Networking Cables Types & Buying Guide

Networking Cables Types & Buying Guide

Networking cables are used for connecting network devices to each other or with shared devices. Understanding the types of networking cables and their functionality is important before installing them.

There are following three major types of cables used for communication.

  • Twisted-pair Cable
  • Coaxial Cable
  • Fiber Optic Cable

Factors to Consider

  • Types of cables (twisted-pair, coaxial, fiber optic cable) and their uses.
  • Connectors required

Types of Networking Cables

Twisted-pair Cable

Twisted Pair cable

In twisted pair cables, two conductors are twisted together for cancelling out electromagnetic interference from external sources. Many types of twisted-pair cables exist in market. The only difference between their types is the twist rate. The twist rate is also called pitch of twist.

These cables was used primarily for telephones, now commonly used for computer networking due to their flexibility and low cost.

On the basis of twist pitch twisted-pair cables are grouped in four types:

  • ScTP (screened twisted pair)
  • STP (shielded twisted pair)
  • FTP (foiled twisted pair)
  • UTP (unshielded twisted pair)

UTP cables are majorly used in telephone systems and Ethernet networks. Twisted pair cables are used in networks because of their low cost. UTP cables are also being deployed in video applications and for security cameras.

Common Industry Abbreviations

Industry acronyms

ISO/IEC 11801 name

UTP

U/UTP

STP, ScTP, PiMF

U/FTP

FTP, STP, ScTP

F/UTP

STP, ScTP

S/UTP

S-FTP, SFTP, STP

SF/UTP

FFTP

F/FTP

SSTP, SFTP, STP PiMF

S/FTP

 

Code before slash designates shielding for the cable while code after slash designates shielding of individual pairs.

U = unshielded

F = foil shielding

S = braided shielding

TP = twisted pair

TQ = twisted pair, individual shielding in quads

Twisted-pair Cables Types

Name

Construction

Bandwidth

Applications

Level 1 0.4 MHz Telephone and modem lines
Level 2 4 MHz Older terminal systems
Cat.3 UTP 16 MHz 10BASE-T and 100BASE-T4 Ethernet
Cat.4 UTP 20 MHz 16 Mbit/s, Token Ring
Cat.5 UTP 100 MHz 100BASE-TX & 1000BASE-T Ethernet
Cat.5e UTP 100 MHz 100BASE-TX & 1000BASE-T Ethernet
Cat.6 UTP 250 MHz 10GBASE-T Ethernet
Cat.6a U/FTP, F/UTP 500 MHz 10GBASE-T Ethernet
Cat.7 F/FTP, S/FTP 600 MHz Telephone, CCTV, 1000BASE-TX, 10GBASE-T Ethernet
Cat.7a F/FTP, S/FTP 1000 MHz Telephone, CATV, 1000BASE-TX, 10GBASE-T Ethernet
Cat.8.1 (In Development) F/UTP 1600-2000 MHz Telephone, CATV, 1000BASE-TX, 40GBASE-T Ethernet
Cat.8.2 (In Development) F/FTP, S/FTP 1600-2000 MHz Telephone, CATV, 1000BASE-TX, 40GBASE-T Ethernet

 

Advantages

  • Low cost and flexibility
  • Minimized cross-talk
  • Electric noise can be prevented
  • On the same line more line can run

Disadvantages

  • It requires direct peer to peer connections

 

Coaxial Cable

Coax_cable

Coaxial cable conducts electrical signal using an inner conductor (solid copper) surrounded by an insulating layer and all covered by a shield, typically one to four layers of metallic braid and metallic tape. The cable is protected by an external insulating jacket.

Applications

  • used as transmission media for radio frequency signals
  • connects radio transmitters and receivers with antennas
  • used for computer network (Internet) connections
  • distributes cable television signals

Types of Coaxial Cables

  • Hard Line: used in broadcasting and other forms of radio communications.
  • Radiating: used in US Navy Ships, elevator shafts, underground transportation tunnels and in other areas where an antenna is not feasible. This cable provides tuned bi-directional leakage effect between receiver and transmitter.
  • RG-6: This able is available in 4 different types, Plain, Flooded, Messenger and Plenum cable.
  • Tri-axial cable: Triax coaxial cable comes with third layer of shielding and coating. The outer layer is earthed which protects inner layer from electromagnetic interference.
  • Twin-axial cable: It is a balanced, twisted pair cable with cylindrical shielding. It provides safe passage for differential signals.
  • Semi-rigid: This coax cable is formed with outer sheath of solid copper. This cable is used for higher frequencies.
  • Rigid line: This coax cable is formed with two copper cables. It is used between high frequency transmitters and RF components.

 

Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber Cable

Fiber optic cable uses plastic or glass fibers for transmitting data. Data transmission rate of fiber optic cable is much higher than coaxial and twisted pair cable. For long distance installation fiber optic is used.

Advantages

  • High data transfer rate
  • High resistance to electromagnetic noise
  • Multimode and carries more channels
  • Used for phone, televisions and computer networks
  • Less signal loss than other cables

Disadvantages

  • High cost of cables and connectors
  • Experts required for installation of fiber cables

Conclusions

  • For networking PCs in small office use CAT 5e / CAT 6 / CAT 6e UTP network cables. For running telephone lines use CAT3 cable.
  • If you want to expand use business in future, use CAT6 cables that supports up to 10Gbe.
  • Only buy shielded network cable for extreme environments installation.
  • For higher speed requirement, use Fiber Optic cable.

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