When it comes to coaxial cables, wide area networks and built in crossover capabilities, most of us are happy to admit that we don’t have a clue. Despite the fact that almost every human being in the western world uses some kind of computer device at least once a week, it’s rather galling to realise that most of those people don’t have any idea how their devices work.
It’s not a bad thing – we can’t all be technological geniuses, after all. Yet, it is a sign that we should take more interest in the myriad devices that we increasingly depend on. There won’t always be a whizz-kid engineer around to fix your broken router. There won’t always be a harried engineer at the end of the phone ready to listen to you complain about your misbehaving network. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and your life would be a whole lot easier if you took the time to learn a few networking basics. Here’s a guide to three of the most important kinds of network cable available.
The coaxial cable was first invented in the 1880s, so it is by no means a contemporary invention. It was originally used as part of the transmission line for radio frequency signals. These days, it is far more versatile and can be used for cable television signals and small scale internet connections. One of the main advantages of the coaxial cable is that it can be installed close to metal objects without resulting in power outages. This is due to the fact that the electromagnetic field carrying the signal exists only in the space between the outer and inner conductors. Coaxial cables are not influenced by electromagnetic interference either, so they’re fairly hardy and impenetrable. However, they’re quite thick and their stiffness has caused problems for network administrators in the past says About.com journalist Bradley Mitchell.
Fibre Optic Cables
Instead of using insulated metal wire to transmit signals, like a coaxial cable does, a fibre optic cable operates using extremely thin and flexible strands of glass and pulses of light. If you were to cut a fibre optic cable open, the glass strands inside would look like very pale, very thin hairs. Their surprising flexibility makes them ideal for underground or outdoor cable networks. Fibre optic cables also tend to be significantly faster than metal wire cables – they’re often used to build high traffic office networks for this very reason. Almost every major internet provider in Britain and America is now looking to utilise high speed fibre optic capabilities, available through online retailers. Soon, internet access for the entire country will be run through fibre optic cables.
Twisted Pair Cables
‘Twisted pair’ refers to the very common copper wire that connects many homes and businesses to their telephone companies, says Techopedia.com. During the 1990s, twisted pair cables started to be used as the leading cabling standard for Ethernet. These widely available cables contain up to 8 separate wires which are wound intricately together to minimise the risk of electromagnetic interference. They’re still used to connect households to telephone companies but their role as internet liaison is over – wireless networks are taking over and twisted pair cables are no longer needed to gain a reliable connection. Twisted pair cables are extremely cheap to buy, because they’re still a very necessary household item.
Author Bio: RS has been a network consultant for six years. She can usually be found giving businesses advice on how to utilise their network capacity or blogging about her work on her personal website. She recommends Comms Express for top quality computer networking equipment.