Your guide to Ethernet cables

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What they are and how we use them

Here’s your how-to guide on ethernet cables: what they are, where to buy them and how we use them.

Ethernet: what is it?

Ethernet is a type of computer networking protocols and technologies which are usually used for LAN (local area networks).

Ethernet connects modem or router to a computer device in order to connect to the internet.

Internet technology using Ethernet cables are wired – as opposed to wireless. It’s a relatively old internet technology, having emerged in 1980, and over the years, it has replaced other LAN networks – so much so that, for many of us, it is the only name we know to associate with local area network technology.

Ethernet functions by dividing systems and streams of data into smaller, individuated packages known as frames; these frames are communicated across the network accompanied by their source and destination addresses and error-writing or re-writing data. This allows any errors to be sourced, checked and modified when transmitted.

Buying your own

When it comes to buying you own Ethernet cable, it’s relatively straightforward. The most important decision you can make is about length, as the speed and capacity is pretty standardized these days. Electrical website RS Components come as recommended for an Ethernet cable, or your local computer hardware shop should stock them.

Ethernet cables: how they work and where to use them

So what does an Ethernet cable actually do? Well, the cable is the key connecting factor that joins your computer to the network, ‘wiring’ you up to your modem or source. The Ethernet cable is a coaxial cable, the shared component in the network, containing an inner conductor, a protective tubing, and then another conductive outer shield which is the same material and axis as the inner conductor.

Ethernet cables come in a variety of lengths and capacities; speeds of transfer across the cable are now around 100 gigabit a second standard. You’ll attach the cable to your switch or router in the home (usually at ground level near a socket; these are normally inserted by your electrician or telecommunications specialist) and then plug it in to the Ethernet socket in your PC or laptop.  You should then be ready to surf the internet!

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An ethernet cable

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