I was asked by a client recently: “Can we use a splitter on one of our internet connections so we can have two computers plugged into one? We only have one internet port in that office, but I need to plug in two computers.”
With the old style analog telephone line we all have in our homes, it is easy to split a line multiple times. This is because only two wires are used for each line in a phone cable. Computer networking is far more complex. Eight wires are used within a single network cable. While it is sometimes possible to couple two networking cables together, it is not feasible to split the connection.
There are a couple of possible solutions to this problem though, and they are both pretty simple.
Solution 1: Network Switches
Network switches are used to connect multiple computers on a single network. If your goal is only to use a single network wall jack for multiple computers or devices, then a network switch should do the job. Most consumer network switches will automatically uplink to a parent switch so there is usually no configuration needed.
Solution 2: Network Router with Built-in Network Switch
Network routers are used to route internal traffic to another network (such as an internet connection). Most home routers (including wireless routers) have network switches built-in. What this combination of a router with a built-in switch provides is the ability to network several computers and share a single internet connection with them all. If your network router also supports wireless connections, then you can have a combination of wired computers and wireless computers on your network.
Is this legal? If you remember the days of legal issues when splitting cable TV, then you may be concerned with sharing your internet connection with multiple PCs. Unless otherwise specified by your internet provider, it is perfectly acceptable to share your internet connection with all of the computers in your home or office. Of course this doesn’t mean you can share your wireless with the whole neighborhood.