Cabling Glossary

Ethernet Cables - The cables used to connect the devices in a computer network including modems, routers, servers, workstations, etc. Various types of Ethernet cable can be specified to satisfy different requirements.

for HIM communications currently recommends Category 5e Cable for most applications.

The cable type is typically printed on the cable.

Major Categories of Ethernet Cables:

Category 3 (Cat 3) - One of the oldest forms of Ethernet cable. It is an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable capable of carrying 10 Mbps of data or voice transmissions. Its maximum possible bandwidth is 16 MHz. It can be found in older two-line telephone systems and 10BASE-T Ethernet installations. Cables may include different numbers of twisted pairs of wires, depending on their application.

Category 5 (Cat 5) - Also known as Fast Ethernet cables. The successor to the earlier Category 3. Cat 5 cables introduced the 10/100 Mbps speed rating standard to the Ethernet, meaning that they can support either 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps speeds. Cat 5 cables contain four twisted pairs of wires, two of of which provide the cable's Fast Ethernet capability. In addition to network data, they also can be used for telephone signals and video.

Category 5e (Cat 5e) - An enhanced version of Cat 5 cable optimized to reduce the unwanted transmission of signals between data channels. Cat 5e cable works for 10/100 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps (Gigabit) Ethernet. It has become the most widely used category of Ethernet cable. Cat 5e uses its four twisted pairs of wires to enabe Gigabit Ethernet speeds. Cat 5e cables can support a maximum bandwidth of 100 MHz. Cat5e cables are backward-compatible with Cat5 cables.

Category 6 (Cat 6)- While Cat 5e cables can handle Gigabit Ethernet speeds, Cat 6 cables are certified to handle Gigabit Ethernet and provide a bandwidth of up to 250 MHz. The improvements that distinguish Cat 6 cable include better insulation and thinner wires. Cat 6 cable offers an better signal-to-noise ratio, and can be specified for environments in which there may be higher electromagnetic interference. For most applications, a Cat5e cable is adequate for Gigabit Ethernet and much less expensive than Cat 6 cable. Cat6 cable is also backward-compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 5e cables.

Category 6a (Cat 6a) - Improves upon the Cat 6 cable by providing data transmission rates up tp 10,000 Mbps effectively doubling the maximum bandwidth to 500 MHz. Cat 6a cables are usually provided in STP form, requiring specialized connectors that ground the cable.

Category 7 (Cat 7) - Also known as Class F, is a fully shielded cable that supports speeds of up to 10 Gbps (10,000 Mbps) and bandwidths of up to 600 MHz. Cat 7 cables consist of a screened, shielded twisted pair (SSTP) of wires. The layers of insulation and shielding contained within them are more extensive than that of Cat6 cables. The shielding makes them thicker, bulkier, and are more difficult to bend. To ensure proper performance, each shielding layer must be grounded. If not properly installed, their performance may be severely comprimsed.

Fiber Optic Cable - Cable containing one or more optical fibers that are used to carry light. The optical fiber elements are typically individually coated with plastic layers and contained in a protective tube suitable for the environment where the cable will be deployed. Different types of cable are used for different applications. Typical applications include long distance telecommunication and high-speed data connection between different parts of a building.

Coaxial Cable (Coax) - A type of cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer. That layer is then surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cable differs from other shielded cable used for carrying lower-frequency signals, in that the dimensions of the cable are controlled to give a precise, constant conductor spacing, which is needed for it to function efficiently as a Coaxial cable is used as a transmission line for radio frequency signals. Its applications include feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network (Internet) connections, digital audio (S/PDIF), and distributing cable television signals. One advantage of coaxial over other types of radio transmission line is that in an ideal coaxial cable, the electromagnetic field carrying the signal exists only in the space between the inner and outer conductors. This allows coaxial cable runs to be installed next to metal objects such as gutters without the power losses that occur. Coaxial cable also provides protection of the signal from external electromagnetic interference.

HDMI Cable (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) - A proprietary audio/video interface for transferring uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from an HDMI-compliant source device, such as a display controller, to a compatible computer monitor, video projector, digital television, or digital audio device. It is a digital replacement for analog video standards.

VGA Cable (Video Graphics Array) - One of the oldest connection standards, it can still be found in various systems. A VGA cable can carry RGBHV video signals: Red, Green, Blue, Horizontal Sync, and Vertical Sync. The VGA socket is made up of 15 pins in three rows of five pins, and is typically colored blue. The cable socket is secured to its connectors the device using two screws, one on each side of the socket.

RCA Cable - The familiar red, white, and yellow cables were was once the most popular connection type for audio/visual devices. While they are commonly referred to as RCA cables, RCA actually refers to the metal connectors at the end of the cables. The red and white cables are for audio. The yellow cable is for single channel composite video.

DVI Cable (Digital Visual Interface) - The successor to VGA, DVI can transmit uncompressed digital video in one of three different modes: DVI-I (Integrated) combines digital and analog in the same connector; DVI-D (Digital) supports digital signals only; and DVI-A (Analog) supports analog only. DVI-I and DVI-D are available in single or dual-link varieties. Single-link can support 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution at 60 Hz. Adding a second digital transmitter for dual-link increases the resolution to 2560 x 1600 pixels at 60 Hz.

HDMI Cable (High Definition Media Input) - HDMI was created by a group of electronics manufacturers — including Sony, Sanyo, and Toshiba — to transfer video (uncompressed) and audio (either uncompressed or eight-channel compressed) to computer monitors, digital TVs, and DVD or Blu-ray players. HDMI 1.4, it can support 24-bit uncompressed audio at 192 kHz and video resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 - also known as 4K or Ultra HD.

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