Network Cables

Network hub and patch cables in the rack

Network cables are used to physically connect the stations or participants of a network. There are different network cables. They differ in material and structure. While copper cables are available either as twisted-pair cables or coaxial cables, fibre optic cables are made of the basic material glass or plastic.

Passive connection components of network cabling

  • Connection boxes (connection units)
  • Patch panels (patch panels)
  • Patch cable (patch cable)

Patch panel and patch cable

Patch cables are the preferred cables for connecting patch panels and junction boxes to network stations and active network components. Patch panels are devices where the network cables arrive.

LAN cables

A LAN cable is an unusual term that indicates that it is a patch cable used to establish a connection in the local network (LAN).

Data cables

A network cable is sometimes also called a data cable. However, this term is misleading. The term only indicates that data is transmitted via this cable. In contrast, a power supply cable is used for power supply. The term “network cable” indicates that this cable is used for networking or as part of network cabling. What is transmitted is irrelevant.

Still, the term is generally used, especially in the commercial sector. For more information, check the Newscom data cable installation website.

Installation of network cables

  • Central elements of a cabling system are shielded cables and sockets, as well as special tools for installation.
  • Network cables must always be handled with extreme care and only be stored and installed in dry rooms.
  • Crushing, excessive pressure and pulling must be avoided, as it can reduce the quality and physical properties of the network cables.
  • Edges on the laying section must be smoothed. The manufacturer’s bending radius must be observed so that the properties of the network cable are not affected.
  • The network cables should be unrolled or pulled directly from the cable drum or cable reel and not unwound (changing the cable structure).
  • Network cables should be laid in a cable duct separately from power cables. For example, by means of a separating web.
  • When laying them, the twisted wires of twisted pair cables must not be opened too wide and must not be twisted again, otherwise the cable route will get bad values for the NEXT measurement.
  • The shielded cable network and all metallic components must be included in the potential equalization of the building.

How to find the right network cable for your office

As in many areas, the same applies to network cables: the higher the quality and performance, the more expensive the product. Consumers must therefore ultimately decide for themselves how high their own demands on their home network or the budget available for it are. For most households, however, good solutions can be found at a reasonable price.

  • CAT 1 to 4: Network cables are designated according to the so-called CAT standard. CAT 1 to CAT 4 are older standards that are no longer available in stores today. In the home network, cables of these standards should be replaced if possible.
  • CAT 5: Simple CAT 5 cabling is sufficient for the control of end components in the home network. However, for main data lines, for example between floors or routers, or for supplying servers, the use of cables with a higher operating frequency and a faster transmission speed may be recommended.
  • CAT 6: Due to the high transmission rate of up to 250 MHz and the high speed of up to 10 Gbit/s, CAT-6 cables meet all requirements in the home network. According to the current state of technology, they are therefore the best compromise between high performance and a reasonable purchase price for most households.
  • CAT 6a: With a transmission rate of up to 500 MHz, CAT-6a is slightly more powerful than CAT 6, but also slightly more expensive.
  • CAT 7: In the field of copper cables, CAT 7 is now the benchmark in the private sector. With the best possible shielding and high transmission rates, the cable offers the best possible performance, but also at a significantly higher price. However, as the demands on network systems are likely to continue to increase in the future, you should consider installing CAT 7 cables, especially when renovating or building a house, in order to be optimally equipped for the long term.
  • CAT 8/fibre optic: CAT-8 cables and fibre optic cables are also used in the industrial sector. In the domestic sector, however, such cables are not (yet) of importance.

Introduction to Fiber Optics

Fiber optics is the technology of the future: reliable and high-performance data cabling. It offers physically and technically virtually unlimited capacity for speeds that will meet the growing demand for bandwidth for many decades to come. Copper lines will soon reach their performance limits. This is why businesses now rely on fiber optics as a future-proof technology.

The advantages of optical fibre

With fiber optics, high-speed Internet, HD television, telephony, video on demand or computer games can be accessed simultaneously – all over a single line.

This is made possible by the constant high performance of fiber optics. The line does not have to be shared by several households.

This is the case with current copper-based technology, which severely limits the bandwidth available to individuals.

Fibre optic allows much higher bandwidths than copper lines. Signals can be transmitted much faster in fiber optic cables than in copper cables with up to 40 gigabits per second.

There is also no loss of performance with increasing line length, because glass fiber can continuously guarantee a high bandwidth over very long distances. In contrast, the range of copper lines diminishes rapidly after only a few hundred meters from the cable junction and is then quickly exhausted completely.

Fibre optics allows the same bandwidth both upstream and downstream, which is particularly important for commercial enterprises.

Data transmission in fibre optic cables is insensitive to electromagnetic interference and offers a higher degree of security against tapping than other line networks.

With increasing line length, there is no attenuation in signal quality, which in copper cable, on the other hand, ensures that the data transmission rate decreases with every line meter. This is not the case with fiber optics, because optical networks are ideal means of transporting data.

The advantages at a glance

  • An exclusive connection used only by the respective participant
  • Faster Internet connections than any other transmission technology
  • Highest availability and guaranteed bandwidths up to the gigabit range
  • Insensitive to electromagnetic interference
  • High security against tapping
  • No loss of speed over longer distances

Fibre optics to the Building

The English technical term for this is “Fiber to the Building”, the common abbreviation FttB. With this type of connection, the fibre optic cable is usually routed into the building via the basement.

Within the building, further transmission then takes place either via glass fibre (Fibre to the Home/FttH) or by converting the optical signal to the existing antenna cables or telephone lines. In most cases, a WLAN or powerline network is set up directly at the router.

What is fibre optic?

An optical fibre is a long thin fibre made of high-purity quartz glass.

To manufacture it, thin threads are drawn from a glass melt and processed into a variety of end products. For example, glass fibres are used as optical fibres in glass fibre networks for optical data transmission. Here, the data is encoded as light signals and transmitted through optical lines.

The following comparison shows how powerful glass fibre is:

An optical fibre cable consists of several dozen individual optical fibres. A telephone cable, on the other hand, contains about 1,000 line pairs, each of which can supply a household with telephone and DSL.

In terms of capacity, a single fine fibre optic cable can replace around 40 of the cables in the telephone cable and thus supply many times more households.

How is a fiber optic cable constructed?

A fiber optic cable bundles several dozen optical fibers (3), each of which is nine to 62.5 micrometers thick. The cross-section shows that up to twelve glass fibres can be bundled in one loose tube (2). Up to 24 loose tubes can be present in one fiber optic cable – in this example there are five filled with optical fibers.

If the required number of fibres in the cable is less than the number of possible cores, dummy elements (5) are used. The loose tubes are stranded around a glass fibre reinforced (GRP) central element (4).

The source elements/fillings (1) inserted in the cable core contribute to longitudinal water tightness. Strain relief elements in the PE outer sheath (7) increase the tensile strength.

History of glass fibre development

Since 1870, scientists have been trying to transmit light signals through different media. With the development of the first laser by Theodore Maimann in 1960, light could be transported in a concentrated form through a medium.

The first optoelectronic fiber optic system was invented by Manfred Börner in 1965 and applied for a patent for AEG-Telefunken.

After the glass fibre optics had been further developed, impurities could be removed, which led to transmission losses.

In 1970, the American company Corning Inc. developed and produced the first fibre optic cable that transmitted signals over long distances without major losses.

In 1985, British Telecom transmitted signals without intermediate amplification over a distance of 250 kilometres for the first time.

In 2009, a world record was set over a distance of 580 kilometers: 32 terabits per second were transmitted on a single optical fiber.