How Are Copper Cables Used in Networking?
Businesses grow. Technology advances. And the need to move data over great distances grows exponentially every year, so much so that figures show 90% of the data worldwide was created only in the last two years . These are the realities companies face as they scale their information technology infrastructures, and to address their needs, companies are having to determine data usage and what wiring and cabling solutions will work for them. While many companies will jump immediately to fiber optic cabling, there are some very specific use cases where the installation of copper data cables is a better solution.
Copper Data Cables Useful In the Absence of Options
Prior to the advent of fiber optic cabling in the 1970s and 1980s, the dominant method of wiring for voice and telecommunications was the use of copper-based cables. While bandwidth limitations drove copper cabling out of the spotlight, it remains a viable network cabling solution in rural markets. There are still areas across the United States that haven’t been wired for fiber optics. In these cases, copper data cables are the standard, given the cost-effectiveness of using existing cabling to connect network devices.
A Core Component of Cables used to Connect Devices to Network Equipment
The proliferation of fiber optic cabling in networking hasn’t completely eliminated the role of copper data cabling. While speeds and data integrity are diminished over significant distances, fidelity of the signal over copper is adequate for use in a data cable to connect a computer to a router or modem or to connect a wall outlet to a central router. The standard in this case, twisted pair cables, or unshielded twisted pairs UTP) require a star-type architecture for networks, a setup where all computers connect via UTP copper cabling to a central network hub or switch. A benefit of using such a setup is data security, as it’s difficult for data thieves to gain the direct access to the physical cable they would need in order to compromise the connection.
Durability of Copper In Industrial Settings
While data transfer speeds and the ability to retain data integrity over great distances make fiber optic data cabling the best option for data centers and cloud service providers, industrial industry consumers are more concerned with protecting the wiring of their ethernet systems. Enter Cat5e and Cat6/Cat6a cabling, copper-based options that provide gigabit speeds at fractions of the cost with the added sheathing and durability of newer Cat6/Cat6a cabling protecting data integrity by reducing or eliminating sources of data packet loss such as near-end crosstalk (NeXT) and alien crosstalk (AXT). While advances in fiber optic network cabling have led to newer industrial plants increasing the use of fiber optics, few companies are prepared to invest in full conversions of existing networks built on copper cabling. There are improved Cat7 cables available on the market, and Cat8 versions of this form of cabling soon to go into widespread distribution, both designed to extend the distance data can be transmitted before data loss becomes an issue.
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