How best to connect optical router to swich?

Jan 28, 2019
I have an optical internet cable that comes into my apartment and goes into an optical router from my internet service provider. It is made by Huawei (?) and has 4 Ethernet ports and also WiFi.

I have several devices which I want to connect both to each other as well as the internet, and have installed a wired network in my apartment (of Cat 6a ethernet cables) to connect everything together. The devices consist of things such as computers, smart TV's, and a gaming device. I require a total of 8 ports for all these devices - and I want them wired instead of using WiFi. They number 8 - this is 4 more than the ports the router has.

Due to security protocols in the supplied router, I cannot change it - they supply only 1 model, and I cannot supply my own.

The solution seems to me to buy myself a switch with *at least* 8 ports.
I want to have the best (and most future-proof) setup - but I'm concerned about the connection between the router and the switch; I have a massive (data-wise) pipeline coming into my router, but from the router only a 'normal' cable to the switch - *all* the data travelling between all of my devices to and from the outside world will pass along this cable connection between the router and the switch.

This seems like a bit of a waste of having the optical cable in the first place; this cable connection is the 'weak' link in the chain (it seems to me).

I've been reading about various switches and the functions they can support, and read about 'port aggregation' - if I understand this concept correctly, it means that I can effectively tell the switch something along the lines of, "See these 3 ports here - they all go to the same device (my router). Use them ALL - simultaneously - for maximum throughput!"

So (after all that!) my question is: Can I connect the router to the switch using multiple ports on both of these devices? And would I need port aggregation to do this? Are there any other implications of doing so?

Obviously if I use (for example) 3 ports on the switch to connect to the router - and I need 8 ports for my devices - I need a switch with more than 8 ports. I want to connect my devices to the switch only; the router should only be connect to the switch.

Please note - I'm not necessarily expecting to see any real-world, tangible benefit of having a 3-way connection to the router; it just bugs me that from the 'pipe' that comes into my apartment I will only be able to access a smaller portion of it - which seems a waste. That, and the fact that I'm spending time, effort and money to set this system up - I'd like something that will work VERY well, that is future-proof and that I can feel satisfied with (proud of). I'd like to make the best network system I can (within reason).

If you've read this far you will probably understand that my knowledge of this subject (of routers, switches and networking in general) is rather poor (even though my knowledge of computers themselves is satisfactory - I've researched and assembled all of my PC's myself).

I' hope I've explained myself sufficiently. All advice and info you can give me will be gratefully received!

OK, a big post and yet u never mention what exactly is MASSIVE? 10 gigabit service? 'cuz I don't get impressed by simply vendor quoting me "optical."

Your CAT6a (if they were wired correctly) are capable of 10 gigabits for short distance, surely a normal sized home. If u had them wired you already knew this I assume. So what's the constraint? where is the bottleneck?


Router->8 or 16 port switch->devices.

What speed do you pay the ISP for?
Anything up to actual gigabit speed, any typical unmanaged switch does that. And no "port aggregation".
A single ethernet cable from the router to the switch works.
You could use link aggregation (link bundling or port aggregation) if your router supports it.
Some routers might enable link aggregation over some of the ports only.

So if you get a switch you could connect two Ethernet cables from the router to the switch and enable link aggregation (LAG) .
And if your router has gigabits ports then you could double the bandwidth from the router to the switch and consecutively have more bandwidth available for devices connected to the switch.

I have a NETGEAR Nighthawk that supports it on 2 ports (1 & 2), so those 2 ports I have it connected to TP-LINK 12-port smart switch that also supports link aggregation.

Since you are not allowed to use a different router, then you should check the manual of your router to see if that feature is available and supported by your ISP.
You might not see any improvement, since some devices do not need such bandwidth. I don't know the models of your computers, smart TV's, and a gaming device but (theoretical) they all operate up to 1Gbps max. So it wouldn't matter how fast your network or internet speed was.

In you case I would go with an unmanaged switch and allow the router to handle and manage devices.

There are better secured routers than Huawei home 4-ports models, available even from the same manufacturer. Its not about security but control.

