Introduction to Networking Cables

Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cable has been around since the 1880s, but mainly used for television. It is now only used with cable modems for networking up to 1 Gigabit.



Serial and Parallel Cables

Back in 1980s and mid 1990s before USB and the .com boom computers worked on Serial and Parallel cables. Serial ports have the transfer speed of .11 and .45 Mbps.

Null modem serial cables transmit and receive lines on end to enable direct two-way communication. They usually follow the two main standards RS-232 and  RS-422. You still see this cable today with some switches and routers.



Twisted Pair Cables

Twisted pair became popular during the 1990s and quickly became the standard for Ethernet. When you here Cat5 or Cat5e this is the cable people are talking about. Three standards for this cable: 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and 10GBASE-T. 10BASE-T is also known as Cat3 with a 10 Mbps speed. 100BASE-TX is known as the Cat5 and Cat5e with a 100 Mbps speed. 10GBASE-T is Cat6 and Cat6a cables with a speed of 10 Gbps. There is Cat7 and Cat8, but they are still under development.

Two types of twisted pair cables the unshielded (UTP) and shielded (STP). STP has a foil shield that runs along with the cables to prevent interference.  UTP is widely used due to its low cost.

utp and stp


Crossover cables or null modem cables connect two devices of the same type such as PCs or switches. The only difference between this cable in the Twisted pair is how you connect to wires to the RJ-45 connector.



USB Cables

You wouldn’t think that a USB cables helps transfer network traffic, but it does. Some Ultrabooks don’t have Ethernet ports, but they have dongles that allow you to connect a Ethernet cable to a USB port. A dongle is a device that bridges between two different connectors.

USB cables also support up to 127 devices like printers, phones, external hard drives , and other peripheral devices.


Fiber Optics

Do you ever wounder how you get internet from the USA to London or London to Australia? This is one of the ways. This diagram below shows the fiber optic cables running around the world. The first submarine communication cable was laid in 1850 for telegraphs, but this was a coax cable. The longest cable as of today is the Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Cable System (ROTACS) which is 14,903 km (9,260 miles), but some of the cables run from Australia to the USA and back.  I would make sure to check out this website to learn more about the submarine cable network.



Fiber optic is made out of glass and it sends pulses of light to communicate. It has two standards the single-mode 100BaseBX and multi-mode 100BaseSX. The submarine cable network uses single-mode well your work or school uses the multi-mode.



Patch Cables

If you own a computer you may have used a patch cable. Patch cable connects two network devices together. They come in all of the network cables listed above and are classified as short cables that you would carry around with you to plug into a networking spot.


Hope you learned something new and now you understand the common network cables.