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There are three types of ethernet cables commonly used in local area networks: the twisted pair, coaxial, and fiber-optic cables. Twisted pair cable is the most marketable; the fiber-optic cable use in networking performance is quite accelerating. Coaxial cabling is crucial for an available internet connection. Below is the detailed analysis showing the benefits and downsides of ethernet cable types.
What Are the Different Types of Ethernet Cables?
Different types and categories of ethernet cables (see 'Best Ethernet Cable' review) connect different devices giving a significant impact on your internet connection speed. Let's dive into network cable types for businesses, homes, gaming (see this post) and other general outfits.
Twisted Pair Cabling
These are the ethernet cables that you will find as you connect your computer to your router or modem to have internet access. Rj45 connectors connect the computer interfaces onto an ethernet-based local area network.
Another cable plugs into your computer's network interface card, and the other end plugs into the network port of your router's switch or modem, depending upon what you're using. Twisted pairs come into three different types.
Unshielded Twisted Pair(UTP)
Unshielded twisted pairs are by far the most common type of cable used today. UTP cable consists of four pairs of color-coded wires twisted around each other.
The wires in twists prevent electromagnetic interference or reduce crosstalk; this type of network cable is what most people use in their homes or businesses.
Shielded Twisted Pair(STP)
STP is very similar to UTP, except that it has a foil shield that covers the wires. The foil shield adds a layer of protection against EMI leaking into and out of the cable.
STP ethernet cable is mainly used for industrial purposes and not so much in a home or business. The common twisted pairs used in a LAN are straight(patch) and crossover cables.
Straight or Patch Cable
A straight(patch) ethernet cable allows signals to pass through from end to end because both ends of the cable wiring use the same standard. Straight or patch is the type of cable commonly used on a LAN. Straight cabling connects different devices.
A crossover ethernet cable is also used on a LAN but not expected as a straight cable. When creating a crossover, cable wire ends using two different standards. They connect two similar devices.
Foiled Twisted Pairs
FTP cables are constructed and designed with a twisted pair or multiple twisted pairs of cores having a shield around the assembly. The foiling into twisted pairs helps in the reduction of crosstalk and EMI.
Foil screening copper wires provide a total cover in the cable cat, leaving no gaps. Unlike foil screening, braided screening supports better mechanical protection. The following schema shows cables that support different options;
- U UTP is flexible to keep CSA to minimum large containment requirements.
- U FTP; the screening inside it minimizes crosstalk. Primarily found in high-frequency cables like cat 6a.
- F UTP; shielding the entire cable encompasses all four pairs under one overall screen.
- F FTO lacks braiding, making it less flexible, but screen abilities are not compromised.
The outer cover of a coaxial cable has a PVC or fire-resistant plastic called a sheath. The braided shielding reduces electromagnetic interference or EMI of the metal. Underneath the shielded metal is PVC or Teflon insulator. The central metal core is the copper conductor.
Coaxial cabling carries high-frequency electrical signals with low losses. Its use in telephone systems, high speeds in computer data buses, cable TV, internet bandwidth, and ethernet is rampant. The thinnet and thicknet cabling types have maximum frequency transmission of 100 Mbps.
There are hundreds of specifications, but most coaxial cable types use radio guide(RG) numbers. Each type serves different purposes; RG-6 coaxial cable is typical at home if you have cable TV or cable internet. Ohm is the rating of coaxial cables for their impedance or resistance.
Coaxial Cable Connectors
- British Naval Connector(BNC); Impedance ranges from 50 ohms to 75-ohm specification versions, making the connector used in high-frequency test equipment.
- N Connectors; are capable of carrying microwave-frequency signals.
- Subminiature (SMA) connectors; often used in high-frequency microwave and Wi-Fi systems.
- F-type connectors; connect the cables to the modem if you have TV or internet cables.
RG-6 cable typically gets terminated with F-type connectors.
Coaxial Cables vs. Twisted Pairs
- Compared with twisted-pair cables, coaxial cables carry signals much further distances and are better shielded from crosstalk.
- Twisted pair cables provide a much higher transmission than coaxial cables. For instance, cat 6e and cat 7 twisted pair cables can carry up to 10 Gbps.
- Coaxial cables are highly resistant to signal interference, but they are more expensive and more complex to install than a twisted cable type.
