Cabling systems differ from company to company, enabling organizations to acquire the technology they need to run their business efficiently. There are several main types of network cables used in these systems, including coaxial cables, fiber optic cables, shielded twisted pair (STP) cables and unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables.
The type of network cable installed dictates the speed of data transmission and the level of bandwidth that a company can leverage to support growth. Today, more businesses are demanding higher amounts of bandwidth, and therefore have a greater need for cables.
Many businesses do not give their network cable selections a second thought, but these cables are more important than most people think. Does the conference or training room require fast internet speed? Is the business in the manufacturing industry and requires industrial-grade cables with an outer sheath that is rated to resist extreme temperatures or exposure to hazardous materials? These are critical factors to consider when choosing business network cables.
What Exactly Are Network Cables?
Network cables are designed to connect and transfer data between computers, storage area networks, switches and routers. They act as a carrier for data that allows information to be transported quickly and efficiently. Network cable wires are often manufactured from copper or glass and last an average of ten years. Choosing the best cabling infrastructure for a business’s unique needs can help save time and money.
Business network cables are broken down into several main categories, ranging from category 1 (Cat1) to category 7 (Cat7). Each of these cable categories varies in characteristics and frequencies, making them the right choice for certain applications. Here is a look at how certain types of network cables are used by businesses today.
- Cat 1 – Contains two pairs and is used for voice transmission in the telephone network.
- Cat 2 – Contains four pairs and is used in the token-ring network.
- Cat 3 – The first Ethernet cable used in LAN networks.
- Cat 4 – Used in advanced token-ring networks.
- Cat 5 – Used in advanced LAN networks.
- Cat 6 – Used as a plastic core to avoid cross-talk between twisted pair cables.
- Cat 7 – Uses multiple twisted pair cables and protects each pair with a plastic sheath.
Coaxial cables are commonly used by internet providers, telephone companies and cable operators to convey video, voice and data. These cables have been around since the early 20th century and provide a reliable and accurate transmission of data.
What makes coaxial cables so popular is their shielded design. The cable’s copper core quickly transmits information without outside interference. Coaxial cables are available in several sizes with the most common being RG-59, RG-11 and RG-6. RG stands for “radio guide” and the associated number represents the cable’s diameter.
A coaxial cable consists of an inner conductor with an insulating layer surrounding it. That insulating layer is then covered by a conductive shielding or an outer insulating jacket. Electrical signals flow throughout the central conductor which is typically made of copper-clad steel.
Fiber Optic Cables
Fiber optic cables are a type of network cable that contains strands of glass fibers within an insulated casing. These cables were created to accommodate high-performance, long-distance networks. Compared to traditional wired cables, fiber optic cables deliver a higher bandwidth and possess a greater ability to transmit information over long distances. Today, fiber optic cables are used for the bulk of modern telephone, internet and cable television systems.
There are many advantages to choosing fiber optic cables. These cables support a high capacity that can exceed what a copper cable of a similar thickness can carry. Fiber optic cables are also able to travel long distances without losing their strength, resulting in a reduced need for signal boosters. A fiber optic cable is also less likely to suffer from interference due to its physical properties. Fiber optic cables are generally rated at 10, 40 or 100 Gbps.
Shielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables
A shielded twisted pair (STP) cable is a type of copper telephone and local area network (LAN) cabling commonly used in business installations. This type of network cable contains an outer covering that acts as a ground to standard twisted pair wiring. STP cables are commonly used in Ethernet networks.
Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables are also a type of copper cabling used in telephone and local area network (LAN) installations. This type of network cable has no metallic shield and is small in diameter. However, unshielded twisted pair cables are unprotected against electrical interference.
Schedule A Network Installation Consultation
Deciding between the different types of business network cables available can be challenging. If your business is ready to install a new cable network system, the experts at SeaGlass Technology can help. Reach out to our team of experienced IT professionals today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.