with each other through an ethernet cable. These Ethernet cables can then connect with the modem of your Internet provider. This model gets access to the internet.

Some ports can be closed for security reasons and you have to think twice before opening them. Some people specialize in making sure that companies are secure and that their ethernet system runs smoothly.

There are alternatives to ethernet cables as well if you don’t want to install ethernet in your house.