Purchasing Ethernet cables can be extremely overwhelming and complicated with all of the different type of patch cables. There are patch cables for short connections, long length connections, CAT5E, CAT6, fiber optic cables, shielded wires, etc.
You will need to find a cable that has features that meet your individual needs and your particular installation environment.
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Network Cable Categories
As the number increases, the capacity of the cable increases as well.
CAT5 Screened Twisted Pair (SCTP) – adds shielding to the UTP for additional protection from electrical interference, especially when network lines are run near electrical lines or equipment. Usually only used in Europe.
CAT6 -Newest cable type that provides the best performance, especially at high data speeds. CAT6 cables have a separator between each of the four twisted pairs which reduces crosstalk between channels and doubles the bandwidth over CAT5 cables. Capable of supporting 10 gigabit Ethernet (10,000Mbps).
All cables are not forward compatible meaning you can’t used a CAT5 cable for an application that needs a CAT6 cable. However, all cables are backwards compatible, meaning a CAT6 cable can be used for CAT5 applications.
UTP (Unshielded ) vs STP (Shielded) Twisted Wire Cables
Twisted pair cables protect data against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI).
Unshielded cables are often grouped into sets of 25 pairs and are used for telephone, computer and video applications. STP cables are recommended for use in “noisy” environments in order to keep data in its original form.
Solid vs Stranded Patch Cables
Stranded patch cables are made up of multiple wires, each of which has several strands of small copper wires within the insulation sleeve.
Solid cables have one larger gauge wire within each sleeve. Solid cables have better electrical performance than stranded cables and have been used for years inside walls and through ceilings.
First, you should use UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) solid cables for runs between two wiring closets or from the wiring closet to a wallplate. Solid cables should not be bent, flexed or twisted repeatedly, especially if the wires are unshielded.
Second, you should use stranded patch cables to connect to workstations to the wall plate with patch panels and other equipment including hubs and hosts. Stranded cables are perfect for applications that require repeated flexing.
Third, attenuation is higher in stranded cables than in solid conductor cables because of a smaller diameter. In other words, stranded cables lose more signal voltage. Keeping this in mind, stranded cable runs should be minimized to reduce the chance of introducing more attenuation into the system. Does not transmit data signals as far as solid cables.
-If it is a permanent installation such as in the walls – used SOLID CABLE
-If it is going to get moved, such as from the wall to the computer – use STRANDED CABLE
Fiber cables have some advantages over copper cables. Fiber cables have the ability to move massive amounts of data at very high speeds without EMI/RFI interferences. Nor do they have crosstalk problems. They are compact, secure and maintain data integrity over great distances. Fiber optic cables usually comes in pairs: one fiber for data transmission and the other receiving. Duplex cabling is common within fiber networks and consists of two fiber strands molded together.
Fiber optic cables are offered in two basic styles:
Single-Mode- used for long distance, high-capacity voice applications like telephone transmissions. Also used in new long-distance gigabit networking applications.
Multi-Mode – is the computer industry standard for data applications, especially most local area networks (LANs).
What makes Fiber Optic Cables so special?
The heart of the fiber cable is the glass fiber itself. The glass strand (the Core) is surrounded by additional covering or coating of glass (cladding). Light pulses of data travel down the cable within the core, while the cladding reflects errant light waves back into the core. Fiber optic cables can also have a Tight Buffer/Loose Buffer.Tight buffers are a break resistant plastic coating directly on the glass itself. Indoor fiber cables are tight buffered. Loose buffers permit expansion and contraction of the cable without damage to the optical fiber, making these cables perfect for outdoor applications.
Fiber is described in specific diameter terms with micron measurements. For example, 62.5/125 means the cable has a core diameter of 62.5 microns and an overall diameters of 125 microns (combing core and cladding).
Last, fiber optic cables include strength members to increase the durability of the cable. These members are primarily for indoor installations which allow the cable to support itself during installations and while hanging. Strength members consist of outer jackets which typically consists of either plenum or PVC. PVC is mainly used for outdoor or external cabling while plenum is required for cabling through walls and airways.
Outdoor cables can have additional strength members such as corrugated steel armor for protection against rodents and below-ground hazards.
- Fiber Optic Cable Installation: Soaring Demand for High-Speed Internet Will Sustain Industry Growth (prweb.com)
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- Optical Fiber and Cable Manufacturing in China: IBISWorld Report Now Updated (prweb.com)
- Top 9 Cabling Stories of 2011 (electriduct.com)
- Google Begins Hanging Fiber Optic Cables in Kansas City (pamil-visions.net)