What is a Data Cable?

A data cable is any cable that can transmit electronic information from a source to a destination, for example from one computer to another. Data cables are made from either copper or fibre optics, and most often coating in rubber or plastic called insulation.

What are the different types of data cables?

There are three main types of data cable:
Twisted pair (made from copper)
Coaxial (or Coax) (made from copper)
Optic cables (made from fibre)

What is a Twisted Pair Data Cable?

A twisted pair data cable is made from two copper cores, each with its own plastic coating (insulation) then twisted together to form a single cable. Twisted pair data cables are mainly used for Telecommunications and computer networks. The two individual wires inside the twisted pair have separate uses, one carries the signal and the other is used as ground reference. This has an advantage because both wires are equally affected by external influences. This twisting helps protect data communications degeneration, the average length for a twisted pair wire before signal degradation is approximately 300 feet.

Historically the two most common categories of twisted pair data cables were CAT 3 (voice) and CAT 5e. With more modern installations, category 5e for voice and 10GBASE-T for long term usage are becoming mostly common-place.

What is a Coaxial (coax) data cable?

A Coaxial (or coax) data cable is typically used in older computer networks. Coax data cables carry a higher frequency signal than twisted-pair data cables. The construction of a coax data cable includes a central core conductor of solid wire enclosed in an insulator, this is then covered by an outer conductor of metal foil. This outer conductor completes the circuit within the wire and the whole thing is protected by an outer insulator.

The coaxial data cable has higher bandwidth than a twisted pair data cable, however the data will degrade from a shorter distance so cannot be used for connecting things that are as far away as a twisted pair cable can.

A single coaxial data cable can carry data up to 600 Mbps and is often used in telephone cable wiring. Coax cabling requires a connector called a BNC connector which is used to connect the end of the cable to a device.

What is Fibre Optic Data Cable?

Fibre optic data cables transmit data signals in the form of light. A fibre optic cable is made up of three main parts, the core and the cladding and the buffer. The core is made usually made of glass (sometimes of plastic), the cladding is the middle layer and has a lower index of refraction, the cladding protects the core and the cladding and is usually made from plastic. (A further metal layer can sometimes be added to offer greater protection but will increase production costs.)

When the data (in the form of a beam of light) enters the core of the cable, it reflects off the cladding (instead of being refracted into it) meaning the data (light) travels along with the cable via reflection.

Fibre optic cables are used widely by cable and telephony companies in order to provide fast connections to the Internet.

Fibre optic cables need a connector which come in two types. An SC connector used for laying lines for cable TV, and an ST connector which is used for connecting a fibre optic cable to any network device.

What are the benefits of a Fibre Optic Cable?

Fibre optic cable is much lighter than twisted pair and coax data cables, fibre optic cable does not suffer from signal degradation which makes it a perfect choice for long sections of data cabling.

Fibre Optic cables provide very high bandwidth and are not susceptible to any electromagnetic interference.

Because fibre optic cables are lightweight it means they are less likely to get trapped, fibre optic cable is often used for large networks because of its efficiency making it the preferred choice for most data cable installation companies.

One downside is that fibre optic cables are fragile due to the glass parts of the cable and this also makes it more expensive.

What is an Ethernet Cable?

An Ethernet cable refers to the most common type of data cable used on a home or business wired network. An ethernet cable connects wired devices onto a local network and can be used for file sharing and access to the internet. Most modern computers and printers now connect to the network via Wifi, which can be easy and portable but doesn’t offer such a fast connection. If you are looking for the fastest connection speeds for your home or business internet then a hard wired ethernet connection is a good option and chosen by many data cable installers.

The Data Cabling Experts in Bristol

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