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3 Types of Internet Cables

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Table of content

  • 3 types of internet cables
  • Key takeaways

Different kinds of internet cables are used around the world for transferring data, depending upon the requirement of internet speeds and other geographical conditions. There are mainly three kinds of network cables.

The type of cable is defined by how it transmits signals from one point to another. Consequently, the type of internet or network cable also affects internet speeds. Therefore, when you are selecting an internet plan for your home or office, make sure you are fully aware of how different types of internet cables work. 

Here are the three most common types of internet cables discussed. Let’s get into the details about the types of internet cables and what makes them different from one another.

  • Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cables are the most conventional type of internet cable. These cables have an internal primary conductor in the center that is used for the flow of data. The inner conductor has a layer of dielectric insulator around it which is then surrounded by a layer of another conducting metallic shield, which prevents external interference.

There are two main types of coaxial cables: thinnet and thicknet; both capable of transmitting a maximum of 10 Mbps. Coaxial cables have now been mostly replaced by twisted-pair cabling due to higher transmission speeds.

A single-core coaxial cable uses a single copper mesh as a conducting shield, whereas a multicore coaxial cable uses more than one thin strand of metal wires. Both types are very much similar with minor differences.

  • Twisted-pair Cable

Twisted-pair cabling is currently used around the world for LANs. It consists of four pairs of cables, twisted around each other to minimize any external interference and crosstalk. These are mostly used for telecommunication purposes, like telephone and network cables. 

Twisted-pair cables are of two types: UTP (Unshielded Twisted-Pair) and STP (Shielded Twisted-Pair). Both, UTP and STP, have some similarities and differences, so let’s have a look at them.

  • Unshielded Twisted-Pair (UTP)

Unshielded Twisted-Pair cables are widely used in multiple industries as telephone and Ethernet cables. In these cables, the conductors which form a single circuit are wrapped around each other to block out any electromagnetic interference (EMI). UTP has a single outer plastic sheath, wrapped around the twisted pairs.

  • Shielded Twisted-Pair (STP)

Shielded Twisted-Pair cables, commonly referred to as Ethernet cables, are a special kind of copper cable, used for higher noise and EMI resistance. STP cables have an additional layer of insulation for protection against external interference and can be used for longer distances. Due to the use of extra material, STP cables are relatively more expensive than UTP cables.

  • Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber Optic cables transmit data in the form of light signals. The cables consist of a center glass core, wrapped by multiple layers of protection. The first cladding layer reflects the light to the core, which is then protected by a buffer layer to prevent leaking. All of these have an outermost protective layer of a jacket, which prevents any physical damage. 

Fiber Optic cables are immune to any EMI and RFI interference and are ideal to connect networks across buildings due to their resistance against moisture lighting. These can transmit data over a long distance at a very efficient speed. 

Fiber optic cables are not as common as conventional coaxial cables. However, the use of fiber cables is steadily increasing and becoming more common. Resultantly, fiber internet is also becoming more and more affordable. AT&T is one of the prime examples of affordable fiber optic internet. In businesses and even for residential usage, fiber optic internet is becoming a preference due to the high-speed internet and bandwidth it delivers, thanks to its thin glass fibers and light signals. 

There are two main types of fiber optic cables, differentiated by the way they transmit light.

  1. Single-mode Fiber (SMF): uses only a single beam of light to transmit information, which makes it ideal for longer distances. SMF is generally more expensive due to its higher efficiency. 
  2. Multimode Fiber (MMF): uses multiple beams of light for transmitting, making it suitable for LANs. MMF is more cost-effective due to lower installation and system costs.

Key takeaways:

The three most common types of internet cables are:

  • Coaxial cable

Coaxial cables are primarily used for TV and cable internet connections. These are the most common types and are made of copper. 

  • Twisted pair cable

These cables are widely used for telephonic communications, so DSL internet uses these cables. They are made of 4 different cables twisted together to transmit signals. These cables are also used in Ethernet connections. There are two types of twisted pair cables, including Shielded and Unshielded twisted cables. 

  • Fiber optic cable

These cables transmit internet signals in the form of light through extremely thin glass fibers. There are two subtypes, including Single-mode Fiber (SMF) and Multimode Fiber (MMF). 

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