How to Choose the Right Ethernet Cable for Your Network?

To build your Ethernet network, the transmission media Ethernet cable is indispensable. And there are a variety of choices for Ethernet cables, such as Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a and so on. If you are familiar with the differences between these different types of Ethernet cables, you may think it’s very simple to choose the right Ethernet cable for your network. However, is this really enough to help you make the decision? Are there any other factors you have to take into consideration? This article will give you the answer.

Overview of Different Types of Ethernet Cables

First, let’s have a quick review of the basic knowledge of these different types of Ethernet cables. For data speed, Cat5e is designed to support 1 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 100MHz; Cat6 can support higher data rate of 10 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 250 MHz; Cat6a is defined at frequencies up to 500MHz among 10G Ethernet applications. For transmission distance, Cat5e can reach 100 meters at the speed of 1Gbps; Cat6 is able to run 100 meters with data speed up to 1Gbps and only 55 meters at the speed of 10Gbps; Cat6a can support the distance over 100 meters at the speed of 10Gbps. Which types of Ethernet cables to choose depends on your requirement for transmission speed and distance. After you make a decision on this, there are some other factors you have to consider—straight-through or crossover cable, UTP (unshielded twisted pair) or STP (shielded twisted pair) cable, length and color. The following part will focus on these factors.

Straight-Through or Crossover Cable?

Ethernet cable terminated with RJ45 connector contains eight color-coded wires. The color-coded wiring sequences exist as a cabling industry standard. When linking RJ45 connector to a cable, there are two wiring standards—T-568A and T-568B. The two wiring standards are used to create a straight-through cable (T-568A or T-568B on both ends), or a crossover cable (T-568A on one end and T-568B on the other end). To choose a straight-through cable, you have to use either T-568A or T-568B on both ends of the cable; to choose a crossover cable, you need to wire T-568A on one end and T-568B on the other end of the cable. Here is a figure of T-568A and T-568B, from which you can see the difference between these two wiring standards.

T-568A and T-568B

UTP or STP Cable?

STP cable has a metal shield around each twisted pair which is composed of copper tape, a layer of conducting polymer or a braid (mostly made of copper or aluminum). With the shield, EMI (electromagnetic interference) and crosstalk can be greatly reduced, which enables the high performance of data transmission between different devices. While UTP cable has no shielding. It is designed to cancel electromagnetic interference through the way the pairs are twisted inside the cable. If the Ethernet cable runs in the environment where the interference or crosstalk is not the main concern, it is suggested to choose UTP cables which are lower in cost. But if the environment is full of powerful magnetic fields which may have an influence on the performance of network, STP cable is absolutely the optimal choice. To have a better understanding of the difference between UTP cable and STP cable, here is figure of the inner structure of UTP cable and STP cable.

the inner structure of UTP cable and STP cable

Length and Color

When choosing Ether cable for your network, you also need to consider length and color. Ethernet cable comes in standard lengths such as 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 meter. Longer lengths are available, such as bulk Cat5e cable 305m. The distance between your various network devices and your network switch or router will determine the length you need. In addition, Ethernet cable is designed in all sorts of colors, such as blue, gray, red and some other color. This decision can be based purely on your individual taste and preference.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that choosing the right Ethernet cable can make your network work at a high performance level. I hope this article can help you know more about Ethernet cable and make the right choice for your network application. There are different types of Ethernet cables available in FS.COM, such as UTP Cat5e bulk cable, STP Cat6 bulk cable and so on. Also, we provide different types of RJ45 couplers which can be a convenient way to combine two short Ethernet cables into a longer one, such as Cat6 coupler and Cat5e coupler. If you want to know more details, please visit our site or contact us.

Unsuitable Length of Ethernet Cable In Your Application?

Sometimes we may encounter the situation where the length of Ethernet cable bought in store is not suitable for the application. Is there an cost-effective way to solve this problem? Terminating the cable with RJ45 connector or using a RJ45 coupler to connect two cables by yourself can be a good option. This passage will introduce these two ways to solve such awkward problem.

Terminate Ethernet Cable With RJ45 Connector
Overview of RJ45 Connector

Before we come to the termination process, let’s have a brief overview of RJ45 connector. The letter “RJ” represents “registered jack”, which is a standardized physical network interface for connecting telecommunication or data equipment. RJ45 connector features eight positions and eight contact pins (8P8C). Material of the connector often uses plastic which makes it look transparent, thus the connector can also be called crystal connector (shown as the figure below). RJ45 connector is the most common twisted-pair connector for Ethernet cables.

RJ45 connector

Necessary Tools for Termination

Using special tools for termination is very important. You should not cut the cable with other unprofessional tools since it may cause damage and increase signal loss. Jacket cutter or wire stripper is needed to safely cut the jacket off and not hurt the inner wires. Cable crimping tool is necessary for crimping the RJ45 connector onto the wire to make a compact connection. Wire cutter is used to neatly cut the cable ends. Ethernet testing tool is important for the final check of the cable when termination is complete.

Steps of Termination Process

After everything is prepared, you can start terminating the Ethernet cable. Just follow the steps one by one, and the process can be done within several minutes.

Step one. Trim the end of the Ethernet cable with a crimping tool. Strip off about one inch of the jacket, leaving the twisted pairs outside.

Step two. Separate the 4 twisted wire pairs from each other, and then unwind each pair. Flatten the 8 individual wires as much as possible to make preparation for proper individual insertion into the connector.

Step three. Make clear on which standard you are based, then carefully place the wires in order according to that standard.

Step four. Hold the RJ45 connector and carefully insert the prepared wires into the connector, pushing them through the connector until the wire ends come out of the connector’s pin side. Make sure the color order is correct. If not, remove the wires from the connector and do it again.

Step five. Carefully cut the wire ends using crimping tool. Make sure the ends are as flush with the connector’s surface as possible to ensure a good plug-in connection.

If you have experience to install or maintain cables in LANs, you may know how important to terminate Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a bulk Ethernet cables with RJ45 connectors. Mastering this skill sometimes can save time as well as money in Ethernet cable installations.

Use a RJ45 Coupler

A RJ45 coupler, or inline coupler, is a small device with two female RJ45 jacks that joins two wires with Ethernet plugs together (shown as the figure below). Inline couplers do not provide any amplification or signal boost, and can cause attenuation and signal degradation unless they are of high quality. The primary use for a RJ45 coupler is to turn two short Ethernet computer networking cables into one long cable. When processing this, the RJ45 couplers need to be built to carry two cables with the same bandwidth in the network. This can be a convenient way to join two RJ45-terminated cables together to form one long cable.

RJ45 coupler

Conclusion

Learning the skill of Ethernet cable termination or connecting two cables with RJ45 couple efficiently solves the problem of unsuitable cable length. In this way, Ethernet cables can be more flexible to suit different applications. FS.COM provides the related copper products mentioned in the article, such as Cat5e cable 305m, Cat5e coupler, Cat6 coupler, RJ45 to RJ45 connector, etc. If you want to know more details, please visit our site or contact us via sales@fs.com.