- Twisted pair cables are flexible and used on ethernet networking and telephone systems.
Fiber-optic cables offer significant throughput than copper wires, such as coaxial cable or twisted pair cable. Optical fiber is maybe single-mode or multimode.
The fiber-optic outer layer(insulating jacket), made of PVC or Teflon, protects inner components. Buffer, the second layer, encapsulates one or more optical fibers protecting from physical trauma.
The layer that shields the fiber core (cladding), reflecting light to the core in patterns that vary depending on the transmission mode. Cladding does not absorb light like a mirror; the light can travel long distances. The center core allows light to travel at higher frequencies.
SMF carries light with a single-mode; the light wave travels in the same way or same pattern, giving out a single ray of light. It exhibits a couple of features;
- High transfer rates with high speeds
- The core diameter is about 9 microns
- Laser-generated light travels over one path
- Light does not disperse as signal travels
- Can carry signals many miles before repeating
- Better for long-distance, such as WAN connection
- Internet backbone
- A yellow patch cable
Multimode Fiber Cable(MMF)
MMF is mainly used to convey communication over a short distance. As light travels through the cable core, light waves disperse into numerous paths. MMF can use multimode links for data rates up to 100Gbps. It features;
- A larger core diameter than SMF
- LEDs or lasers generate light pulses at different angles
- More significant attenuation than SMF but with a modal distortion problem
- An orange color patch cable.
Benefits of Fiber-Optic Cables Over Copper Cabling
Categories for Ethernet Cables
Several ethernet cables are available for telecommunication and other networking applications. You can figure them out like different versions. These cables will typically work as the new versions are backward compatible. Below is the ethernet category data;
Recommended for standard telephone wiring.
used for 4Mbps network ring
category 3 employs networking frequencies of up to 16Mhz
this type of ethernet cable is significant for networks carrying frequency up to 2oMhz
frequency in category 5 rates up to 100 Mbps, 100 meters maximum, and 100 Mhz bandwidth. It has a lower speed and is less reliable compared to the new types. Cat 5 cable is obsolete and not recommended for new network installations.
frequency in this category is at 1 Gbps, 100 meters, and also 100 Mhz. It is a result of improved specs regarding twisting of wires, shielding to reduce crosstalk. Cat5e uses four twisted pairs, unlike category 5 cable, which has only two.
category 6 has a rating of 10 Gbps, 250 Mhz at 55 m, making it a relatively long ethernet cable. Cat6 cabling is tighter than Cat5 and Cat 5e and has braided shielding to protect wires inside the ethernet cabling.
category 6a is also capable of 10 Gbps, 100 m distance, and 500mhz.
category 7 has 10gbps with 600 Mhz
category 8 release provides a huge fast ethernet to access points. Cat 8 is more expensive than other versions below it.
What Is the Difference Between Cat 5 and Cat 6?
Cat 5 ethernet cable will handle speeds of up to 100mbps, frequency of 100Mhz, while Cat 6 handles 1000mbps(1 Gbps), frequency of 250Mhz. Cat 6 is a gigabit ethernet cable; the improved braided shielding prevents the twisted ethernet cables from crosstalk interference.
Cat5e ethernet cables are used primarily on homes with already built-in networks. The benefit of cat5e over cat 5 ethernet cabling is that it has a better hand to prevent crosstalk as it handles high speeds.
Cat6 handles Gbps ethernet speeds just like cat 5e but at better frequency broadband of 250Mhz. Cat5e and cat6 differ in twists per cable type; Cat 6 having more makes its performance higher.
How Do I Know Which Ethernet Cable to Buy?
Generally, using a wide ethernet cable over Wi-Fi prefers fast speed and low latency. Wi-Fi technology and hardware have been advanced over decades but have ethernet.
If speed is what you are looking for on your home internet connection, purchase ethernet cables with a gigabit such as these top options for PS4, that will not delay you. When working on a slower connection, you're fit with ethernet cable types running from cat5 to cat 7.
As our home networks run from Mbps ethernet to Gbps, facilitating faster network speed, more advanced cables are needed to take control. It is recommended that you use the most recent versions of Ethernet cable types to optimize network performance. Perhaps an ethernet cable guide is available to ensure that the connection is thoroughly understood.