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As long as you don't try to use anything past 100Mbps ethernet, it might work. 100Mbps ethernet and below only use 4 out of the 8 wires in a typical cat5 cable. The issue is going to be the quality and construction of the existing phone cable. cat 5 cables have specs for what pair of wires are twisted together, as well as how many twists per inch, etc. to reduce crosstalk and other types of interference. POTS phone lines make use of much less bandwidth on a phone line, so typical phone wiring is of a much lesser quality and really not suitable for the higher bandwidth/complex signals like ethernet uses.
Personally, I suggest you run new cabling suitable for ethernet. I'd use cat6a to support future upgrades,
althought cat5e is sufficient for most current applications.
Before I'd try converting phone lines to ethernet, I'd go wireless. No wires to run at all. Another wired alternative is to use powerline ethernet adapters. These adapters use your house's existing electrical wiring for networking, but it depend on how your house is wired, how good the cable is, etc.
I'd say wireless is the way to go here.
Thanks for the suggestions. The problem is, we live in a small Town Home and have restrictions on running wires. We just don't use the phone lines and I thought it would be an easy way to get the Internet in to another room. I was hoping to just change the the receptacles on the wall plates and use the existing wiring. I can completely diconnect the outside phone wires so there would be no outside lines.
Have you considered wireless?
I don't type fast enough
The second computer were connecting does not have a wireless card. I suppose I could put one in though. What's the easiest and most reliable wireless router & card to use? Both computers are older Dell's with XP operating sytems and 512 Meg of ram.
Personaly I like Linksys Wireless G Routers, and if you dont want to go through the hassle of opening up the computer, you can always install a usb wireless adapter, or if you feel comfortable with opening up the case, then a pci wireless card will work.
Any of the models from Linksys, Netgear, or D-Link will work just fine. The Apple Airport Extreme is also a good model, but it's tad pricey in my opinion.
I'm personally partial to the Linksys line. If you're budget minded and don't need gigabit ethernet support, I'd suggest the WRT160N. If you want to step up to faster ethernet, try the WRT320N or WRT610N models.
However, since you'll be going wireless, the ethernet speeds are irrelevant
Just make sure you've got the proper N/G compatibilty in a price point you're comfortable with. Linksys is probably the most popular brand and they are very dependable.
Thanks everyone for your replies, here's a link to the router I've chosen.