Types of Computer Network Cables and Connectors for Data Transmission
Ever wondered how data is transferred in huge data centers? Or how two or more computers can share information with a single printer? The answer is computer cables connectors!
Computer cables connectors are networking hardware that act as a transmission medium between two devices. They enable data transfering between two or more devices, ideally from source to destination. A structured network cabling system that connects servers, computers, and other appliances makes a strong foundation for businesses.
Although the world is advancing toward wireless technology, computer cables connectors remain a preference for small and large businesses.
There are a range of cables available for data transfers, so how do you know which is what?
Here, we’ll walk you through the 3 types of cables and connectors.
Coaxial cables date way back to the 1880s, when computer networks did not even exist. Also known as coax in common terminology, these cables and connectors were primarily developed for general purposes. Back in the days, they were widely used to connect television sets to the antenna.
In the beginning of the computer era, when there were no media cables and connectors to share information between two devices, coaxial cables were harnessed to build computer networks. It’s application as 10 Mbps Ethernet cable extended to the 1980s and 90s.
Coaxial cables consist of a copper conductor in the centre. It is surrounded by a plastic layer to provide insulation between the conductor and the braided metal shield. The shield prevents external interference from motors or fluorescent lights to transmit signals. The entire structure is sheathed to protect it from damage. Coax cables can be:
- Single-core - It uses single metal conductor
- Multi-core - It uses multiple strands of cables or wires
Coax computer connector cables are further divided into two different types:
- Thin, commonly called thinnet Ethernet or 10BASE2, where 2 measures the length that is 200 meters
- Thick, commonly called thicknet Ethernet or 10BASE5, where 5 denotes the maximum length that is 500 meters.
These connectors are highly resistant to signal obstruction and can support great cable lengths between devices. The only disadvantage is that it cannot bend, making it difficult to install.
Twisted Pair Cables
Developed in the 90s, twisted pair cables were primarily used for computer networks. Also known as the Ethernet cable, they are widely used at sites with the LAN network system.
They consist of a maximum of four color-coded pairs of cables, which are twisted together to minimize the electromagnetic interference from external devices. A strong twisting results in a better transmission rate with lesser interruptions.
The first twisted pair cable or ethernet was 10 mbps or 10BASE-T, also called Cat3. Improvements in the first version resulted in 100 mbps or 100BASE-TX (Cat5 or Cat5e) generating data transmission speed of 10 gbps or 10GBASE-T.
These cables and connectors of computers are further classified into two types:
Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables (UTP)
As the name suggests, the twisted pairs of cables are wrapped in a single outer jacket. UTP network cables are a preferred choice for several modern systems. They come in different forms that support a range of bandwidths. From Cat1 used in telephone wiring to Cat6 or 7 that support extremely high speeds of data transmission, these cables are used for various applications.
Shielded Twisted Pair Cables (STP)
In STP cables, the individual pair of wires are covered in an additional shield and then together they are covered in an external sheath. Like UTP, STP cables also help transmit data from low to high speed bandwidths. Shielded twisted pair cables are great for settings that have higher levels of potential interference or are located in extreme conditions prone to shocks and current.
They are a cheaper alternative as compared to other wiring and cables. STP cables are also easy to install and can survive harsh conditions.
Fiber Optic Cables
Unlike the above-mentioned computer cables connectors that use metal wires, fiber optic cables use glass strands. They transmit data using light instead of electrical signals, eliminating the issue of electromagnetic interference.
Despite having a glass core, they are bendable and enable signal transmission over longer distances as compared to coaxial or twisted pair cables. They’re primarily used in wide area network installations that require long distance cable runs or in buildings where data traffic is higher.
Fiber optic are available in two types:
Single-Mode Fiber Optic Cables
These cables transmit a single beam of light, which makes it more reliable and suitable for long-distance and high speeds. A single mode of light makes communication faster and smoother.
Multi-Mode Fiber Optic Cables
A multi-mode fiber optic cable transmits multiple wavelengths of light. The cable carries a larger amount of data as compared to the single-mode fiber optic cable and is used in areas that require short-distance data transmission.
These modern range of fiber optic cables provide several benefits. Apart from high speed transfer without interference, they have a longer life cycle. In comparison with copper cables, they are a cheaper alternative for wide lengths and are lightweight. They are thinner so they easily fit in smaller dimensions.
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