Ethernet is a type of wired network media that allows data to be transferred between devices connected to both LANs (Local Area Network) and WANs (Wide Area Network. It is the most common type of wired connection within a LAN.
Ethernet cables use copper wires to transfer data between devices. These wires are organised into ‘twisted pairs’ each enclosed inside it’s own non-conductive shield.
The two main types of ethernet cable in use today are:
CAT 5 – Up to 100Mbps (megabits per second)
CAT 6 – Up to 1000Mbps (megabits per second)
The main difference between the two types of ethernet cable is the bandwidth (the volume of data that can be transferred at once). Whilst CAT5 transfer at 100 Mbps, CAT6 transfers data at 1000Mbps – that’s quite a significant difference!
The term ‘ethernet’ is in fact the protocol used to send data back and forth along this highly popular network cable. Cat5 cable remains the more popular cable in many local area networks as it has sufficient bandwidth to enable most modern networks to run smoothly. However, when larger volumes of data are required (for example in gaming, or streaming video), CAT6 would be more appropriate.
Both versions of ethernet cable remain cheaper, and easier to install than fibre optic which means that most wired networks that you encounter will use ethernet.
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