Information usually moves from one network device to another using cable as a medium.
Networks may use cables of one type or a variety of them depending on its topology, protocol and size. There are various types of cables available with different characteristics.
Following are few of them:
- Twisted pair – Pairs of wires are twisted together to cancel the effect of electromagnetic interference (EMI). Types of twisted pair cabling:
- Shielded – Ideal for usage in places having radio and/ or electrical interferences. Each wire in the cable is individually shielded and then a foil covers all wires providing protection against disturbances.
- Unshielded – This is most commonly used cable and has transition speed of 1 Mbps – 10,000 Mbps. This is the least expensive cable type but is open to radio and electrical interferences.
- Coaxial cable – This cable has a single copper conductor followed by a plastic layer providing insulation between the conductor and the metal shield. This makes the cable resistant towards interferences. Types of coaxial cables:
- Thin coaxial cable – It is also known as thinnet. This cable is installed in school networks like linear bus network.
- Thick coaxial cable – It is also known as thicknet. This cable type has an extra layer of plastic protection and is protected against moisture. When there is a need to install a longer linear network, thick coaxial cable becomes the obvious choice. The only disadvantage of this cable is its bending strength and installation difficulty.
- Fiber optic cable – Cable’s center is made of glass and thereafter is surrounded by layers of protective material. These cables are used for transmission of light so as to remove any problems of electromagnetic interference. These are also protected against all kinds of moisture and lighting hence these are used to transmit signals over longer distances. This serves as a better option over copper cables since copper cables become brittle when overused or when exposed to hot temperatures. These cables can also carry information at high speeds thus making them ideal for usage in service like video conferencing and interactive services. While these are cost effective, the only disadvantage of these cables is the installation difficulty. Types of fiber optic cables:
- Single Mode – These cables can be used for longer distances and are expensive.
- Multimode – These cables have a larger diameter compared to single mode.
- Patch cable – This cable uses an electrical or optical cable to connect one electronic or optical device to another. These cables are not too long, are flexible and less durable. Various types of patch cords are microphone cables, headphone extension cables, XLR connector and RCA connectors.
- Power lines – Power lines typically do not function as network providers. However, new technologies like power line communication are being used these days wherein these lines are utilized to connect home computers, peripherals and other products.