A business needs an effective and comprehensive IT infrastructure to achieve its goals. And while most managers tend to focus on acquiring top-of-the-line-computer hardware and software, they should never overlook the foundation of the IT ecosystem: cables.
Network cabling holds together a business’s IT infrastructure, from local area networks to intranets to internet connections. In fact, how well cable infrastructure is planned can affect business efficiency. A solid network cabling strategy can also improve employee productivity, streamline operations, and cut costs.
But network cabling is not as straightforward as it seems. For one, there are several network cable types, each with its own capabilities and functions. Knowing what each one does will help you choose the right cabling infrastructure that matches your company’s unique networking needs. For instance, if you want a high-speed internet connection, you should know what cabling to use to achieve your desired speeds.
Let’s take a look at the different types of network cables, their similarities and differences, and their uses so you can decide which best suits your business.
Different network cable categories
It’s crucial that you know the differences between the two common types of network cables, namely, Ethernet cable and fiber optic cable. Both of these are highly capable wiring options, but their main difference lies in their composition: Ethernet cable is made up of copper, while fiber optic cable is made up of thin fibers of glass or plastic.
These two categories are further divided according to their speed of transmission and use. Let’s first take a look at Ethernet cable types.
The Ethernet cable has been around since the mid-1970s, and it has since undergone many iterations and improvements. To date, there are at least seven categories (Cat) of Ethernet cables. The higher the category of the cable, the greater its bandwidth and data transfer rates.
Types of Ethernet cables
Should your business upgrade from Cat5/Cat5e to Cat6?
Always exercise prudence when upgrading from one type of network cable to another. If your business uses Cat5/5e cables and is experiencing internet speeds lower than what you need, it may be time to switch to Cat6 cables. If your operations rely on transferring huge amounts of data in a very short time, for instance, Cat6 cables can better support your operations.
Note, however, that Cat6 tends to be thicker than Cat5/5e cables, which can be an issue if you have limited office space. On the other hand, if you’re content with your current speeds or you’ve moved your servers to the cloud, Cat5/5e cables are perfect for the job.
Fiber optic cables
While Ethernet network cable types are pretty reliable, they also have disadvantages. For one, all Ethernet cable types can transmit data only up to 328 feet. This poses a problem for businesses that need to transmit data across long distances.
Ethernet cables are also prone to interference. While they do have shielding to protect them from electromagnetic interference, this protection is not sufficient to prevent interference when many cables are in proximity to one another.
If these issues are concerning to you, your business may best benefit from fiber optic cables.
Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth than other types of network cables, which means they can carry more data than Ethernet cables of the same diameter. They also decrease latency, enabling faster upload and download speeds. This low loss, in turn, enables fiber to carry data across long distances without delay. Businesses that need to support long-distance connections between cities, regions, or even countries can benefit from this low loss.
Fiber optic cables also transmit data faster than its copper wire counterparts. For comparison, Ethernet network cable types support up to 1,000 Mbps of bandwidth, while fiber optic cables support speeds of up to 2,000 Mbps. If you want to reduce transmission times by almost half, consider switching to fiber optic cables.
Another advantage of fiber optics is their inherent security. Because they don’t emit signals, it’s difficult to intercept the data they are transmitting. Any attempt to access data in transit via fiber optic cables will cause the network to shut down, alerting everyone of the issue. As such, fiber optic cables are the perfect fit for companies looking to strengthen every aspect of their security.
Apart from being secure, fiber optic cabling is also safe to handle. It uses light instead of electricity to transfer data, and it can also withstand temperature fluctuations. These not only account for a safer workplace, but also reduce threats to business continuity. Fiber optic cables are the ideal type of network cable for businesses with locations in rugged environments, such as those working outdoors or in industrial settings.
Types of fiber optic cables
There are two fiber optic network cable types: single-mode and multimode. As their names suggest, single-mode fiber optic network cables can propagate one light mode at a time, while multimode cables can propagate multiple modes simultaneously. Because a multimode fiber cable has several light modes competing for bandwidth, it has a limited capacity; meanwhile, a single-mode fiber has a theoretically unlimited bandwidth because it allows only one light mode to pass through at a given moment.
Single-mode fibers are also thinner because they have a smaller core size than multimode fibers. The smaller diameter of single-mode fibers means precision alignment in injecting light from the receiver into the core is required; this drives up transceiver costs and necessitates greater skills in deployment and termination. In general, single-mode fibers can cost twice as much as multimode fibers. Managed print services take all of these tedious and repetitive tasks and reduce them to a single phone call. Professional service technicians handle the rest so that your employees can take control of their own time and focus on the things that really matter.
The bottom line: For businesses and data center applications that need to transmit data within a 1,600- to 1,900-foot range, multimode optical fiber systems are the most cost-effective fiber choice. Managed print services take all of these tedious and repetitive tasks and reduce them to a single phone call. Professional service technicians handle the rest so that your employees can take control of their own time and focus on the things that really matter.
Considerations for choosing your cabling
Choosing the right types of network cables for your business is crucial, because your investment will have a long-term effect on your operations. Cabling infrastructure lasts about 10 years, supporting up to three generations of devices.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing cabling infrastructure:
If you’re still unsure about what cabling infrastructure is right for your business, talk to our cabling experts at MBM Technology Solutions. We provide seamless technology integration in Southeast Michigan and beyond. Drop us a line today.