Whether you’re in a small office or a large corporate enterprise environment, it’s likely you’re using the Internet every day to receive emails, complete tasks, provide research, and so much more.  The way you connect to the Internet in your office, however, may make the difference between lightning-fast connectivity or slow downloads and spotty connections.

Making sure your office, be it small scale or enterprise level, is cabled with the right Ethernet as this can make all the difference in speed and reliable connectivity. So, what is the right type of cable to use and what are the differences in the various forms of Ethernet available today?

As a managed IT services provider, Natural Networks provides cable management services to our clients throughout our surrounding area.  We are happy to help share with you the benefits of having an up-to-date Ethernet layout for your office.

What are the Benefits and Fallbacks of Hardwire Ethernet?

Most offices today offer two distinct ways of connecting to the internet for their employees.  These two forms of connectivity come in the way of wireless (aka WiFi) or direct connection via an Ethernet cable.  But what are the benefits that Ethernet offers over WiFi, and what’s the right type of Ethernet cable to use for your office’s cable runs?

First, the obvious distinction between these two ways of connecting to the Internet is that one requires a physical Ethernet cable to go from your computer back to the network equipment and then out to the larger Internet whereas a wireless connection does not require a physical cable between your computer and the network.  Wireless connectivity offers greater mobility but comes at the cost of reliability, speed, and security.

A direct Ethernet connection will always offer a stronger connection to the Internet, the greatest possible speed in your local network and to the Internet, and is not subject to security risks that traditional wireless connections are suspectable to, such as ‘Man-In-The-Middle’ attacks.

Workers at your office should always have the option of connecting to the Internet via an Ethernet connection at their desk, and wireless should be utilized for visitors over a guest-wireless connection, or when employees need to move away from their desks with their devices.

What are the Differences in Ethernet Cables?

Ethernet cables come in two main flavors today: Category 5 (Cat 5e) and Category 6 (Cat 6) Ethernet cable. Cat5e Ethernet is an older cable form that is slowly being replaced with Cat6 Ethernet.  The main distinctions between these two cable forms are found in their handling of connection speed, bandwidth, crosstalk, and cable length.

  • Speed – Cat5e Ethernet cable performs at 100 Mhz which is capable of speeds of up to 1-Gigabit at max. Cat 6 Ethernet performs at up to 250 Mhz, which allows for up to 10-gigabit Ethernet speeds, that’s 10x higher possible speeds.
  • Bandwidth – Cat 6 Ethernet cable is capable of processing more data at the same time versus Cat5e cables. This is because Cat 6 operates at 250 Mhz compared to Cat5e’s 100 Mhz.  This means that more data can be transferred over a Cat6 Ethernet line compared to Cat5e.  Think of it as comparing a 2-lane highway to a 4-lane highway.  You can travel at the same speed on both highways but the 4-lane highway can handle more traffic.
  • Crosstalk – If you ever physically slice open an Ethernet cable, you will see that it’s made up of 8 different wires twisted into 4 pairs each. The way that Cat6 Ethernet is able to achieve 250 Mhz performance is by using a nylon spline which runs between these 4 wire pairs, thus, isolating them and preventing crosstalk.

    Furthermore, Cat6 Ethernet cables also adhere to stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise.  Cat6 provides lower interference or Near End Crosstalk in transmission compared to Cat5e.  It also improves Equal-Level-Far-End Crosstalk, Return Loss, and Insertion Loss.  This results in significantly less system noise, fewer errors and higher data transmission rates.

  • Maximum Length – Both Cat5e and Cat6 cable types offer lengths up to 100 meters. Going beyond this length can result in degraded speeds and network performance.  These limitations can be overcome by using switches or repeaters to enhance signal strength along the cable run.

Whether you are looking to cable a new office you’re moving into, or overhaul the current cabling in your office, Natural Networks is always ready to help.  If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call today!