Network Cabling and Connectors

Unshielded Twisted Pair(UTP) – It is the most common cable used in network is unshielded twisted pair(UTP) and it is twisted pair because wires inside are twisted together into pairs throughout the cable. UTP can go till 100 meters and it is vulnerable to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and wire tapping.

They come in pair types of Category 5, 5e, and 6 and all support minimum 100Mbps with 5e and 6 for gigabit networks. Network speed or bandwidth is measured in bits per second and 100Mbps is 100 megabits per second and 1Gbps is 1 gigabit per second (or gigabit network). The 568A and B wiring standards define wire pair colors in blue, orange, green and brown. This standard is in cables, patch panels, jacks, and connectors. Connector used is called RJ45 which connect to each end of the cable so, they connect to RJ45 sockets in network adapters and on hubs or switches.

If a computer cannot connect to the network, check the cables first. Make sure the RJ45 plug has a solid connection. Tools to test cable are

Patch testers: It tests patch cables. Both RJ45 ends go in it and it tells connectivity.

Continuity testers: It checks continuity on each pin and are a handheld device which connect to one end of connection, and terminators on other end.

Shielded twisted pair (STP)– It has metal shielding over each pair of wires so, reducing external EMI and wire tapping but it is expensive and complex installation so fiber is used.

Fiber optic–  It transmits data using light so high bandwidth and speed with no EMI problem. Hence, it is most secure cable. It comes in single mode and multimode fiber. Single mode is used for long distance and has one fibre and multimode is for small distance and uses multiple fibers. Both give speeds of 1000Mbps and 10Gbps

Coaxial cable – It has single conductor surrounded by insulating material, which is then surrounded by a copper screen, and finally an outer plastic sheath. It is used in cable TV and cable Internet connections with RG-6 or RG-58 connectors but now rarely used in computer networks

Networking expansion cards for desktop computers include PCI, USB and PCIe, whereas laptops use PC Cards, ExpressCards, and Mini-PCI. It is also called network interface card (NIC). It has RJ45 jack or antenna for wireless connection.

It needs driver software to communicate with OS, A communications protocol is also needed for the network adapter and the commonly used protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). TCP/IP has many protocols like, HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, SNMP or FTP.

There are two duplex type settings for network adapter: half- duplex and full-duplex. Half-duplex means that your network adapter can send or receive data but not at the same time; full-duplex means that the adapter can do both simultaneously thus doubling the maximum data throughput. This can be configured by navigating to the Device Manager and then going to the properties of the network adapter. Finally, access the Advanced tab and the Speed & Duplex setting (or like name). This is normally set to auto-negotiation.

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