Cabling utilized for network infrastructure is a crucial aspect of networking, and it has grown in importance as new technologies are introduced, including virtualization, wireless access points, blade servers, network storage devices, etc.
Although wireless technology has greatly advanced, most of the existing computer networks are still using cables as the media for transferring data. Each standardized type of network cable is utilized for a specific purpose as discussed below.
Patented in 1880 (yes, that long ago!), coaxial cable is most familiar as the cable that connects TV sets to their antennas and also as the standard for 10 Mbps Ethernet, which was common in the 1980s and early 1990s. During this time, networks utilized two coaxial cable types, thicknet, the 10BASE5 standard, or thinnet, the 10BASE2 standard. Composed of an inner copper wire surrounded by insulation and shielding, the stiff quality of these cables made them difficult to install and maintain.
Twisted Pair Cables
During the 1970s, Ethernet was developed at Xerox, which began collaborating with Intel and DEC for its standardization. The initial specifications, titled the Ethernet Blue Book or DIX from their three company initials, was published in 1980.
In the 1990s, twisted pair cables became the primary cabling standard of Ethernet, beginning at 10 Mbps with Category 3 or Cat3, which was followed by 100 Mbps Cat5 and Cat5e and up to 10 Gbps (10GBASE-T). Ranging up to eight wires wound together in pairs, this type of cabling is intended to minimize electromagnetic interference.
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) are the two chief twisted pair cable types standardized by the industry. Due to lower manufacturing costs, modern Ethernet cables utilize UTP wiring. STP cabling is used by other types of networks like Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI). Clearly the most common network cable type globally, UTP cable is utilized for both networking and for the traditional telephone (UTP-CAT1) cabling.
UTP-CAT5e or Cat5e has become the most common UTP cable as it replaced coaxial cable, which was unable to cope with the increasing demand for networks that were faster and more reliable.
Part 2 will cover Fiber Optics, USB Cables, and Crossover Cables.
Union Network Cabling
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