Ethernet Cables vs Coaxial Cables - Key Differences Between the Two Networking Technologies

Bulk Ethernet cables and Coaxial cables are both networking devices with a wide range of applications. But how do these cables differ when they are both networking cables?

An ethernet cable is any cable that is used to transfer data across multiple devices in a local area network or a wide area network. Coaxial or coax cables are a type of ethernet cable along with twisted-pair and optical fiber cables. Keep reading this blog to find out the difference between ethernet and coax cables. We will explain the differences in detail. Let’s dive right in. 

 What is an Ethernet cable?

Ethernet cables refer to the most commonly used twisted-pair cables which connect multiple devices in a Local Area Network (LAN). These cables feature 4 twisted pair conductors and follow IEEE 802 standards and EIA/TIA 568A and B wiring protocol.

Jacket

The Ethernet cable jacket is responsible for keeping the cable conductors functional and safe from the uncertainties of the environment. It is a protective sheath made out of a high-quality PVC or fluorinated ethylene polymer.

Jackets come in three types. Plenum, Riser, and PVC. Cables with the plenum jacket are designed for installations in indoor plenum spaces where air can circulate. These are the finest cable jackets and can also be installed outdoors and in riser spaces.

Riser jackets are installed in indoor-contained spaces such as within walls and in elevator shafts. The reason is that if riser jackets catch fire, they can emit toxic smoke which can be hazardous for the inhabitants of the building.

PVC jackets are solely for outdoor use. These jackets are effective against harsh weather conditions and are very affordable.

Conductor

The conductor of Bulk Ethernet cables is the primary component that makes the transmission of data possible. Essentially, it is the most important part of an Ethernet cable and everything else revolves around it – both literally and figuratively.

Performance

The performance of Ethernet cables varies from category to category. For instance, Cat6 Cables can transmit data at speeds of up to 1 Gbps over 100 meters. Similarly, Cat8 cables have a data transmission speed of 10 Gbps over 100 meters.

The performance of Ethernet cables also varies within the same category. For example, all Cat6a cables have the same data transfer rates and bandwidth capacities, but some cables can be more efficient depending on the cable shielding.

If you are looking to buy an Ethernet cable, be sure to check out its specifications before making a purchase. Look for its shielding, conductor, and jacket, and compare them with your requirements.

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Uses

They are used for data transfer, internet connections, and other networking applications in a network.

You will be surprised to know how vast the application of Ethernet cables is. They are used in almost every building on earth that has an internet connection.  They are used in hospitals, schools, homes, offices, factories, etc.

Other Ethernet Cables

Optical fiber cables and coaxial cables are the other two types of ethernet cables. Fiber optic cables are much faster as compared to twisted pair and coaxial cables but they also cost more. 

Fiber optic cables come in two main types: single mode and multimode. Single-mode cables are used for long-distance data transmissions whereas multimode is ideal for short lengths. 

 What is a Coax cable?

Coaxial cables, also known as coax cables, are heavily shielded network cables with a single conductor. These are used in data connections, telephone connections, and even internet connections.

You would be surprised to know that these cables were first patented in 1880 and are still in use today. However, the invention of network cables with rather enhanced features has pushed them down in the list of the most popular cables.

Here’s what you need to know to distinguish it from Ethernet cables.

Jacket

The jacket of coax cables is probably the main reason for their continued popularity. Here’s the list of various coax cable jackets.

  1. Formable coaxial cable
  2. Triaxial cable
  3. Twin axial cable
  4. Semi-rigid coaxial cable
  5. Rigid coaxial cable
  6. So Hard line coaxial cable
  7. Flexible coaxial cable

Conductor

These cables come with two different types of conductors. Either a pure copper conductor or a copper-coated steel conductor. If you are looking to buy coaxial cables, the expert recommendation is to go with bare copper conductor cables because they provide enhanced speed and are more reliable. They will last long too.

Performance

The heavy-duty shielding of coax cables enables them to transmit signals with exceptional efficiency. But generally, the speed of these cables is a meager 10 Mbps.

Compared to ethernet cables, coax cables are better at transmission speeds and frequencies.

Uses

Although not as widely as ethernet cables, coax cables are used all over the globe by telephone companies, internet service providers, and cable TV operators to transmit signals at long distances.

However, the single conductor configuration of the cable is not advanced enough to support the latest state-of-the-art technologies. Ethernet cables, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of doing so, thanks to the advanced ethernet wiring standards.

Coax vs Ethernet: Difference Explained

The difference between both networking cables is vast. Particularly, the main difference is in the design of the cables. Their application is nonetheless similar but still different.

For instance, Ethernet cables have 4 twisted pairs of conductors while the coax cable features a single conductor.

The shielding of Ethernet cables is not as intricate as the coax cable shielding.

Today, coax cables are mostly used in Cable TV networks but that is also becoming less and less popular because Cable TV signals are nowadays transmitted via fiber optic cables and Ethernet cables.

Ethernet cables on the other hand are still in wide use today. From internet connections to audio/video signal transmissions, these cables seem to have a foundational position in the networking industry.

Which one should you buy? Coax or Ethernet cable

It simply depends on why you need one of these networking cables. For a cable TV connection, for instance, you need to buy coax cables. And for more advanced networking applications such as PoE or Internet connection, ethernet cables are far more suitable.

SmarTech Cables is the industry leader in manufacturing high-performance networking cables and accessories. Our products exceed the industry standards and we are offering market competitive prices, coupled with free shipping on orders above $100.

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