Data network cables are the backbone of any network infrastructure, connecting computers, servers, switches, and other devices to create a seamless network. There are various types of data network cables, each with its own unique characteristics, capabilities, and uses. With the growth of technology and the increasing reliance on network communication, it is important to understand the various types and how each data network cable can be utilized to meet the needs of different applications. This article provides an overview of the different types of data network cables and their uses, helping you to make an informed decision when selecting the best cable for your network infrastructure.
A coaxial cable consists of a central conductor, usually a copper wire, which carries the signals being transmitted. Surrounding the central conductor is a dielectric layer composed of an insulating material that possesses precise electrical properties. The dielectric layer is, in turn, encased by a shield layer made of either metal foil or braided copper mesh. The entire structure is finally covered by an insulating jacket.
The outer shield layer of the coaxial cable is typically grounded in the connectors at both ends to protect the signals and serve as a destination for any stray interference signals to disperse. The combination of these components results in a cable that can transmit data over long distances with minimal interference, making it an ideal solution for residential communication. Coaxial cables are a popular choice for transmitting television and telephone communication data to homes.
Fiber Optic Cables
Fiber optics, also known as optical fiber, are slender strands of glass that have a diameter similar to that of human hair. These fibers are bundled together to form optical cables, which have the ability to transmit light signals over long distances with remarkable speed. The light signals, carrying encoded data such as what is displayed on your computer screen, originate at one end and travel through the optical cables. At the other end, the light signals are decoded to reveal the original data.
Various kinds of fiber optic cables are available, typically combined in different arrangements depending on the intended use of the cable.
Single and Multimode Fiber
Single mode fiber is the most basic form of fiber optic cable, featuring an extremely thin core that allows signals to travel straight down the center without bouncing off the edges. This type of cable is frequently employed in internet and telephone applications, with the single mode fibers being clustered into a bundle. Multimode fiber is approximately 10 times larger than a single mode cable, and light beams travel through the core along various paths or modes. This cable type is not intended for long-distance data transmission and is therefore employed mainly for linking computer networks over short distances.
Flame and toxicity regulations must be observed in certain situations when installing cables. Plenum cables adhere to these requirements and can be safely installed in air plenums, which are building components that aid in heating and cooling. The jacket of plenum cables incorporates specialized materials that shield the cabling from heat, moisture, and fire.
Simplex and Duplex Optical Fiber
Simplex fiber optic cables consist of a single strand of thin glass, and are utilized in scenarios where only one-way transmission is necessary (transmitter at one end and non-reversible receiver at the other end). Duplex fiber optic cables, on the other hand, feature two strands of glass and are used in situations where separate transmission and reception are needed.
Twisted Pair Cables
Twisted pair cables are predominantly utilized in computer networks and telecommunications and are typically found in commercial businesses with large network infrastructures. These cables feature two individually insulated wires that are twisted together and run in parallel. This design helps minimize interference that can occur when data travels through the cable, particularly as networks grow more extensive and intricate. In fact, this cable type is the most widely used for local area networks.
When considering cable installation services, it is important to make a well-informed decision in order to avoid any potential regrettable investments. It is advisable to carefully evaluate both your current needs and long-term requirements prior to making any decisions. The type of network being utilized will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your choice of cabling.
Several technical considerations related to your current infrastructure must be taken into account. These include the maximum distance between your network switches and the farthest device from them. You will also need to assess the bend radius and the available space for running cables through the ceiling and floor, as well as whether any abandoned or existing cable needs to be removed. Additionally, electromagnetic interference or EMI needs to be considered.
Category 7 cabling is a high-performance form of cabling specifically designed for Gigabit Ethernet with a capability of delivering efficiency of up to 600MHz. This type of cabling is an ideal choice for both smart homes and businesses that seek the highest standard of performance available. Unlike the previous versions, such as CAT 5 and CAT 6, CAT7 cabling has several unique features that make it stand out. One of the primary reasons for selecting CAT7 is that its twisted pairs are shielded, providing improved noise resistance when compared to other solutions. Although CAT7 may come at a higher cost, the investment will result in an excellent return on investment, as it provides superior efficiency for years to come after installation.
CAT6 offers a cost-effective and convenient solution for most households. It provides several benefits, such as backward compatibility and meeting most household requirements. CAT6 is relatively simple to install and more affordable compared to CAT7. However, CAT6 cabling sometimes pulls cool air through cracks in ceilings and causes carbon monoxide backdrafts, which can be a disadvantage.
CAT5 cabling is also a viable option for those seeking cost-effective solutions. CAT5 and its updated version, CAT5E, have been around for quite some time, with the latter being introduced in 2001. Typically consisting of 24-gauge wires, CAT5E can support Gigabit networks for up to 328 feet. CAT5E is backward compatible with CAT5, enabling its use in any application where CAT5 would typically be employed. However, CAT5 cabling is starting to phase out and be replaced by CAT6 and CAT7 cabling.
Fibre Optic Cabling
Fibre optic cabling provides high-speed data transmission capabilities that are unparalleled by traditional copper cabling. Unlike copper, fibre optic cables transmit data through light, which allows for lightning-fast internet connections with the capability to handle much higher bandwidth. Studies have shown that even during periods of high demand, fibre optic providers are able to deliver speeds that exceed their advertised rates.
Tips to Avoid Problems
Improper cabling installation can lead to many issues and disrupt your daily routine. For instance, network downtime can affect employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Poor cabling can also result in slower data transmission rates. Critical data and applications may take longer to load, causing frustrating delays. To avoid these potential problems, seek the advice of experienced professionals who can provide guidance on selecting the right cables and installation methods.
A few simple steps can avoid common problems and ensure that your network operates smoothly. Here are some tips to keep in mind when installing a network data cable:
1. Cable Length
Ensure that all cable runs remain below 90% of the maximum distance allowed by each media type, such as copper, fiber, and coaxial cables, as outlined in the relevant standard. This additional headroom should account for the patch cables that will be necessary for establishing an end-to-end connection.
2. Dedicated Telecommunication Room
At least one dedicated telecom room is recommended on each floor of a building where all cables serving that floor are terminated. If you have a spacious floor, multiple telecom rooms could be a wise option to ensure efficient cable management. This approach offers several benefits, including improved cable performance due to shorter distances, which also makes it easier to troubleshoot and diagnose issues. It also simplifies any future changes or updates, as modifications can be made to a specific floor without affecting the entire building. This approach can save time and costs associated with reconfiguring the entire cabling infrastructure.
Maintaining proper documentation is a crucial aspect of any cabling installation project. Obtain a completed diagram, floor layout with label identifications, cable types, and patching information as part of the close-out submittal process. Once obtained, the as-built display should be prominently displayed. Any changes made should be recorded for future reference. Accurate records of the installation, maintenance, and repair of your cabling infrastructure ensure that any issues that arise can be quickly and efficiently addressed.
4. Test and label everything
Conduct end-to-end testing of all cables during the installation process and again upon completion. This step will assist in identifying any issues and ensure that all cables are working properly. If any cable is relocated or terminated after testing, it is important to retest them to ensure that they continue to function correctly. This approach will minimize the risk of network downtime and other potential issues that can arise from faulty cabling.
5. Label cables
Labelling your data network cables can make it easier to identify them and troubleshoot problems in the future. Label each cable with its purpose, location, and any other important information.
Upgrade your network cabling with Keydence Systems
Upgrade your network infrastructure with Keydence Systems, the premier network cabling provider of structured fibre optic cabling in Singapore. Our high-quality data network cables are the standard for fast and reliable data communications, with a protective outer cover for added durability. Trust us for expert installation and maintenance services to ensure smart connectivity and seamless wireless transmission for your business.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more about our data network cable solutions. Our knowledgeable team is always available to answer any questions you may have and help you choose the right product to meet your needs.