What's an Ethernet Cable? | Resources
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What is an Ethernet Cable?

Cables can be confusing. But, once you know a few basics, the rest falls into place.

One of the most basic cables to know and identify is an Ethernet cable. An Ethernet cable is the most standard type of cable to connect your router to your Internet service provider’s network. They’re typically thicker cables, with two identical ports on either end.

What does an Ethernet cable do?

All an Ethernet cable is responsible for is connecting your home network to your Internet provider’s network.

Ethernet cables are categorized in a couple different ways, but the most common ones you’ll probably encounter are category 5, 5e, and 6.

  • Category 5: This type of cable (sometimes called a Cat5) supports speeds less than 100 Mbps (fiber optic connections are really the only ones that consistently provide speeds faster than 100 Mbps). It’s an older type of Ethernet cable compared to some of the faster and more capable cables.
  • Category 5e: An improved version of the Cat5, the Cat5e cuts down on interference you might experience with the Cat5. Because it cuts down on that type of wire chatter, you can get faster speeds.
  • Category 6: Cat6 Ethernet cables are a step up from the Cat5e. It has slightly better improvements when it comes to shutting down interference, and can even support 10-Gigabit speeds in some areas. Cat6 Ethernet cables also have thinner wires, providing a better signal-to-noise ratio.

These are just a few basic categories of Ethernet cables. You could also run into other types, like a crossover cable, which is specialized to connect two computers.

Ethernet cables today

Ethernet cables have one big limitation: they only extend certain distances. That means your computer has to be connected to the Ethernet cable at all times, and since Ethernet cables only stretch so far, you have to stick close by.

That’s why more and more people go wireless. It eliminates the need for a physical cable to get online.

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