Network Cabling Options
Cable is a medium via which information moves from one network device to another. Several types of cables are utilized with Local Area Networks. In some situations, a network uses only a single type of cable; however, other networks need varieties of cables. The type of cable selected for a network is based on the network’s protocol, topology and size. Comprehension of the features of varieties of cables and their relation to other aspects of a network is vital in developing a successful network.
Types of cables used in networks
• Twisted Un-shielded Pair Cable
• Twisted shielded Pair Cable
• Fiber Optic Cable
• Coaxial cable
Twisted pair cables are of two types; the shielded and the un-shielded. The un-shielded twisted pair is very popular and it is usually the best alternative for school networks. Its quality varies from telephone grade wire to enhanced speed cable. The cable contains four wires within the jacket and each pair has different number of twists per inch to assist in eliminating interference from other electrical devices and the adjacent pairs.
Even though the un-shielded twisted pair is cheaper, it is sometimes susceptible to electrical and radio frequency interference, it should be away from fluorescent lights, electric motors etc. The shielded twisted pair is a marvelous option where cables must be placed in extremely sensitive environments or environments with much potential interference. Shielded cables are also worthwhile in extending a cable’s maximum distance.
Shielded twisted pair cable has three different configurations:
Every pair of wires is shielded individually with foil. There is a braid or a foil shield inside the jacket which covers all the wires as a group. Each individual pair has a shield, there is also a shield around all the Coaxial Cable.
Coaxial wire cabling possesses one copper conductor at the center. There is a plastic layer between the braided metal shield and center conductor which provides insulation. The metal shield blocks external interference from motors, other computers and fluorescent light. Even though it’s difficult to install, it is greatly resistant to signal interference. Besides, it is able to support larger cable lengths as compared to twisted pair cable between network devices. Coaxial cabling are of two varieties; thin and thick coaxial. Thin coaxial cable is popular in school networks particularly linear bus networks. The thick coaxial cable possesses an additional protective cover which keeps moisture at bay from the canter conductor. It is because of this that it is great for running longer lengths in linear bus networks. However, it has a demerit of not bending easily and difficulty in installation.
Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optic cabling has a center glass or plastic core which is enclosed by many layers of protective materials. Its transmission of light rather than electronic signals eliminates problem of electrical interference. This is why it is ideal in places where there is large amount of electrical interference. Due to its immunity to effects of lighting and moisture, it has become a standard for network connection between buildings. It can also transmit signals over a greater distance in comparison to twisted pair and coaxial. Besides, it carries information at enhanced speed which widens communication possibilities to encompass interactive services and video conferencing. Its cost is comparable to copper cabling but it is very difficult to modify and install. They are of two types. Multimode and single mode, single mode is able to offer more distance and it’s more expensive, the multimode type has a large diameter.