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A Guide toBuying the Right Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables are becoming very important, especially for businesses, as they can deliver a faster and more stable connection to electronic devices. Ethernet cables can usually be found through retailers, manufacturers, and providers such as RS Components. However, with so many cables available nowadays, how can businesses pick the right one for their needs?In this article, we take a look at what factors businesses should consider when picking the right ethernet cable for them.

What are Ethernet Cable?

An ethernet cable is a specific type of network cable that is used for wired networks. More specifically, they are cords used to provide an internet connection to a device and allow users to connect to the local area networks (LAN) such as PCs, routers, and switches. They are usually made from copper wires. These cables typically help to enable fast transmission of information and high-speed data between devices.

Common types of Ethernet cables

Currently, there are a few different types of ethernet cables, and they are often classified by their maximum bandwidths and transmission speed. This is generally known as a category or ‘cat’. Some of the most common ethernet cable categories are below:

1. Cat-5

Category 5 cables generally have a data rate of up to 100 Mbps. This means it can distribute video, data and telephone signals at a distance of up to 100 meters. However, these cables tend to be slower when compared to other modern hardware requirements. So, only use this specific cable type if there is older hardware that demands outdated software.

2. Cat-5e

Cat-5e cables are one of the most popular ethernet cable types that are typically used for deployments due to their ability to support Gigabit speeds at a very cost-effective price. The cable can support up to 1,000 Mbps speeds, making it flexible to be used for small space installations. They are generally one of the cheapest cabling options that are available through providers, retailers, and manufacturers.

3. Cat-6

In comparison to Cat-5e cables, Cat-6 cables can provide greater data transfer rates and a bandwidth of up to 1 Gbps over 100 meters. These types of cables tend to be more tightly twisted, and they feature two or more twists per centimetres. That said, it only supports 37-55 meters when it comes to transmitting 10 Gbps speeds.

4. Cat-6a

Cat-6a ethernet cables tend to support a bandwidth frequency of up to 500 MHz. They are thicker when compared to Cat-6 cables, making them less flexible. This is why this specific cable type is more suited for industrial environments at a lower price point.

5. Cat-7

Cat-7 cables are shielded cables that can transmit up to 40 Gb at 50 meters, and 100 Gb at 15 meters. This specific type of cable offers a lot of shielding to decrease signal attenuation. These types of cables are typically found in large enterprise networks and data centres.

6. Cat-8

Cat-8 ethernet cables are now becoming more and more popular, due to their extremely high data transmission bandwidth and speeds. They can facilitate data transmission of up to 40 Gbps at 30 meters. They are designed for bandwidth-intensive data centre applications.

Check out: Network Automation: A New Approach to Network Assurance

Things to consider when buying Ethernet cables

1. Shielded or non-shielded

Shielding is an important factor as it is necessary when data is at risk of magnetic and noise energy interference. Therefore, if a business is setting up an ethernet connection in a high-interference environment, it should consider getting a shielded cable instead. On the flip side, if their data transmission is low or not a priority, then a business can consider getting an unshielded cable.

2. Cable length

Companies should pick an ethernet cable length that suits their specific needs. Longer cables tend to have slower speeds and can result in signal degradation, so it is vital to measure the distance of the cable to the device accurately. If a business needs a cable that can transfer data over a longer distance, it should pick one that has a higher maximum data rateto compensate for the transmission distance.

3. Solid vs stranded conductors

Solid ethernet cables tend to use one piece of solid copper for each conductor, while stranded cables tend to combine several intertwined wires. Solid cables should be used when there is little, or no movement expected for a cable to avoid breakage. On the flip side, stranded cables are more flexible and can be moved more frequently. This means they are usually used for patch cables, and they are less prone to physical cracks and breaks.

4. Compatibility

Companies need to make sure to check that the cable they purchase is compatible with their network equipment, such as switches, routers, and network adapters. Fortunately, most ethernet cables are backwards compatible, meaning they are compatible with older standards.

5. Certifications and standards

Companies should look for ethernet cables that meet certain industry standards and certifications. These include the TIA/EIA standards, which help to ensure the cable’s quality and performance. Companies should also check whether or not the cable supplier, provider, or manufacturer is certified and regulated by authorities.

Bottom line

Overall, ethernet cables are a fantastic way to provide reliable network connectivity in the workplace. This makes them essential to nearly every modern workplace environment. That said, with so many types on the market today, businesses must know how to pick the right one that suits their needs. This can include taking into consideration the cable’s performance capacity and bandwidth requirements before choosing one.

Check out: 5 Home Network Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

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