Depending upon technical specifications, there are multiple types of networking cables including Twisted Pair, Coaxial, Ethernet, and fiberoptic. Not all of these cables are interchangeable, that is they are best suited for specific purposes and each should be deployed to meet specific networking goals. Therefore, those who are interested in buying networking cables are advised to read this article before making a final investment.
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Networking cables are used to connect computers and networking devices in a network. Networking cables are deployed to relay important data, set up servers, and operate the devices which are essential for running business applications. Cables can be used externally to plug for plugging computers into internet modems or grounded portals and they are also built into walls along with electrical wiring to provide ready access to the internet.
Types of Networking Cables:
The most popular networking cables used nowadays are of three kinds:
- Coaxial Cables
- Twisted Pair Cables
- Fiberoptic Cables
Coaxial cables are high-frequency transmission cables that comprise solid copper as an inner conductor surrounded by foam insulation, symmetrically-wrapped woven braided shield, and plastic jackets. The inner conductors carry electrical signals and the shielding designs make sure that data is transmitted rapidly without any interference from environmental factors. Some features of Coaxial cables have been discussed below:
- Coaxial cables are very resistant to signal obstruction and metal shields protect networks from outside interferences from fluorescent and EMI (Electromagnetic Interferences) and OBI (Optical Beat Interferences).
- Coaxial cables are easy to install, maintain and operate. They don’t warrant sophisticated tools, precise alignment, and other demanding infrastructure and skills. Furthermore, coaxial cables can be expanded easily and if damaged, can be repaired easily by the homeowner or network administrators without any requirement of fusion splicing or splice enclosure which are required by Fiberoptic cables.
- These networking cables are resistant enough to withstand rugged working conditions. They can resist cut-through, crushing, and bending.
- Most importantly, coaxial cables can support high-bandwidth transmission in comparison with Twisted Pair cables and perform exceptionally well for short-distance transmission.
- Downsides of coaxial cables are also many. They are bulky and less pliable which makes it hard for the network administrators to deploy them, particularly, if the coating is thick, the situation gets more complicated. The signal leakage, speed fluctuation, and inability to transmit data at longer distances are also some drawbacks. Therefore, coaxial cables are preferred by home/ home offices and by those firms that don’t require a larger network infrastructure.
Twisted Pair Cables
This is also a popular networking cable solution that is being deployed by homes and business-based Ethernet networks. Twisted Pair cables contain four pairs of insulated strands of copper wires inside the lining of the cable. Each pair is twisted further into additional twists for protection against interference from the other devices and the stoppage of electromagnetic radiation. This arrangement of twisted pairs helps increase the reliability of the network and makes sure that network failures remain minimum. Like Coaxial cables, twisted pair cables are also being used for running various applications and meeting different purposes like telephone lines, Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), and Local Area Networks.
Categories of Twisted Pair Cables:
- Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables(UTP)
- Shielded Twisted Pair Cables(STP)
Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables(UTP):
UTP cables generally consist of wires and insulators but they don’t include foil or braiding as insulators, resultantly, they don’t provide much protection against crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. But, UTP has been the most popular option for Ethernet installation. They can support high data transmission rates of up to 1 Gigabit per second(Gbps). UTP cables are easy to install and troubleshoot. But one critical downside is that they cannot be deployed for long-distance data transmission. After 100m, one needs to install repeaters for carrying forward the data.
Shielded Twisted Pair Cables(STP):
STP cables are provided with aluminum foil around the conductors for improving the cables’ abilities to resist noise and signal interference. Though STP cables are expensive and difficult to scale, they provide better protection against signal interference in comparison with UTP cables. They are also used for providing grounding as well.
Categories of Twisted Pair Cables On the Basis of Speed:
Depending upon the speed and number of twists, Twisted Pair cables are divided into multiple categories abbreviated as “cat”.
Cat 1 and Cat 2 Cables:
These cables have maximum data rates of 1 Mbps and 4 Mbps respectively. Cat1 don’t support data transmission that’s why they were used exclusively for telephone lines. Cat 2 is used for the Token Ring network and it does not support a high transmission rate. These categories are no longer used extensively.
Cat 3 Cables:
Cat 3 is the network wire and is capable of 10 Mbps data up to 100m distance. Cat 3 is the minimum cable specification for 10 Base-T Eth