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A Deep Dive Into Ethernet Cables

As businesses become more and more online than ever before, ethernet cables play a pivotal role in facilitating online connections. This is because ethernet cables are designed to provide seamless connectivity, high-speed data transfer, and efficient communication. In this guide, we take a look at what ethernet cables are, the types of ethernet cables on the market, What ethernet cables are used for, and how to pick a suitable ethernet cable for 

What are ethernet cables?

Ethernet cables are used daily in many situations, from industrial applications to connecting to the internet. More specifically, an ethernet cable is a cord used to connect devices together on a Network to transfer broadband data. They are mainly used for connecting a laptop or desktop to a router, modem, internet hub, printer, or other wired network-capable peripherals. 

Types of ethernet cables

Ethernet cables come in various categories, and they are labelled as ‘Cat’, which stands for the category of cable. The Cat number ascends in order of cable speed and performance, with the highest Cat number offering the fastest network traffic speed. Some popular types include: 

Cat 5e: Cat 5e cables are among the most used ethernet cables. They are designed to support data transfer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). This makes them suitable for most small office network applications. 

Also Read: Top 5 Reasons To Use Cat6 Bulk Cable Vs. Cat5 Cables

Cat 6: Cat 6 cables are an improvement over Cat 5e and can handle higher data transfer speeds, up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) over shorter distances. 

Cat 6a: Cat 6a cables, otherwise known as Cat 6 Augmented, offer even higher data transfer speeds. More specifically, up to 10 Gbps over longer distances than Cat 6 cables.

Cat 7: Cat 7 cables are designed for high-speed networking and offer data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps.

Cat 8: Cat 8 cables are the latest addition to ethernet cable categories and are designed for extremely high-speed data transfer.

Cat 8.1: Cat 8.1 is a variant of Cat 8 cables designed for use in residential and commercial applications. It supports data transfer speeds of up to 25 Gbps.

What are ethernet cables used for? 

Ethernet cables are used to connect devices together in order to transfer broadband data. A hard-wired connection is made between devices known as a Local Area Network (LAN). This method of connection offers a faster and more reliable speed transfer rate than other alternatives such as Wi-Fi. Ethernet cables can be used to connect portable devices such as printers, scanners, laptops, and more. They can be hard-wired into building structures to provide internet connection from one room to another room, or throughout the entire building as well as using ethernet wall sockets.

How to pick an ethernet cable

When it comes to picking a suitable Ethernet cable for businesses to use, it is important to consider a variety of factors before choosing one. Some factors you may want to consider include the ethernet cable type, its bandwidth requirements, cable length, and more. 

Ethernet cable type

Ethernet cables are typically manufactured in two basic forms. Solid ethernet cables offer slightly better performance and improved protection against electrical interference. They are also commonly used on business networks, wiring inside office walls, or under lab floors to fixed locations. On the other hand, stranded ethernet cables are less prone to physical cracks and breaks, making them more suitable for travellers on in-home network setups.

Bandwidth requirements

Make sure to consider the bandwidth requirements of your network. If you have high data transfer needs, opt for higher categories such as Cat 6a or Cat 7 instead.

Cable length

Ethernet cables have distance limitations. Ensure that the cable length meets the requirements of your network layout. If longer distances are needed, consider fibre optic cables.

Jacket material

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): These are considered jacket materials for general indoor use.

Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH): These are suitable for areas with strict environmental and safety regulations.

CM, CMR, CMP Ratings: Consider the cable’s fire safety ratings based on your installation requirements.

Flexibility and installation environments

Consider the flexibility of the cable and the installation environment. For tight spaces or areas with frequent movement, choose a more flexible cable. 

Brand and quality

Make sure to pick ethernet cables coming from reputable brands, manufacturers and suppliers such as RS Components in order to ensure the reliability and performance of the cables.


Make sure the ethernet cable is compatible with your networking equipment, such as routers, switches, and network interface cards (NICs)


Make sure to anticipate future network upgrades. Choosing a higher category cable than your current needs can provide scalability for future technologies.

Bottom line

Overall, we have taken a look at the types of ethernet cables available, as well as what it is used for. We also go over the factors to consider before picking an ethernet cable, letting businesses make better-informed decisions. By understanding the nuances of ethernet cables, businesses can also lay the foundation of robust and reliable connectivity, ensuring that their networks serve as agile conduits for communication, data transfer, and collaboration. As such, ethernet cables are becoming essential for businesses looking to maintain a competitive edge in the digital era.