Steve Duckett

Steve Duckett

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ethernet cable..What kind do I use??

Almost anyone who has connected to the Internet through a broadband connection (like cable or DSL) has used an Ethernet cable to do it. You have connected your PC’s network interface card (NIC) to your cable modem, DSL modem, or home router with an Ethernet cable.  Because of the commonality of this, if I say “use an Ethernet cable” you have a picture of a cable in your mind. However, you should know that there is more than one type of Ethernet cable.

Types of Ethernet cabling

To start off with, you should know that not all Ethernet cabling is the same.  If you go to a store you may find a variety of “categories” of cabling. These categories tell you the quality of the cabling.  The quality determines, essentially, how much the cable can handle.  Here are the categories that you need to know:

Cat 3 – used for voice cabling and 10Mb Ethernet
Cat 5 – used for 10/100Mb Ethernet and works for voice as well
Cat 5E – Enhanced Cat 5 cabling that helps to prevent cross-talk, works for 10/100Mb and 1000Mb (or Gigabit Ethernet)
Cat 6 – Like Cat 5E but with larger gauge wires, works for 10/100/1000Mb. This cable is better than Cat 5e for Gigabit Ethernet.
Cat 7 – Also called Class F, this is fully-shielded cabling and supports up to 600Mhz. This is a relatively new type of cabling and isn’t used much.
Most companies today are still using and even installing Category 5e as it works for the 100Mb Fast-Ethernet in use on almost every desktop PC.  Plus, it is economical compared to the higher categories of cabling. If you go to a computer store and buy an Ethernet cable, 99% of the time it will be a Cat 5e cable.

So if you are going to "cable" your home or office use Cat 5E and you will be good to go....

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