Home > Articles > Certification > Cisco Certification > CCENT

LAN Network Cable Media and Connectors

  • Print
  • + Share This
This article takes a look at the LAN network cable media that is typically installed in most environments and the different connectors that are often used.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

When coming into the networking or Internet Technology (IT) field, it is often overwhelming, this is because there are so many different things that are expected to be known upfront. A common entry position is user support; this position requires that the individual have at least decent personal skills and at a minimum, a working knowledge of the systems the users utilize. These systems often include an operating system, a workstation, and a LAN connection to internal networking resources. This article takes a look at the LAN network cable media that is typically installed in most environments and the different connectors that are often used.

Cable Media

There are a number of different cabling types that a network engineer/administrator sees over the course of their career. New individuals coming in to the field have to be familiar with a number of different cables and connectors to be prepared for their day-to-day activities. The following cabling media types will be most commonly seen in LAN environments.

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)

The most common type of cable is Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP); as the name suggests, this type of cable includes an unshielded media that includes twisted pairs. Specifically, UTP includes four different pairs of copper cables that are each twisted together; the twisted rate depends on the specific category of cable. Figure 1 shows an example of UTP cabling:

Figure 1 Unshielded Twisted Pair Cabling

Most networks in the last 15 years or so have included UTP cabling that is at least rated as category 5; this cabling supports Ethernet data rates up to 100 Mbps. On modern networks that have been deployed recently, it is common to install at least a category 6 cable with support for up to 1000 Mbps; Table 1 shows a short list of the available UTP categories and their supported rates.

Table 1: UTP Cabling Categories

Category

Frequency Bandwidth

Typical Technologies Supported

5

100 MHz

100 Mbps Ethernet (100-Base-TX)

5e

100 MHz

100 Mbps Ethernet (100-Base-TX) and 1000 Mbps Ethernet (1000-Base-T)

6

250 MHz

1000 Mbps Ethernet (1000-Base-T)

6a

500 MHz

1000 Mbps Ethernet (1000-Base-T) and 10 Gbps Ethernet (10GBase-T)

Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)

Another type of twisted pair cabling includes a shield that is used to both contain and protect the different twisted pairs from interference. This type of cabling is not commonly seen in modern LAN networks deployments at the time of this writing; however some newer very high speed Ethernet technologies may require a cable that has a shield and thus will be shown here.

The term STP can include a number of different cable types which all include a shielding mechanism. Some cable types include a shield only between the different twisted pairs within the cable and others include various shielding types both around the pairs and the whole cable; the specifics will not be covered in this article. Figure 2 shows an example of an STP cable that has a shield between the pairs and the whole cable:

Figure 2 Shielded Twisted Pair Cabling

Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF)

A very common type of fiber connection is Multi-Mode fiber (MMF); this type of cable uses light to transmit signals between devices and is thus not susceptible to electrical interference. MMF cables use a larger internal core diameter (typically, 50 µm or 62.5 µm) and can utilize lower cost LEDs for transmission; this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. While the larger core diameter offers a cable that supports multiple modes and a cable that is easier to work with (light coming into the cable is allowed to come in at multiple angles), it is also limited by the same factors in terms of total useable cable length. MMF cables are typically only used for connections that are less than 2 kilometers in length; this also makes it a very common cable in LAN deployments. Figure 3 below shows an example of a MMF cable:

Figure 3 Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF) Cable

Single Mode Fiber (SMF)

Like Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF), Single Mode Fibers (SMF) transmits signals via light and is not subject to electrical interference. The difference between SMF and MMF is in their physical characteristics; a MMF cable has a large core diameter and is able to accept a number of different modes that come into the cable from multiple angles, SMF has a much smaller core diameter (typically 8-10 µm) and accepts signals coming in from a specific angle and on a specific mode. The specifics of how the light propagate within the cable are really outside the scope of required knowledge of an entry level network engineer/administrator; what does need to be known is that MMF is typically used for shorter cable runs (up to 2 km typically) and SMF can be used for cable runs of very long distances (typically up to ~40 miles without repeaters depending on wavelength). Figure 4 below shows an example of a SMF fiber:

Figure 4 Single-Mode Fiber (SMF) Cable

Connectors

With all the different types of cabling come a number of different cable connectors. This section takes a look at the most common cabling connectors.

Registered Jack 45 (RJ45)

The cable connector that is found on almost all UTP and STP cables is a Registered Jack 45 which is mostly commonly referred to as RJ45. This type of connector resembles the older RJ11 connectors that most people are familiar with from wired telephones. Figure 5 below shows an example of a RJ45 connector:

Figure 5 Registered Jack-45 (RJ45) Connector

Straight Tip (ST)

The Straight Tip (ST) connector is often seen on the end of a multi-mode cable; it has been commonly seen along with the SC connector for the last 20 years but is being slowly replaced by multi-fiber connectors (LC and MTP). Figure 6 below shows an example of a ST connector:

Figure 6 Straight Tip (ST) Connector

Subscriber Connector (SC)

The Subscriber Connector (SC) can be seen commonly on MMF or SMF; as with SC connectors, the ST connector is slowly being replaced by multi-fiber connectors. Figure 7 below shows an example of an SC connector:

Figure 7 Subscriber Connector (SC)

Lucent Connector (LC)

The Lucent Connector (LC) was developed for high-density deployments where multiple fibers would be terminated within a confined space. Unlike the SC and ST connectors, the LC connector is always duplex connecting a pair of fibers at a time. Figure 8 below shows an example of a LC connector:

Figure 8 Lucent Connector (LC)

Multi-fiber Push On (MPO)

The Multi-fiber Push On (MPO) connector is another duplex connector that offers an easy options for connection. As the name suggests, it was designed to be able to be connected multiple times without the creation of any potential connector issues. It is often also referred to as Multi-fiber Termination Push-on (MTP); the MTP connector is a brand name (US Conec). Figure 9 below shows an example of an MPO connector:

Figure 9 Multi-fiber Push On (MPO) Connector

Summary

It does seem very basic, but knowing the different cable and connector types is an important part of being a network engineer/administrator. This article is targeted to those individuals coming into the field and looking to be more knowledgeable of these different cables and connectors and how they are used. Hopefully the content of this article will help give a starting point in these studies and make entering the field just a little easier.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020