What Are the 4 Types of Network Cables?

different types of network cables

There are many different types of network cables, but not all of them are created equal. In fact, there are 4 types of network cables that you’re likely to encounter most often. Here’s a breakdown of each type and what it’s best used for.

Network cables have the end goal of connecting one network device to another – for example, two computers – and also connecting such devices to a local network. Also known as ethernet cables, they are divided into several categories within four main network cabling types.

What is Network Cabling?

Network cabling is the process of connecting devices to an Internet source. For network cabling to be effective, one can pay attention to the length of the cable, the shielding, the cable’s data rate, and where it will be installed.

The data rate (or speed) allows network cables to transfer millions of data per second. This speed depends on the purpose of a cable (if it is installed in a commercial building or at home). Network cables can come in extensive lengths and thick shieldings that protect the cable conductors from EMI or external factors. In commercial buildings, installed network cables are fire-rated and plenum-rated.

The Different 4 Types of Network Cables

Network cables can be divided into four types: coaxial, shielded twisted pair (STP), unshielded twisted pair (UTP), or fibre optic.

1. Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cables contain a centre conductor and a metal shield insulated by a plastic layer placed in between. The metal shield in coaxial cables blocks any elements or interferences from the outside.

In a coaxial cable, the outer layer, known as sheath, protects the cable from physical damage. Meanwhile, the metal shield protects the cable from any external interference, and the insulation between the metal shield and the conductor protects the conductor – the core of the coaxial cable.

Coaxial cable conductors carry electromagnetic signals and can come either in single-core or multi-core models. While a single-core coaxial cable has only one central metal, multi-core cables have many metal wires.

Coaxial cables were used in the earlier days of computer networks.

2. Shielded Twisted Pair Cables

These ethernet cables, also known as STP cables, are widely used for business installations. They were developed for computer networks and are an excellent choice for areas with high interference. Shielded twisted pair cables are also used to expand any distance between cables.

STP cables consist of coloured wires twisted around one another, forming pairs. Usually, shielded twisted pair cables are composed of four colourful pairs of wires wrapped with metal shields and a singular plastic sheath.

3. Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables

Unshielded twisted pair cables, or UTP cables, are widely used in industrial computers and telecommunication companies. The conductors present in UTP cables form a circuit that stops any EMI. Similarly to STP cables, unshielded twisted pairs are colourful wires wrapped around each other and then wrapped altogether in a plastic sheath.

When compared to STP cables, UTP cables are more affordable.

4. Fibre Optic Cables

Fibre optic cables are networking cables that contain either a glass or a plastic core, shielded by a cladding, a buffer and a jacket. These layers protect fibre optic cables from potential damage and from external interference. This networking cable is the perfect choice for carrying data around long distances and the standard cable for connecting networks in different locations.

Fibre optic cables can be single-mode fibre or multi-mode fibre. SMF cables support longer distances, while MMF cables carry more data.

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The Different Categories of Network Cables

Each network cable type works with one or more categories. These categories provide efficient and better results for different cable types and are divided into eight segments:

  • Cat1 – category one cables are used for wire telephones and modems. Unshielded twisted pair cables are the most common cable type in this category.
  • Cat2 – this category was widely used in the 1980s for telephones and ring networks.
  • Cat3 – in the early 1990s, category three cabling were ethernet cables composed of four twisted pairs of wires. They can be commonly found in older buildings.
  • Cat4 – this cabling, like Cat3, is commonly seen in old buildings. It was used for token ring purposes.
  • Cat5 – Category 5 cabling was introduced in the mid-1990s with a fast ethernet potential. It was used for its high speed and resistance.
  • Cat6 – category 6 provides a more significant data transfer rate than Cat5. It is used in commercial buildings that require extensive Gigabit ethernet. In 2009, Cat6a was introduced as an augmented version of Cat6.
  • Cat7 – this cabling provides a more potent core infrastructure. The Cat7a refinement is capable of transmitting 40 Gigabits.
  • Cat8 – category 8 has its conductors wrapped in foil, allowing higher data rates.

Contact Tevelec for Your Network Cable Supply

Looking to upgrade or install reliable wiring solutions for your project? Look no further than Tevelec, Canada’s leading wire and cable distributor.

Our comprehensive range of products, including LVT (Low Voltage Thermostat Cable), Low Voltage Cables, FT6 and Plenum Cables, Fire Alarm Cables, Mini Split Cables, Multi Conductor Cables, Soow Cables, AWG MM2, High Temperature Wires, and FT4 Cables, ensures we have exactly what you need for any application.

Whether you’re working on residential, commercial, or industrial projects, Tevelec provides high-quality, durable wiring solutions that meet all your requirements. Don’t compromise on safety and efficiency.

Choose Tevelec for all your wire and cable needs. Visit our website today to learn more and make your purchase!

To know more about how we can assist you, check our wire and cable product catalog here or reach out to us at (905) 624-5241.

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