6 Types of Network Cables, What They are Good For, and How to Use Them
Network cables are an essential part of any data cabling system. They are used to connect computers, servers, printers, and other devices on a private network or a Local Area Network (LAN).
A network cable is essentially a set of conductors (copper wires) encased in an insulating material (typically PVC). The cable has
connectors at either end to allow it to be plugged into different devices. The type of cable you use will depend on your environment and the distance between devices.
Different types of cables are suited for different situations and have specific properties that make them suitable for certain applications. There are several different kinds of network cables available today.
Let’s take a look at them.
1. Coaxial Cable
Coaxial cable is the most common type of network cable. It’s been around for decades and billions of feet of coax have been sold for use in telecom networks and video cabling. The cabling in the coax is divided into two conductors.
Copper foil is woven around an insulating material called “polyethylene” (or PE) and then enclosed in a conductive shield made from a material called “aluminum-foil-poly-ethylene” (or AL-PE). This material is used
because it resists the flow of electrons well. The PE is used to insulate the two conductors from one another and to ensure the AL-PE shield doesn’t oxidize (and therefore lose capacity).
2. Twisted Pair Cable
Twisted pair cables are most commonly used in Ethernet networks. However, they are also used in some telephone networks and the premises cabling of computer networks. The name comes from the process of creating the cable, which involves twisting two insulated copper wires together to reduce electrical noise.
This is done to ensure that the signal is received with as little interference as possible. Traditionally, twisted pair cables were either unshielded or had an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) construction. More recently, cabling engineers have begun to use a shielded twisted pair (STP) construction. This is done to protect against outside interference and crosstalk.
3. Fiber optic cable
Fiber optic cable is commonly used in the outermost parts of a Local Area Network (LAN). This is because it has a very high data transmission rate and operates on a single fiber strand, minimizing the chances of a break or breakage.
A fiber optic network uses a combination of light and a special type of cable to transmit data. Using light rather than electricity allows the network to transmit data at very high speeds with very low error rates.
Fiber optic cables are made from two types of materials: Normal strength glass (NSG) is used for cable that is less than 2 kilometers in length. For lengths that exceed 2 kilometers, the cable is made from Silica glass (SG). Both types of cable are enclosed in a flexible plastic sheath.
4. Ethernet Cable
Ethernet cable is a type of twisted pair cable that is used for LANs. It is not designed for long-distance transmission and is generally used for distances of up to 100 meters. It is often used in offices with a centralized network hub. The twisted pair cable used in Ethernet is surrounded by an insulating material.
This is often made of polyethylene (PE). Because Ethernet cable is used in a Local Area Network (LAN) where there may be large amounts of electrical interference, the cable is shielded with a metallic conductor.
5. USB Network Cable
A USB network cable is a special type of Ethernet cable that allows two computers to be “networked” using a single Ethernet cable. It is often used in offices to “net” two computers together and share printers or files.
Two computers connected with a single USB network cable are said to be “networked” over a “crossover” cable. The twisted pair cable used in a USB network cable is surrounded by an insulating material.
6. Wireless Networking
If your data is being transmitted wirelessly, the type of network cable you use doesn’t matter. In this scenario, your device will be transmitting data via radio waves. Normal strength glass (NSG) is often used for wireless communication devices because it has excellent resistance to breakage.
The type of network cable you use depends on how far away your devices are from each other. If you want to transmit data over a long distance, you will need to use a cable that has a low impedance and a low resistance. If you want to transmit data over a short distance, you need a cable that has a high impedance and high resistance.
You can use a few simple electrical properties to determine which type of cable is best suited for your device.
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