08 Feb Why Copper Cable Is The No.1 Choice For Network Cabling Systems
While the use of fiber-optic cable is slowly on the rise within the networking industry, copper cable is still the number one choice of cabling used today whenever it comes to installing a new structured network cabling system.
The capabilities of copper cabling are constantly being upgraded and there is a wide variety of copper UTP cable available today with Cat 5e, Cat6 and 6a currently being the main ones used in the networking industry.
Types of Copper Cable
Copper cable has come a long way over the years and there are currently seven different categories of copper UTP cable available ranging from category 1 up to 7, plus there is also a category 8 cable currently being developed and tested.
Category 1 – Cat 1 cable can only be used for very low-speed applications and is now typically only used as telephone wire.
Category 2 – CAT2 can be used for token ring networks, but it only supports speeds up to 4 Mbps so it is practically never used these days.
Category 3 – Cat 3 is usually four pair twisted cable and used to be the network cable of choice way back in the 90’s but is now generally only used in some Token networks.
Category 4 – Cat 4 also consists of four pairs of twisted cables and can deal with Token networks up to 16Mbps though is not used that often these days.
Category 5 – Cat 5 was replaced with the upgraded Cat5e and is still one of the most widely used cables within network cabling systems around the world, as it can support the speeds of networks without the higher price tag.
Category 6 – Cat 6 cables are now used for a lot of new network cabling installations, along with the upgraded Cat 6a cable as it is able to offer less crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. The main benefits of Cat 6 cabling are not only that they have the ability to support higher speeds, but that they are also a more robust and reliable choice, due to their tighter twisted pairs within thicker cables.
Category 7 – Cat 7 is currently the new kid on the block and is able to support speeds up to 10Gbps up to lengths of 100 meters. Cat 7 consists of 4 pairs of individual shielded pairs and an extra cable shield that significantly protects the signal from EMI and crosstalk. The main drawback with Cat 7 is that if you use this category of cable then every other component of your network cabling network must also be Cat 7 certified.
The shielding within STP copper cable allows it to provide a higher level of protection against electromagnetic interference than standard UTP. Therefore STP is often the cable of choice to use in harmful environments such as those that have high radiation levels or in extreme cold conditions. Though, if you are thinking about choosing STP for your cabling network just because of its greater EMI and bandwidth capabilities, you should really consider fiber-optic cable instead.
Coaxial cable has played a part in the network cabling industry for many years though is now primarily used for connecting applications such as satellite T.V, video networks and CCTV systems.
Why Pick UTP Copper Cabling For Your Network?
The use of copper cabling dates all the way back to the 1820’s when the electromagnet and telegraph were first invented and it is still the main player within the network cabling industry today.
The quality and capabilities of UTP copper cabling have been constantly improved over the years by the manufacturers and Cat6 in particular has the valuable ability of reducing and eliminating crosstalk.
So while fiber-optic cabling is slowly becoming more popular due to its superior performance in relation to the speed that it can carry data along long distance, at the moment UTP copper cabling is still the dominating type of cable to use within network cabling systems.
Both UTP copper cabling and the components that go with it to create a structured network cabling system are still much more cost-effective, easier to install and can also withstand much tougher conditions.
Talking of installing cabling in tougher areas here is a great little video we made for you with tips on data cabling in a warehouse.
Installing Copper Cable in a Structured Network Cabling System
One of the main considerations when installing a network cabling infrastructure with copper cable is that both the cabling and its accompanying components all adhere to the correct data cabling standards that are laid out by the ANSI/TIA/EIA.
Also when it comes to installing copper cable as part of a structured network cabling system it is essential that it is first properly planned. There are a multitude of different things that you need to take into account during the planning stage; such as the category of cable to use, the amount of cables, best type of pathways and whether there are any dangers present to name just a few.
So really the wisest thing to do is just call in the professionals and let them do the job for you.
So even though fiber-optic cable is gradually beginning to make its mark within the network cabling industry it is highly unlikely that it is going to take over completely from copper cabling in the near future.
Copper UTP cable is still the number one choice when it comes to installing new network cabling systems and at the moment a more realistic approach is to consider having a network designed than can support both types of cable, so that you it accommodates the best solutions for your connectivity needs both now and in the future…