Functions of Computer Cables
All types of computer cables share a common trait: they create physical connections between ports through which data may be transferred electronically. The function of a computer cable is to transfer data, which lends itself to all kinds of different usages.
Computer cables can form local area networks (LANs) between groups of computers in the same area, allowing them to directly communicate with each other and share data. The platform on which LANs are hosted is known as Ethernet, which is made possible through carefully installed cabling.
The Internet is made possible through the use of specific computer cables which connect computers and servers across the world. Even wireless Internet relies on cables, since the wireless router must be physically connected to the Internet via cable before it can broadcast its signals wirelessly.
Because they help make Ethernet and Internet access possible, it’s obvious that properly installed computer cables are a vital component for most homes and all offices.
The Development of Computer Cables
Telecommunications were first facilitated by telegraph lines, when Alexander Graham Bell used them to make the first telephone call. Telegraph lines transferred data via copper wire and utilized single-wire earth return circuits. The circuits were replaced with balanced circuits in the 1880s.
As telephones became more popular, interference between groups of copper wires started to become a problem. This eventually led to the creation of twisted pair cables, in which pairs of copper wire are twisted around each other. Each pair has a unique twist rate, which helps to prevent signals from getting mixed. Twisted pair cables are still in use today, and are still constructed of copper. Technological advances have allowed these cables to become ever faster and capable of spanning long distances, but the original premise behind twisted pair cables has not changed.
Recently, fibre optic cable has been introduced as a superior alternative to copper. Fibre optic threads are composed of glass or plastic and carry rays of light over very long distances. They are extremely quick and immune to electromagnetic interference. However, copper cables are still very much in use and will likely remain widely used, since they are functional and less expensive to install and maintain than fibre optic cables.
Types of Computer Cables
The following are the current leading types of computer cables, all of which can be provided and installed by Active Communications Company Ltd.
Category 3 cable was popular in the early 1990s and is still used today. This copper twisted-pair cable can transfer up to 10 MB/sec, with a maximum bandwidth of 16 MHz. Although higher performing cable is available, Cat3 cable has retained its popularity due to applications which don’t require much bandwidth, like VoIP phones.
Cat5 and Cat5e
Category 5 cable is the predecessor to Category 5e, and is a twisted pair cable designed to maintain high signal integrity. Although currently unrecognised by TIA/EIA, Cat5 cable is still widely used. Cat5e is even more popular, and is used mainly for Ethernet.
Cat6 and 6a
Category 6 and 6a cable is very high performance, packing 250 MHz and 500 MHz of bandwidth, respectively. They are appropriate for usage in Gigabit Ethernet.
Although unrecognised by TIA/EIA, Category 7 cable is becoming more and more widespread for industry use. It facilitates 10 Gigabit Ethernet and is backwards compatible, so it can be used in conjunction with more commonly used Cat5 and 5e.
Fibre optic cable is a fairly new innovation which allows data to be transferred through specially engineered lengths of plastic or glass. It holds a lot of advantages over copper cables – flexibility, speed, reliability, and more – but is also significantly more expensive.
There are many different cable configurations possible with these various types of cable, and it’s important to make sure that a network uses the appropriate type or types of cable to work efficiently. ACCL offers consulting and custom-built, thoroughly tested cable plans, so every network gets exactly the sort of cable it needs.
Installing Computer Cabling
The installation of computer cabling is very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, a network can’t be functional if all the cables are not installed perfectly – and with dozens or even hundreds of unmarked wires to keep track of, that’s no small task. The installation must conform to a number of very specific international and European standards which dictate how networks should be configured and what procedures should be in place.
Installing computer cabling can even be a hazardous task if appropriate safety precautions are not observed. Properly installing cabling may involve exposure to power lines during a building’s construction. Even if a building is already wired, installing a network within a building may require construction work to ensure that cables are kept out of the way.
Basically, the installation of computer cabling is a task that should always be left to qualified professionals – like the staff at Active Communications Company Ltd.