Ethernet cables have been part of our lives for years now. Today they have taken space in our homes, offices, studios, and many such places.
They are our medium of connecting with the world. But, we know only a little about them.
Often, these cables come free with the equipment which uses Ethernet connectivity in some or other way. So, we don’t have to learn more about them but there are various types of Ethernet cables that are available in the market.
To name a few: crossover cable, cat 5 cable, cat5e cable, Cat 6a cable, Cat 7 cable, and many more.
These network cables are useful to connect various network devices such as Ethernet switches, routers, computers, servers, etc. to the gadgets we use. Any device which has an Ethernet interface can connect to Ethernet cables.
Let’s understand the basics of these cables:
The long Ethernet cable for connectivity in offices or homes rely on the twisted wire pair cables; Cat 5, Cat 6, and Cat 7 use this format.
Twisting the cables together enables the current to balance i.e. in one wire the cable is moving in one direction and in another, it is moving in the opposite direction. This makes it easy for the data to travel long distances.
There are four different types of shielding available for Ethernet cables:
U/UTP – Unshielded cable, unshielded twisted pairs
F/UTP – Foil shielded cable, unshielded twisted pairs
U/FTP – Unshielded cable, foil shielded twisted pairs
S/FTP – braided shielded cable, foil shielded twisted pairs
Where: TP = twisted pair, U = unshielded, F = foil shielded, S = braided shielding.
Further, there are differences between the Ethernet cables like cat 5, cat 5e, cat 6, or cat 7 as some of them can be solid or stranded wires which are useful within the cables. When we are installing the long cable, it is important to know the type suitable for your application.
There are two types of cables available. They are:
Stranded Cables: This type of wire is flexible and is very useful for Ethernet cables because they make it easy for the wires to move. They are often useful for general connections to PCs, desks, laptops, etc. as in such areas we expect movements.
Solid Cables: They are durable and useful for permanent installations. These types of cables are useful for installations under floors, walls, or ceilings.
There are various types of cables available for Ethernet and other telecommunications and networking. These network cables are available in different categories. Some of these cables have recognition from TIA (telecommunication industries association).
Cat 1: They are useful for standard telephone wiring or ISDN, etc.
Cat 2: TIA does not recognize this type of cable. They are useful in a 4Mbit/s token ring network.
Cat 3: It is useful for data networks and employee frequency until 16 MHz. It was a go-to 10Mbps Ethernet network but today Cat 5 cable replaced it.
Cat 4: They are useful for a network carrying frequency up to 20MHz. They are often useful for 16Mbps token ring networks.
Cat 5: This type of network cable is useful for 100Base-T and 1000 Base-T networks as it provides performance and allows data transmission at the rate of 100Mbps or more. Cat 5 cables use twisted pairs to prevent internal crosstalk and also crosstalk for external wires.
Cat 5e: This form of cable is recognizable by TIA. It has a slightly higher frequency specification in comparison to Cat-5 cable. Cat 5e cables look similar to Cat 5 but the data transmission rate is higher.
Cat 6: it provides a significant improvement in performance in comparison with cat 5 and cat5e. They have an outer braid shielding and protect the twisted pair of wires inside the Ethernet cable. They help prevent crosstalk and noise interference. They support a speed of 10Gbps but their limit is only till 55 meters.
Cat 6a: The “a” in Cat 6a stands for “Augmented.” The revision of this standard happened in 2008 and supports twice the maximum bandwidth. They are capable of maintaining high transmission speed.
Ethernet cables have been a part of our evolving lives for ages and they are here to stay. They are one of the most convenient and the fastest ways to access the internet. Having at least the basic knowledge of these cables is necessary as we use them every day in our daily lives.
There are many reasons why companies prefer Ethernet cables. But, above all the most important factor is reliability which they bring along.