Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-10-10 Origin: Site
A Lan Cable, which stands for Local Area Network cable, is a type of cable used to establish a wired connection between devices within a limited geographic area, typically within a home, office, or other localized network environment. LAN cables are also known as Twisted Pair.
Twisted Pair, often abbreviated as TP, consists of two copper conductors enveloped by an insulating protective layer. These two insulated metal wires are intertwined in a twisted fashion, serving to counter external electromagnetic wave interference. The act of twisting these insulated copper wires together at a specific density effectively mitigates signal interference. As the wires transmit data, the radio waves emitted by each wire are counteracted by the radio waves emitted by the other wire. This is the origin of the term "twisted pair."
Twisted Pair (Lan Cable) are divided into Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) according to whether there is a shielding layer. The key distinction between these two: STP are encased in a metal material for shielding, while UTP are surrounded by insulating rubber. STP is more effective at reducing signal attenuation and minimizing noise, enabling longer cable lengths. UTP is lighter and easier to be installed.
Moreover, according to frequency and signal-to-noise ratio, Twisted Pair can be divided into CAT1, CAT2, CAT3, CAT4, CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6A, CAT7, and CAT8. The larger the type number, the newer the version, the more advanced the technology, the wider the bandwidth, and of course the more expensive the price.
The main network cables currently on the market are: CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6A, CAT7, and CAT8. CAT5 and previous network cables have been gradually eliminated by the market because of their low data transmission rates and their inability to meet the requirements of home broadband. In the following part, we will introduce these 5 cables and their applications.
"Cat5" is an abbreviation for "Category 5 cable," whereas "Cat5e" stands for "Category 5 Enhanced" or "Enhanced Category 5." Cat5e specifications provide a notable improvement in overall performance and faster data transfer speeds compared to earlier Cat5 versions. Therefore, it is the most common used type in today's society.
Cat5e achieves a bandwidth of 350 MHz, thanks in part to its stringent performance requirements that address issues like crosstalk (interference between wires), attenuation, and return loss. In practical terms, most users will be concerned with the internet speeds or data transfer rates that each standard can support.
The Cat5e cable specification specifies that it can transmit data over a wired connection at speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, or 1000 Mbps (equivalent to 1 Gbps, commonly referred to as Gigabit Ethernet). If your local network or incoming internet connection operates within the range of 10-1000 Mbps/1 Gb (also known as a 1000BASE-T network), Cat5e Ethernet cable can efficiently handle the required data throughput at full speed, without any loss or delay.
In terms of commonality, UTP Cat5e cables are more widely used in standard installations due to their cost-effectiveness and versatility. They are suitable for most networking applications where electromagnetic interference is not a significant concern.
Another less common type of CAT5e is FTP Cat5e. FTP Cat5e, short for Foil Twisted Pair Category 5e, is a type of Ethernet cable that combines the characteristics of Category 5e (Cat5e) cables with an additional layer of shielding. This shielding consists of a layer of aluminum or copper foil that surrounds the twisted pairs of wires within the cable.
The purpose of this foil shielding is to provide extra protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and external sources of signal interference. Although it is less common, we still need to mention it here because it is a good choice in situations where the risk of EMI is high, such as in environments with a lot of electrical equipment or potential sources of interference nearby.
Applications of CAT5e
1. Local Area Networks (LANs): Cat5e is commonly used for wired connections in homes, offices, and small businesses to connect computers, printers, and network devices.
2. Fast Ethernet (10/100BASE-T): Cat5e supports Fast Ethernet, making it suitable for networks with data transfer speeds up to 100 Mbps.
3. Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T): Cat5e can handle Gigabit Ethernet at shorter cable lengths (up to 100 meters).
Cat6 and Cat6A share several similarities. Both support speeds of 10/100/1000 Mbps up to 328 feet, comprise eight twisted copper conductors, follow TIA color code specifications, offer various jacket options for different installations, and feature an internal cross skeleton known as a spline. Moreover, they can be either shielded or unshielded.
However, the key distinctions lie in the tighter tolerances and construction of Cat6A cables. These cables are manufactured and terminated with greater precision, involving tighter twisting of copper conductors. This necessitates the use of higher specification patch panels, wall jacks, and RJ45 connectors.
