Knowing that there are multiple types of data cables with different uses might be a little off-putting if you’re not an IT expert. But, we’re here to help, explaining the different types of data cables, and when they’re best used. We’ll also detail the speeds and distances you can expect from some of the different types of data cables.
So, what are the different types of data cables? There are three main types of data cables; Twisted Pair, Coaxial Cable, and Fiber Optic. Each cable transmits information in the form of binary electrical communication signals between systems. The type of data cable you need will depend on your environment.
Read on to learn more about the different types of data cables, and when to use them.
What are the Types of Data Cables?
Hence the name, Twisted Pair cables consist of two copper wires twisted throughout the cable. One wire is the signal carrier, and the other is a ground reference. The twist protects the communication signals up to a length of around 300 feet.
Twisted Pair cables are most often used in telecommunications and in computer networks.
A Coaxial Cable consists of a central core conductor, hosted inside an insulator. They carry signals at higher frequencies than Twisted Pairs and are commonly used in digital telephone networks and television communication data transmission.
Commonly used for fast internet connections, Fibre Optic cables transmit data via a light channel with two parts; core and cladding. Whilst Fibre Optic is not susceptible to signal degradation, the cables are fragile and require a unique plug and network cards.
What is the Most Common Type of Cable Used in Networking?
For networks, the Unshielded Twisted Cable is the most common and generally is the best option for LANs. Although, in some environments, the Shielded Twisted Pair may be more appropriate.
That being said, more and more networks are switching to wireless LANs for its numerous benefits; mobility, fast set-up, cost, and expandability.
Network Cabling Options
There are a range of options for network cabling, each with its own advantages and benefits depending on your environment;
Cat5e is the cheapest and most readily available data cable type for networking. With data speeds of 1 Gbps for a 100M distance, it is a cost-effective option for PCs, laptops, and printers.
Cat6 data cables are an improved version of Cat5e, with better quality data transmission as a result of thicker copper cores and a central alpine that offers reduced cross talk and improved bandwidth.
Like Cat5e, Cat6 still offers 1 Gbps for 100M but is also capable of 10 Gbps for up to 55M. Because of this, and reduced costs in recent years, Cat6 is now the go-to option for new data cabling installation.
Cat6a, or Cat6 Augmented, is an upgraded version of Cat6. It is considerably thicker, heavier, and more expensive than other data cable types, and requires special care during installation, however can run at 10 Gbps for 100M, allowing for much faster speeds.
Cat6a is a great option for those looking to future-proof their network.
Fibre Optic is used where copper cabling is not suitable, such as;
- Where cable connections between data cabinets or devices are over 100m away
- Where very high speeds are required
- Where high bandwidth is required
- Where interference from metal-based cabling must be eliminated
Most mid-range network switches can use Fibre Optic channels without the need to replace equipment; they can be added alongside a traditional copper data cable network.
Data Cabling and Network Cabling at 777 Networks
At 777 Networks, we specialise in delivering professional data cabling installations in Leeds and across the UK, ensuring that your network is as effective as possible from the get-go. All of our data cabling work is fully tested to ISO/IEC Standards using the latest calibrated equipment and is fully warrantied for 100% peace of mind.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements.