As technology continues changing at a rapid pace, it is vital that your cabling infrastructure keeps up whilst matching your business needs. Before you select your cable type, it’s important to consider if your company owns or leases the building. If you own, you’ll first want to determine your primary usage and technology speed requirements. If you’re leasing, it’s important to determine how long you’ll be staying or what’s enough for your company’s signature offerings.
There are various cables for different applications and distances, which is important to note, that the signal in most cables deteriorates as the distance increases. To choose the right cabling infrastructure, you’ll need to consider the cable’s function, distance, and network type. Even though wireless and cloud-based networks are taking over the IT infrastructure, private wired networks are still standard, especially for businesses.
Whether you’re wanting to install network cabling at a new construction building or if you need re-cabling at an existing workplace, you’ll want to be aware of the various types of network cables available in order to prepare for your business needs and requirements.
Types of Network Cables
Coaxial Cable. Coaxial cables have a single copper conductor in the middle and a plastic layer that provides insulation between the braided metal shield and that center conductor. Coaxial cabling is very resistant to signal obstruction, although it is rather complex to install. This cable can handle long distances between network devices than a twisted pair cable.
Fiber Optic Cable. Fiber optic cabling is becoming a gold standard for businesses that are reaching their bandwidth limits with Cat6. This cabling system is used to connect network segments, such as connecting buildings and floors, but not yet used for complete network wiring. Fiber Optic cabling can run just about anywhere because of its use of light rather than electricity to transmit signals. Because light meets very little resistance, you don’t have to boost the signal even over long distances.
Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) Cable. STP cable is a kind of copper telephone wiring used in business installations. An external shield is added to the normal twisted-pair telephone wire, functioning as a ground. This type of cable could be the choice for your business if you want to place it in an area with potential interference and risk to the electrical current in the UTP.
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable. UTP cables are generally the most used network cable for businesses as they are used for both conventional telephone and computer networking. The various schemes for UTP include:
Category 5 (Cat5). Cat5 cabling was standard in 1995 and is currently outdated and getting harder to find, yet if you’re still utilizing it and doing fine with your IT needs, there’s no need to upgrade yet. However, if you plan to expand into more advanced IT technologies, you may want to decide on upgrading.
Category 5e (Cat5e). Most building cabling nowadays is Cat5e, which became standard in 2001. It contains a copper cable that uses a new standard, reducing interference and increasing rated transfer speeds. This is the most common type of network cable since it supports speeds up to 1Gbps and typically costs less than Cat6 or Cat7 cables. If your network requires increased speeds now, or possibly in the future, then Cat5e may not be for your business since it has a bandwidth of only 100MHz.
Category 6 (Cat6). Cat6 cabling has been around since 2002 and is recommended if you own or plan to stay in your building. This cable supports the same speeds at Cat5e but gives you more than double the bandwidth. If your business uses PoE device, VoIP telephone systems, cameras, automatic door access, or WiFi, you’ll want to install a minimum Cat6 cable to handle the power required. The primary difference between Cat5 and Cat6 cabling is not only increased speeds but also reduced crosstalk, which increases errors among other issues.
Category 6a (Cat6a). Cat6a cabling has a greater specification designed to double transmit frequencies to 500MHz.This cable gives you a big jump in both speeds and bandwidth compared to Cat5e and Cat6 cabling. This cabling infrastructure supports full 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds without giving up 100 meters of cable length. Cat6 or Cat6a is recommended if you plan to upgrade or move to a new facility within the next 5-10 years as they suffice for transmission quality.
Category 7 (Cat7). Cat7 cabling is the latest generation of network cable available but has little to offer compared to Cat6a aside from a slightly higher bandwidth. This cable is designed for Gigabit Ethernet and offers users higher speeds with lower crosstalk. Most businesses have yet to update their hardware to Cat7 cabling.
While technology is constantly changing, your business’s cabling infrastructure needs to function at peak performance for the lifespan of your firm’s electronics and your next equipment upgrade. Cabling infrastructure planning is worth the investment in the long run and is vital for your company’s operations and profits. Every cabling infrastructure is different, thus time and expense vs. infrastructure performance should be considered.
At Ighty Support, we’ll ask about your current and future infrastructure needs, the type and number of devices you’ll be using, and the type of business data you’ll need to access. Our network cabling work consents to all statures, directions, and models. We’ll also focus on your video and security needs, wireless device usage, as well as your overall business’s growth plan. Our team of experienced IT professionals offers cabling infrastructure solutions for your business’s specific needs. Give us a call toll-free at 1-855-MY-DFWTECH or visit us at www.ightysupport.com for a free initial consultation.