When it comes to technology, future-proofing could be foolish waste of resources, since we cannot be certain in which direction it will move.
It is better to upgrade depending on needs.
Almost all the huawei device they sell for optical fiber termination for home user is only 1gbit. Just because it is fiber does not mean anything really. They could run it at 10mbit if they wanted to.

The ethernet ports are also 1gbit so connecting it a switch will not slow you down. You still have 1gbit from the switch to the router and on to the ISP.

This assumes you are paying for gbit service. They can artificially limit the rate to anything they want once the data gets to their main office.
Jan 28, 2019

Thanks for your helpful and informative reply! To be clear - as long as *both* the router & switch support LAG, I can use more than 1 port on each to connect them?

So LAG must *also* be supported by my ISP - having it only on the router (and switch, of course) would not be enough?

Please forgive my ignorance, but why should the router manage my devices when they are all connected to the switch?

With regard to the router - my first option was to replace it with one of my choosing, with the features (and number of ports) I want. But unfortunately this is not possible - I *must* use the router supplied by my ISP (which I understand to have been custom-built for them - there are no optical routers on the local market, I was going to have one shipped to me from another country)

When I mention 'future-proofing', I'm thinking less in terms of keeping up with the latest and greatest in the available technology, and more in terms of things such as adding more devices to my home network, coping with any changes in my current internet contract or even of ISP, and the like.

The general idea is - I'm starting with a blank slate, a clean page. I may as well do the best job I can; there is no disadvantage that I can see for doing so. If I had an existing network I probably would not bother to upgrade anything just to use LAG. But I *must* buy a switch - may as well get a decent one that supports the functions I want. And then use them.
Link aggregation is old technology now days. If you really think you need more capacity you buy 10gig ports. The cost has come way down on 10g equipment.

Link aggregation is primarily used for a large number of machine accessing 1 central server. Because 802.3ad (link aggregation) selects the path mathematically without concern for utilization it does not load balance the traffic well. It also puts all traffic from a single session into the same path. This means for a single file transfer you can never exceed the speed of 1 link in the bundle.

Large corporation have pretty much completely abandoned LAG because of all the strange issue you would see and the availability of 10g and faster ports.

LAG is not the future 10g ports is the future in home networks. Problems is you must upgrade all your end equipment also to actually get the benefits

Just buy a 8 port 10/100/1000 switch for $35-$50 and toss it in the trash when you actually have the need for faster. You will likely save money because the cost of the 10g equipment will have dropped by the time you actually can use it.

No necessarily. it depends where you want to take advantage of the higher bandwidth. It could just be supported by the router.
Let say you have a switch connected to ones of the router gigabit port and you have several computers connected to the switch. The sum of all their data bandwidth request exceeds 1 gigabit.
There you will benefit from having a router that supports LAG. Instead of connecting the switch just to one gigabit port on the router, you could connect the switch to the router using two gigabit ports thus increasing the bandwidth available to devices connected to the router.
By the way, it doesn't matter how fast your internet speed could be if you just want to increase the bandwidth in your intranet.

Since your router could be remotely access by your ISP (firmware, updates, monitoring, etc), they could enable and disable features on the router without notice.

Yes, you could get an umanaged switch, which are best suited for home and small office use (as recommended by others). They come configured with manufacturer specification and you just needed to plug it and connect your devices to it and the router will take care of assigning IP addresses to your devices.

I understood.
But is not always plain and simple.
At work we do need a lot of bandwidth with more than 20,000 students without counting staff.
We moved from 4 Mbps Token Ring to 10 Mbps years ago and that moments many thought Token Ring will be the future, but Ethernet took over.
Recently, we upgraded some of the ports of our switches to 10 Gbps but we cannot take advantages of the speed in certain areas because CAT6 cable has a 55M reach. So now we're moving to CAT6A which is a not an easy task.

My point...there is always be something new.
You should make a plan with the hardware you have and what could be needed in a 5-year span.
There will be new tech coming out and when you need it then you could upgrade.