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What cables do I need for Wi-Fi?

Types of Internet Cables for Wi-Fi

There are a few choices of cabling when looking at supply WiFi devices. The choice of cable will depend on the speed requirements and the type of Wi-Fi product chosen. Firstly we have a look at the types of internet cables for Wi-Fi. These are generally in three types in main stream installations. However all cables have a large amount of similarities

Twisted pairs and RJ-45 connectors

Typically Twisted-pair Ethernet cables are constructed of eight copper insulated wires in a plastic sleeve. Two wires are twisted collectively in a pair for four pairs, and then the four teams are twisted together to structure the cable. The twists and couples affect specific cable’s overall performance traits. For example crosstalk, attenuation, and electromagnetic interference (EMI).

Crosstalk occurs when an electrical sign transmitted over one wire negatively influences the electrical signal transmitted over any other wire. Attenuation is the regular loss of intensity of an electrical signal as it travels above the wire. EMI is noise (unwanted electrical signals) generated between the wires using electrical signals transmitted.

A clear plastic jack, regarded as an RJ-45 connector, is connected to both ends of the twisted-pair Ethernet cable. An RJ-45 connector appears very comparable to a phone jack (which recognize as an RJ-11 connector)

Twisted-pair Ethernet cabling commonly refers to as  Ethernet, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7, or UTP cable. Technically, Ethernet is wiring and signalling fashionable that covers many cabling technologies. Therefore Cat5e for example is one category of several accessible categories. UTP is one of two feasible types regarding outer shielding and protection. However, these phrases are frequently understood to refer to twisted-pair Ethernet cabling.

Categories of twisted-pair cables

There are quite a few classes of twisted-pair cabling, but only three that regularly use for Ethernet networks: Category 5e (Cat5e), Category 5e (Cat5e, or Cat5 Enhanced). In addition Category 6 (Cat6). Lastly Cat6a or Cat6 Augmented

Cat7 is now also starting to been seen more commonly but its still not being installed in large installations for offices and Wi-Fi. However it is more commonly seen in data centres and for specialist installations such as Audio Visual

The performance characteristics of Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 are as follows:

1. Cat5e Data Cabling

Cat5e cabling has been the minimum standard for over 20 years and is still a popular choice in many installations. It is limited to a maximum bandwidth of 100mhz and an internet speed of 1 Gigabit. This is applicable for all lengths of cabling installations upto 90m with patch leads and 100m for a direct cabling link

2. Cat6 Data Cabling

Cat6 cabling increases the bandwidth capability of Cat5e from 100Mhz to 250Mhz. However over the standardised industry ratification it also has a maximum internet speed of 1 Gigabit over 90m and 100m. However it has the capability of handling 10 gigabit speeds up to 55m. Therefore it is recommended when designing a structured cabling installation that the whole system is based on the 90m link for standardisation

Structred cabling routes don’t always follow the expected routes and on site changes are frequent. Therefore you may find a designed cabling run of less of 55m now exceeds that. You then lose the 10 gigabit speed straight down to 1 gigabit

3. Cat6a Data Cabling

Industry wide Cat6a data cabling is the standard for 10 gigabit speeds. It will also at the ratified distance of 90m and 100m produce 10 gigabit speeds. If your Wi-Fi units are 10 gigabit enabled or require 10 gigabit backbone cabling then Cat6a is the minimum for installation

Cat6a cable due to its construction is also better enabled to handle PoE power distribution to the Wi-Fi units which is a major part of all Wi-Fi access points

Comparison Chart of Data Cabling Types

Cat5 vs Cat5e Cabling comparison chart

Unshielded versus shielded cables

Twisted-pair Ethernet cabling can also be unshielded (standard) or shielded (not so common). Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cables are the most commonly installed cabling in enterprise networks and Wi-Fi. It is significantly cheaper and a great deal more excellent flexible than shielded twisted-pair (STP) cabling.

STP cabling is more expensive and much less pliable than UTP cabling. It is used more often in industrial environments and noisy environments susceptible to excessive electromagnetic interference (EMI). The character pairs of wires in STP cables wrap in foil or another metallic shielding. An outer metallic defensive may also cover the entire group of twisted pairs (beneath the outer sleeve).

Length and colour of patch cables

When choosing patch for your network, you additionally need to consider length and color:


Twisted-pair Ethernet cables come in well-known lengths such as 3, 5, 7, and 10 feet. More extended sizes are available, and you can also have customized cable lengths made. The distance between your various community devices and your network change or router will decide the length you need. However the standards allow for a 90m permanent link from the cabinet to the device and 5m patch leads each end. However we see longer patch leads used at the user end when moving devices which then reduces the overall link length allowance. In most cases this won’t present a problem but keep in mind when running longer links to Wi-Fi access points


Twisted-pair Ethernet patch cables are available in many colors. We advise that your systems are colour coded for ease of identification in your network cabinets. Common colours are Blue for Network, Yellow for Phone etc. In addition assign a separate colour for each of your Wi-Fi access points. Furthermore when installing the cabling put them all on a dedicated patch panel. This allows for easier management of the Wi-Fi network




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