3 Different Internet Cable Types: The Major Cables Used in Networking

Hi there! Whether streaming movies, video chatting with friends across the globe, or checking the latest viral memes, most online activities would not be possible without some key unsung heroes – networking cables!

I want to give you an insider‘s overview into the major cable types that literally wire the modern world together. Because behind every hilarious cat video or selfie snap shared online, bundles of cables work silently to make global data sharing possible on this scale.

Trust me, after 20 years working in telecommunications infrastructure, I‘ve seen my fair share of cables! My goal today is to decode the acronym soup like CAT5, RG-6 and OM4 to showcase how fundamental cabling enables the digital experiences we love.

Why Cabling Forms the Blood vessels of the Internet

Before jumping into nitty-gritty details on coaxial, fiber or twisted pair specimens, it helps to level-set on why data cables matter so much.

See, the internet is not a fluffy cloud as early diagrams depicted. It‘s a globally interconnected series of very real, very physical networks – thousands of miles of land and underwater communications cables shuttling our pictures, messages and video calls around the planet at light speed.

Servers connect this labyrinth of cables worldwide. But without cabling literally providing the vessels to transfer information, the internet concept remains stuck inside computers rather than shared across society!

So whether from weather sensors in Antarctica to stock traders in Hong Kong accessing Wall Street, seemingly magic digital connections rely on real cables running through trenches, conduits and shorelines worldwide.

And as our collective internet usage explodes exponentially each year, better cabling compounds this tremendous growth. Using more advanced fibers and wire compositions exponentially expands total bandwidth capacity to enable our digital lives.

Okay, enough high level perspective! Let‘s dig into the good stuff comparing cable varieties head-to-head. Grab your favorite beverage first, because this gets deliciously nerdy…

Coaxial Cable: The Internet Workhorse Across Decades

Believe it or not, the same coaxial cable variety powering today‘s broadband internet also delivered many childhood TV memories decades ago! First used commercially in 1941, this ingeniously simple technology has adapted across generations to link modern society.

See, traditional coax cable contains:

  • Hollow copper core conductor – carries radio/electric signals
  • Non-conductive dielectric insulator – prevents signal leakage
  • Woven copper shielding – blocks external interference
  • Protective outer jacket – safeguards cable innards

Coaxial cable diagram

Early telephone pioneers realized coax‘s potential for long distance calls pre-fiber. Broadcast antenna cables used the same principles to carry TV magic into homes for the first time!

Now fast forward to millions watching Sunday football in brilliant 4K clarity. Here‘s the crazy part – still the same coax lines often bring this modern experience to life!

See, new standards like DOCSIS 4.0 help cable networks match growing internet appetite – nearly 10 Gbps speeds on existing cables originally installed for analog TV decades back!

Not Just Broadband: Coax Use Cases Across Industries

Beyond powering internet providers, business uses coaxial cable everywhere high frequency signal transmission is needed, like:

  • Satellite TV networks – from teleports to dishes in the backyard
  • Connecting radio communications towers
  • Old school thick Ethernet networking before UTP cables dominated
  • Automotive sensor systems, aviation, robotics and advanced manufacturing
  • Financial trading data links connecting Wall Street to global markets
  • Security camera and access control systems

The list expands almost daily thanks to coax flexibility crossing industries. Below compares popular varieties for different installations:

SpecRG-59 CableRG-6 CableRG-11 Cable
Conductor diameter0.064 inches0.040 inches0.108 inches
Use CaseShorter indoor runs like CCTVOutdoor connections to dish antennasLong haul or underground links
Max Speed @ 100 ft2 Gbps3 Gbps10 Gbps
Price per Foot$0.08$0.28$1.56

So while humble old coax won‘t break broadband speed records, improved versions keep pace with modern networks at friendly budgets!

Onwards to the next generation…

Fiber Optic Cable: Blazing Internet & Global Networks at the Speed of Light

When coaxial copper stretches capacity limits, more connections turn to thinner-than-hair glass fibers rapidly pulsing lasers carrying bandwidth bounties inside.

This miracle of physics seeds the highest speed internet and private networks on Earth – called fiber optic technology.

You see, traditional cables use electricity or radio waves to transit data. But pioneering 1970s researchers in the UK realized bending light through glass enabled incredibly fast, long distance connections.

How? By encoding data as flickering light pulses shot through transparent fiber cores. Unlike fragile glass though, clever coatings actually strengthen these threads to easily route across towns or between continents!

Fiber Optic Cable anatomy

Now, there are two primary fiber optic cable grades:

Single Mode Fiber – One tiny ~9 micron core propagates a single ray of light – ideal for extra long runs.

Multi-Mode Fiber – Using multiple beams through wider 50+ micron cores works well across shorter campus links.

Depending on grade, fibers sustain 100 Gbps+ speeds even entering miles range distances! And advanced connections called "wave division multiplexing" stack multiple colors of light down a single fiber simultaneously – multiply capacity exponentially!

Compare that to early multi-mode links moving 100 Mbps for perspective on this innovational journey!

And fiber transmission capacity continues skyrocketing dramatically year over year…

Fiber speed milestones

Blazing Fiber Adoption Rising Globally

Fiber makes up the hidden backbone shuttling vast oceans of data worldwide daily – you just can‘t beat light speed and raw capacity!

Beyond public cable internet providers, private enterprise networks ride the fiber optic wave as well:

Global fiber optic market growth

And global undersea fiber linking continents clocks speed boosts allowing real-time collaboration across the planet:

Submarine global fiber network map

No wonder global data demand continues doubling each year with infrastructure evolving this dramatically!

Which brings us to the final cable variety making hyper-connected experiences possible inside homes and buildings worldwide…

Twisted Pair Cable: The Unsung Local Networking Hero

The previous varieties excel shuttling data across cities and continents. But for everyday personal devices, a third flexible cabling category connects the final few feet locally:

Meet Twisted Pair cable (TP) – the literal foundation wiring offices, campuses, homes and practically any indoor network these days!

You likely know these certified cables as Cat5, Cat6, Cat7 and so on. What‘s inside? Color coded copper sub-cables precisely twisted together within protective jacketing:

Inside twisted pair cable

Why twisted? The innnovative crosstalk reduction lets independent signals flow through adjacent pairs inside a single cable without interference!

This makes twisted pair ideal for short local runs – connecting desktop computers to the office network, home TVs to streaming boxes and wireless access points to broadband modems.

Cat5e variants already support 1 Gbps typical of modern LAN and WiFi speeds. But with specs advancing, new Category 8 TP cables achieve an incredible 40Gbps for under $10 a meter!

I‘ll decode the most common TP cable grades here:

SpecCat 5e CableCat 6 CableCat 7 CableCat 8 Cable
Max Speed1 Gbps10 Gbps10 Gbps40 Gbps
Max Length328 ft328 ft328 ft230 ft
Typical UseHome/office networksData centersHigh EMI areasFuture bandwidth needs

So the next time you‘re video conferencing with remote colleagues or battling goblins in VR, take comfort in twisted pair‘s shielding keeping connections reliably streaming!

Alright, hopefully you now glimpse the deeper realm underneath powering our digitally transformed age! Please hit reply back for any other cabling questions arise on your mind. Talk soon!

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