This article goes over ethernet cables, network cables and how they work. We also have Marc our project specialist who works with a ton of network cables or all sizes and shapes. Marc prefers to have a neat server room and the proper colour coded cables.
But you might just have one cable hanging out of your ceiling. We are going to help you identify what type of cable you are using and find out if its able to carry the fastest network speeds and allow for the best work or home browsing experience.
Depending on where you work and how your IT infrastructure is setup, your network does control the speed of which you can access certain files. If you store your companies’ files on a server to allow access to certain team members, maybe it’s an Office 365 server, maybe another type. But your ethernet port and that thin blue cable carries that connection. If you don’t have a strong one it could limit the amount of work, you can get done. Having the fastest network speed is important.
Let’s talk about the different types of cable: If this sounds boring to you, feel free to watch Marc talk about it in the video above. He is far more entertaining then reading about it.
To understand cables, you must understand a little bit about how we measure internet connectivity and data speeds.
Checkout this table:
|Category 1||1 Mbps||0.4 MHz||Telephone and modem lines|
|Category 2||4 Mbps||4 MHz||LocalTalk & Telephone|
|Category 3||10 Mbps||16 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||10BaseT Ethernet|
|Category 4||16 Mbps||20 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||Token Ring|
|Category 5||100 Mbps||100 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||100BaseT Ethernet|
|Category 5e||1 Gbps||100 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||100BaseT Ethernet, residential homes|
|Category 6||1 Gbps||250 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)|
10Gb at 37 m (121 ft.)
|Gigabit Ethernet, commercial buildings|
|Category 6a||10 Gbps||500 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||Gigabit Ethernet in data centers and commercial buildings|
|Category 7||10 Gbps||600 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)||10 Gbps Core Infrastructure|
|Category 7a||10 Gbps||1000 MHz||100 m (328 ft.)|
40Gb at 50 m (164 ft.)
|10 Gbps Core Infrastructure|
|Category 8||25 Gbps (Cat8.1)|
40 Gbps (Cat8.2)
|2000 MHz||30 m (98 ft.)||25 Gbps/40 Gbps Core Infrastructure|
This table shows the different speeds of the different cables, the most common ones you’re going to see in your home are Cat 5 and Cat 5e. We shorten the word Category to “cat” just to keep things easy when talking cables.
Depending on the speed of the cable, that is how its going to perform, but something to understand is that the entire worlds networks aren’t up to Cat 8’s standards yet. Most office and home networks run Cat 6 which is still very fast. One day the world we be up to an internet and data transfer speed that we will be able to blink and a webpage load. But the world isn’t there yet. Patience young padawan.
Ethernet cables are great for a hardwired internet connects, for reliable speeds. Laptops can connect to Wi-Fi easily. But it might not be as fast or reliable then hardwiring your computer into a network.
Making sure that it is a safe and reliable network is a very important. Before just plugging in any old ethernet cable to your computer make sure that you know who in control of the network and make sure its also password protected!
Marc goes over a bit more detail about how cables work, he opens them up and talks about the number of twists in the cable, what you must know is the more twists a cable has the faster it is. This is related to math of course. This is known as the Common-mode rejection ratio. Explaining this is very complicated and requires an understanding of math, which as the person authoring this article doesn’t have. We suggest looking more into studies in electronics and math to understand this ratio. But again, what you must know is it makes your internet faster! We like to let the science and math people handle the ‘back end’ of this conversation.
What’s the main take away from Network Cables?
Know that hardwiring your laptop, computer, whatever is always going to be better than Wi-fi. A stable strong connection is not through anything wireless. Surely the pandemic has taught us all that. As crazy as it sounds running a network cable through the walls of your home, or along the baseboards might not be a bad plan. Especially if you are working from home and joining virtual meetings all day.