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Network Cables and Connector Types


In OSI 7 layer model, the Physical layer defines the Networking hardware pertaining to transmitting the electrical (or optical) signals. A major component in this layer is the physical medium that carries the data. This Physical medium is typically a Network cable with appropriate connector.

Digital & Analog Signaling:

Digital: Data is transmitted in pulses (electrical signals on/off)

Analog: Data is transmitted through continues wave with variations in amplitude, frequency and Phase.

Baseband & Broadband Signaling:

Baseband: This is the common signaling mechanism in LAN. It uses a single channel to transmit digital signals.

Boradband: Uses multiple channels to transmit Analog signals with varying frequency. It can carry voice,data and video.

Network Cables

Four major types:

  1. Coaxial
  2. Twinaxial
  3. Twisted Pair
  4. Fiber Optic


  1. Coaxial


Single, solid copper wire core, surrounded by an insulator (Teflon or Plastic), braided metal shielding and metal foil wrap, all covered with Plastic sheath.


Broadband networks, Satellite and Cable TV Receivers


Durable construction.

Less Electro Magnetic and Radio Frequency interference

Two types:

  1. Thick Net

    Also known as RG8 or RG11. Uses a screw type connector known as Attachment Unit Interface (AUI)

  2. Thin Net

    Uses BNC connector (Bayonet    Neill-Concelman connector). Also known as RG58


  1. Twinaxial


Similar to Coaxial but has two solid copper wire cores.


SAN (Storage Area Network) and to connect critical routers and switches.


Very high throughput over short distance (10Gbits/Sec).

Lower Transceiver latency.

Lower Power Consumption.

Lower Bit Error Ration

  1. Twisted Pair


Consists of four pairs of copper wire that are twisted together. Tighter the twisted pair, better the transmission speed.

It can be shielded (STP) or unshielded (UTP). UTP is more common because it is less expensive.


Ethernet, Analog phone lines.


Cheap, Easy maintenance, light.

Cable types:

Category Data Type Speed
Cat 1 Voice only
Cat 2 Data 4 Mbits/Sec (Token Ring Networks)
Cat 3 Data and Voice 10 Mbits/Sec (Ethernet)
Cat 4 Data 20 Mbits/Sec
Cat 5 Data 100 Mbits/Sec (Ethernet)
Cat 5e Data 1000 Mbits/Sec at 100 MHz (Ethernet)
Cat 6 Data 1000 Mbits/Sec at 250 MHz (Ethernet)
Cat 6a Data 10 Gbits/Sec at 500 MHz (Ethernet)
Cat 7 Data 10 Gbits/Sec at 600 MHz, upto 100 meters (Ethernet)
Cat 7a Data 100 Gbits/Sec at 1000 MHz upto 15 meters (Ethernet


Connector types:

RJ11 – Used for analog telephone lines

RJ45 – Used for Ethernet

RJ49 – Use for ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) and WAN interfaces

  1. Fiber Optic


Glass core surrounded by cladding and protected by PVC or Teflon outer sheath. Fiber Optic cable carries data as light signals rather than electrical signals.

The cable is terminated with SC, ST or LC type connectors.

It can be shielded (STP) or unshielded (UTP). UTP is more common because it is less expensive.


FDDI and Backbone Networks.


High Speed. Resistance to interception and interference. Long Distances.


Ethernet Designations:

Ethernet designations identifies the characteristics of the Network

Consider couple of examples as shown below.

  1. 10Base-2
  • 10 refers to the speed, i.e 10 MBits/Sec
  • Base refers to the band, i.e Baseband
  • 2 refers to the maximum distance this cable supports, i.e 200 meters
  1. 100Base-T
  • 100Mbits/Sec
  • BaseBand
  • Twisted Pair cable
  1. 100Base-F
  • 100MbitsSec
  • BaseBand
  • Fiber Optic Cable

EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference)/RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) resistance rating

The following table shows the EMI/RFI rating for various types of cables

Cable EMI/RFI Resistance
Coaxial Thinnet Good
Coaxial Thicknet Better
Twisted Pair UTP (Unshielded) Poor
Twisted Pair UTP (Shielded) Fair to Good
Fiber Optic Best




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