A few years ago, I installed a patch panel in my (parents) house. All of the phone lines in our house were run with CAT3 cable (pretty much the same as CAT5 but with fewer twists per foot, so the spec support less speed) so I am able to use them to run Ethernet throughout the house. When I first did it, I was new to this kind of thing. I've learned a lot since so I took the time to completely redo it and make everything look a little nicer.
Here is some pictures of the old setup:
Pictured above is a Leviton Media Patch Panel kit that includes a traditional phone line distribution system, CAT5 patch panels and a coax splitter (that I never used). The idea is that you can patch either a phone line or ethernet cord to any jack in the house. All of the jacks in the house should be Ethernet, that way allowing either phone or Ethernet to be plugged in. Just make sure you don't plug an Ethernet device into a jack that is patch to the phone distributor! The phone line has voltage that could potentially damage an Ethernet device.
The Leviton panel was great for a while, but as I am getting more and more cables to patch (we put an addition on our house last year and added a lot more Ethernet) it is getting to be more inconvenient. The 6-port patch modules are expensive and kind of tacky if you ask me. I decided I wanted to replace the whole thing with more of a traditional patch panel.
Enter Monoprice.com. Monoprice is an amazing place where you can get any kind of cables, adapters, home theater/home networking/home video supplies for CHEAP! You know that 25 foot HDMI cable you bought for $100 at BestBuy? Same thing on Monoprice for only $15.
I found a new 24-port CAT5e patch panel on Monoprice for about $17. You cannot beat that. After sitting on the shelf for a few months due to lack of time to install it, here it is with a new hole cut in the board:
Notice that I added a new board for the coax "tree". I'm very glad I did that, now it's all out of the way. One thing I like a lot more about this style of patch panel is that it hides all of the wires behind the board. Ends up looking a lot cleaner.
Next I have to wire everything up, mount the new wireless router as well as the modem, and install the new phone distributor. I didn't really take any intermediate pictures for this part, so here are some pictures after it is all finished!
The phone "distributor" is simply a splitter that you can buy at Radioshack or Lowes. It's just plugged into the Cable modem (Mediacom's phone service is through the cable modem) and it splits it into 5 ports. If you need more than 5 phone jacks in your house, just daisy chain another splitter. Now honestly, I'd much rather just drop the phone service. Who needs phone service when everyone in the house has cell phones? All it does is give telemarketers a way to reach you. But seeing as this isn't my house I can't make that decision. If a home phone line is necessary, I'd also suggest not buying through Mediacom or your cable company and just getting a cheap VoIP service like Vonage or Skype. Then buy Ethernet phones and you wouldn't have to worry about legacy phone lines at all.
You may notice the switches/routers on the right hand side and wonder what they are/why there are three. The black one on the bottom is an 8-port Gigabit switch and the two on top are routers/wifi routers with 4-port switches in them. Ideally I would get a 16-port Gigabit switch and do away with those three individual boxes, but it's just not worth the money when I already have something that works. the two older routers on top are not Gigabit, and I'm only using the switch function of them not the router. The new white wireless-N Gigabit router does all the routing and the rest is just LAN switch ports.
Well that's about it. I'm planning on selling the old Leviton panel, if you're interested let me know. Still works great, I just needed more patch panel ports.