About a week ago we upgraded from Xfinity 1GB internet to Fidium 1GB fiber. They had only finished laying the fiber throughout our town this past summer and knowing what they were doing I was pysched to finally be able to kick Comcast to the curb (we had dropped TV and phone service a few years ago). Installation took no time at all and after two appointments — one for the outside of the house, and one for inside — we thought we’d be ready to rock.

We have three floors to the house. My wife’s office is on the second floor, the living space is on the first, and my office is in the basement. The Fidium hardware consists of one router and two wireless “pods”. The router lives on the first floor, and each other floor received one pod each. My wife is content with the wireless connection from her pod, but in the basement, I ran into an issue: my desktop PC is not wireless, and I have a home server down here which also doesn’t have wireless.

As the pods have ports for ethernet, I had the idea that maybe I could run an ethernet cable from the wireless pod to a switch and break it out between my PC and the server. While this did work, I ran into a situation which stumped the Fidium tech support crew: I was unable to download files. Making matters weirder, I could stream from YouTube, Spotify, and Netflix.

My stop-gap solution was to add a VPN to my PC which somehow managed to allow me to download but being “somewhere else” stymied my ability to reach certain locations on the Internet. I had to face the facts: I would have to drop an ethernet cable from the living room to the basement, meaning I would have to cut into the wall and hopefully fish a cable through an existing hole where power cables are threaded.

Thankfully, my friend Mindstrike pointed me to a video talking about “ethernet over coax”.

How did I not conceptualize the existence of this? Coax is damn near ubiquitous in US homes younger than a certain age, and we got fiber to replace the coax cable modem we had been living with for years. There might not be exact speed parity between coax and ethernet, but coax should be fast enough to carry a decent signal. The only question is: does this work?

The answer is a resounding “hell yeah it does!”.

I picked up the ScreenBeam system mentioned in the video because it had a few thousand recommendations on Amazon. It’s about as easy to install as you’d expect: connect one box between a coax port and the router’s ethernet port, and the other box between a coax port and whatever you want to connect to the Internet.

Of course, as we had cut the cord years ago, our coax network is otherwise dormant. There are instructions for using with coax that is still in use, but it’s 2022 and unless your household is married to live TV, chances are you’re in the same boat as I am.

I don’t have a screencap of my desktop speeds before I switched to this ethernet over coax, but I do have one from after.


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