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Ethernet Cabling – The Backbone of Every Workplace

Posted In Products Review - By Techtiplib on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 With No Comments »

There are few workplaces that are not reliant on computers, printers and the dissemination of digitally stored data. The backbone of the workplace is the Ethernet cabling infrastructure through which all data has to travel. You may have a wireless network in place, but at some point your internal network will be reliant on the good old CAT 5e and CAT 6 cabling. 

What is CAT 5e and CAT 6?

CAT 5e and CAT 6 are categories of ethernet cables, and between them they are the backbone of most home and business digital networks. Ethernet is a family of technologies that emerged in the very early 1980s and was adopted and standardised as early as 1985. If there is one drawback with the twisted pair Ethernet cable, it is the limitations placed upon it because the twisted pair cables are made from copper. 

This was never really an issue in the early days of Ethernet and small localised networks, but as networks became physically and geographically larger with more peripherals attached, size did become an issue. The maximum length of Ethernet cable in any run is one hundred metres. Anything over this distance  will increase the risk the risk of signal degradation exponentially.

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Limitations

Because of the limitations that are placed on data transfer over physical networks, repeater stations are required at least every hundred metres in a local area network. These repeaters may be hubs or switches, which are able to boost the signal at each jump point. Strategically placed and spaced, switch rooms are an essential element of modern network topographies.

Although there are limitations placed on network designers, CAT 5e and CAT 6 cabling is cheap to produce and, therefore, cheap to buy, thereby keeping the cost of installing and maintaining network infrastructure low. Take a look next time you are at your workstation or at home, and chances are you’ll find one length of network cable somewhere, even if you have a Wi-Fi router.

Superseded?

Copper twisted pair network cable will, at least for the foreseeable future, be an element of network infrastructure. Although it is true to say that modern buildings are now being designed to accommodate data networks using the latest wireless technology, for every one building that is designed this way, there are a thousand that are already standing.

It will be a long time before the cabling is superseded, and while it is capable of transmitting data, voice and video simultaneously, it is doubtful why there would be any reason to change a current network set-up. Unlike Wi-Fi and fibre optic, the only items needed to expedite a repair are a crimping tool, a CAT 5 plug connector and a little blood, sweat and tears.

Graham Green is a freelance writer and blogger who has undertaken the CISCO recognised Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) syllabus,  and as a result has spent many captivating hours installing, configuring, making, fault finding and fixing Ethernetcable connections.

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