It’s no surprise that technology goes through new iterations and improvements every year. But just exactly how does that work for your business cabling? Is it really necessary to upgrade your Ethernet cables, or can you get by with your current setup? A quick review of the different types of Ethernet—and what’s next for business cabling—will help you figure out what’s best for your team.
What are Ethernet Cables Used For?
Some internet connections are accessed through WiFi, but others use cables. Many of these wired networks use Ethernet cables. They look similar to phone cables, but tend to be longer. Ethernet cables are also bigger. They use eight wires, whereas a phone cable is made of four.
Just as the phone cables connect your company telephones to the network, your Ethernet cables work to link desktops, printers, and other devices to your site’s internet. Typically, you’ll be able to get a better signal when your Ethernet cables are shorter. A long distance between your local area network and your computer, for example, can lead to an unreliable internet connection. Newer types of Ethernet cables can also mitigate those problems. Or, you may just need to revise your layout.
Types of Ethernet Business Cabling
While all Ethernet cables serve the same general purpose, there are pros and cons to each of the types that are used today. The differences relate to what kind of wire is used and how those wires are bundled inside the cable. Over the years, the industry has greatly improved. Now we have much better options for faster internet speeds and stronger connections.
Cat5 – These cables were the next step up from Cat3 cables. On the whole, they were fine for internet speeds of up to 100Mbps, but now that higher speeds are so common, Cat5 is becoming more obsolete.
Cat5e – The “enhanced” version of Cat5 is regarded as the standard Ethernet cable today. These cables support internet speeds up to 1Gpbs. They are also a good choice because they usually cost less than Cat6 and Cat7 cabling.
Cat6 – If your internet speed is in that 1Gbps or lower range, going with Cat6 cabling can give you faster download and upload times. This may not be necessary for every team, but it’s nice to have that upgrade option. Plus, certain Cat6 cables (referred to as “STP” or “shielded twisted pair”) are designed to protect your lines against crosstalk or other interference.
Cat6a – For an even faster connection, you can look at Cat6a. These Ethernet cables support internet speeds of up to 10Gbps, and they all come with a shielding feature. When you have a large team to support, this is a solid choice that should last you for years—even as fiber optic internet continues to become more available.
The Future of Cabling Installation
Beyond the Cat6a cabling, some companies are choosing to make the switch to even more robust internet cabling solutions with Cat7 and Cat7a. There are even Cat8 Ethernet options coming out in the very near future. But for now, it’s difficult to tell whether these will be widely used, as other locations now have the option to utilize fiber cabling.
Because every site and organization is unique, it can sometimes be hard to know which setup is right for you. You don’t want to be stuck with slow internet because of outdated Ethernet cables. Of course, you also shouldn’t overpay for cabling you don’t need. When you need help sorting through your options, please know that Enhanced Telecommunications is here to help!
Our team can handle both large- and small-scale cabling installation needs, and we’re equipped to travel throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Washington for your cabling projects. If you have any questions about Ethernet or fiber optic installation, be sure to give us a call at (208) 947-3900.