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Choose the Right Cables for Your Business Data Network

Ethernet Cable
The cabling you use for your LAN and other network connections matter a great deal. You want reliability, but you also want speed. One of the first things you'll notice when attempting to wire your business network is an overabundance of data cable types.

Ethernet Cables Aren't All the Same

Ethernet cables come in categories. Understand a little about those categories to get the most out of your business network. Not all categories of these cables are viable. Here are the ones worth considering:
  • Cat5 - Mostly defunct but can work in smaller offices or home offices. You can't usually find Cat5, even if you're specifically looking for it, because it was mostly phased out in favor of Cat5e.

  • Cat5e - This category of cable can handle most phone and data transmission needs for smaller businesses. The specifications of the 5e are an improvement on the 5 and can handle up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps), according to Digital Trends.

  • Cat6 - These cables improve on the 5e specifications by reducing noise and interference. Also, Cat6 provides a more consistent connection for gigabit transfers, especially over longer distances.

  • Cat6a - Most midsized and smaller businesses won't need Cat6a, but these cables are fine for futureproofing your network. This category of cable can handle 10 Gbps. If you have a data center, server farm, or a very large office, this category is the one you'll want.
You can't buy any Ethernet cables with the assumption they will work for your networking hardware. Even if they do work, you may have hardware you can't take full advantage of because you have inadequate cables.

Your business must have adequate wiring to accommodate all of your network-connected devices. Most modern equipment supports gigabit transfers, and it doesn't cost much more to use cabling that can handle it.

Cat5e, 6, and 6a will work for any small to mid-sized business. If you plan to grow at your current location, consider starting with 6a and using hardware that can take advantage of it. If your location already has older networking wiring, upgrade to the best solution currently available if you own the facility.

Ethernet Cables You Should Avoid

Other categories exist, but they're either not viable for a business (Cat1-4), or are only theoretically viable at this point (Cat7 and 8). For example, you could once run a network with Cat3 cables. Some facilities still have Cat3 wiring. If you inherited built-in Cat3 wiring, you need to upgrade immediately. 

Cat3 is obsolete and not even part of many networking specifications anymore. At its best, Cat3 can only transmit data up to 10Mbps.

Ethernet Cables or Wi-Fi

You may wonder why you should place so much emphasis on Ethernet when you can go wireless. You can do a lot with a wireless network, and there's nothing wrong with using one. It comes down to the data needs of your business.

Ethernet provides dependable stability, superior security, and unrivaled speeds. Wireless connections give you flexibility and convenience. You can use both types of technology for your business.

A good idea is to use Ethernet for your most important or backbone operations. For example, your servers and anything hosting your databases should make use of a permanent physical network connection. For everyday work and operations, you can use a wireless connection.

Every business has unique network requirements. Because of that, you should consult with a knowledgeable networking solutions provider. At Alamo Communications, Inc., we can help you figure out how best to wire your business network. To learn more about our variety of excellent networking solutions for businesses, contact us today.

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