Connect network devices to a LAN
Network Cat5E/Cat6 Cables:
Network cables are used to connect the Network equipments (Computers, Printers, Servers, etc) with the Network switch to create a Local Area Network (LAN). Network cables enable individual computers to access printers, computer servers and the Internet through active network components like network switches/ routers, etc.
There are two types of Network Cables that are popular – UTP Cables and STP Cables. UTP refers to Unshielded Twisted Pair and STP refers to Shielded Twisted pair. Both of them contain four individual pairs of copper cables within an overall insulator material. The copper strands in each pair are twisted over one another, to reduce the electromagnetic interference. UTP cables are used within buildings, offices & STP cables are used in industrial environments where one can expect Electromagnetic Interference as they have additional metallic shielding layers.
There are various grades of Network cables available in the market. Two of the most popular cables are Cat5E Network cables and Cat6 Network cables. Cat5E network cables support a maximum of 100 Mbps bandwidth over a maximum distance of 100 meters. Cat6 network cables support 1000 Mbps bandwidth over a maximum distance of 100 meters.
Network cables are generally sold in bulk – 295 meters per box, for example. Network personnel decide the lengths required for connecting each network device with the network switch and cut the cables using cabling tools for the required length. They then crimp either end of the cable with the right copper cable pair arrangements, cable plugs and cable boots to be able to connect to network devices with an RJ-45 interface.
Network cables are copper cables and hence they should not be taken along with power cables due to interference. Network cables should not be bent too sharply during installation as over bending might lead to leakage of signals. Network Patch Cords:
Network patch cords are similar to network cables but they are shorter in length. They come with factory crimped network plugs and boots at either end. The common sizes of network patch cords include 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet, 15 feet, etc.
Structured cabling standards recommend that small patch cords connect from the individual network devices (computers, etc) to an I/O box on the wall with RJ-45 jacks. A network cable then connects to this I/O box from behind and then goes all the way to the network rack where it terminates behind a patch panel. From the patch panel, another network patch cord connects to the switch port.
Since the patch cords are factory crimped, the quality of termination of RJ-45 jacks is better and these cables can be expected to give a long life. Moreover, they are more susceptible to adds/moves and changes and hence they are manufactured with extra rigidity and sturdiness.
While network cables are expected to be fixed permanently, network patch cords can be removed and changed for testing/ moving network equipments from one place to another.
The type of the network patch cord (UTP, STP, etc) and their grade (Cat5E, Cat6, etc) should match with each other during a network installation, to realize the full bandwidth and distances supported by them.
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