Furthermore, Cat6A boasts a minimum speed of 500 MHz, enabling 10 Gbps transmission up to 328 feet. In contrast, Cat6's maximum speed is 250 MHz, limiting 10 Gbps to 165 feet, particularly in environments with significant cross talk. Additionally, Cat6A cables often employ thicker copper conductors and jackets, leading to more challenging installations and increased costs.
The labor costs for Cat6A installation are higher compared to Cat6. Cat6A cables are heavier and less flexible, demanding greater attention to detail during termination. If there's no in-house expertise for proper Cat6A installation, it's advisable to enlist the services of a network cabling contractor.
Applications of CAT6 and CAT6A
CAT6 serves various purposes:
1. Wireless Applications: In addition to connecting PCs and devices, Cat6 is suitable for establishing wireless connections. It's an ideal choice for residential use when connecting your wireless router to the ISP.
2. Power Over Ethernet (PoE): Cat6 cables with bare copper conductors efficiently transmit both data and electricity, making them perfect for powering devices like IP security cameras, walk-through metal detectors, and Smart TVs through a single cable.
3. 1000BASE-T Applications: Cat6 cables support 1000Base-T applications, which offer data transfer speeds of 1000 Mbps at distances of up to 100 meters. This standardized network is widely adopted in various settings, including homes, schools, hospitals, business centers, and offices.
Cat6A serves various purposes:
1. Data Centers: Cat6a's 10 Gbps speed is well-suited for data centers where servers and devices are closely connected, often within inches. Its reliable performance ensures minimal lag or glitches in this critical environment.
2. Wireless Applications: Cat6a is used to connect WiFi routers, establishing robust wireless networks. While the connections are wireless for users, the Cat6a cable ensures fast and uninterrupted data transfer from the ISP to residential and commercial buildings, both within and between structures.
3. Power Over Ethernet (PoE): Cat6a cables, featuring bare copper conductors, can transmit both data and power safely without overheating. This enhanced safety makes Cat6a a preferred choice for PoE applications where powering devices through the cable is necessary.
4. 10BASE-T Networks: Cat6a cables are built to support standard 10BASE-T networks, delivering data at speeds of up to 10 Gbps over distances of 100 meters. Many institutions worldwide rely on 10BASE-T networks, and Cat6a cables are the go-to solution for establishing these high-speed networks.
There is a CAT7 mark on the outside of the network cable. Its maximum transmission frequency is 600MHz, the maximum transmission rate within 100 meters can reach 10Gbps, and it supports 10G network. CAT7 have begun to be forced to add double shielding, which can better combat signal attenuation and crosstalk.
Applications of CAT7
Cat7 is widely embraced across various industries that demand high-performance networking and robust data transfer infrastructure. It's also gaining popularity among home enthusiasts aiming to maximize their system and network performance.
Common uses of Cat7(a) cables include:
1. Cat7 Ethernet Cables: These cables serve as the backbone connecting modems, hubs, and individual computers in networks of all sizes. They are used in diverse settings, from sprawling data centers and server environments to home setups where enthusiasts seek enhanced speeds and lower latency for gaming, streaming, and data transfers.
2. Commercial and Industrial Applications: Cat7 cables were initially developed for use in large-scale industrial Ethernet networks. They are engineered not only for high-speed and high-bandwidth requirements but also to withstand various environmental and mechanical challenges. This includes exposure to temperature extremes, UV radiation, moisture, and contact with solvents, oils, and chemicals.
3. Domestic Use: Cat7 cables have gained popularity among home users for a wide range of domestic LAN cable networks and connectivity setups.
In conclusion, LAN cables, such as CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6A, CAT7, and CAT8, play a vital role in the world of networking and data transmission. Each category offers unique characteristics and capabilities, making them suitable for various applications.
From the versatile and cost-effective CAT5e to the high-speed, future-proof CAT8, these cables enable us to establish reliable connections in homes, offices, data centers, and industrial environments.
Understanding the differences and applications of these LAN cables empowers us to choose the right solution for our specific networking needs, ensuring efficient data transfer and seamless communication in today's interconnected world.