assortment of different colored cables

To enjoy broadband internet and telecommunications services, we rely on various types of cables. From broadband expansions to other larger cable projects, internet and telecom solutions depend on using the right cable for the job. Here, we’ll provide an overview of the different types of cables that these services employ.

Cable for Internet

If you’re shopping for an internet service, the type of cable involved in the service will play a role in your service’s speed and dependability. Depending on where you are based, certain types of cable may not be available for internet or telecom services. Knowing the different types of cable and their functionality will help you choose a service that’s ideal for your needs and budget.

Fiber-Optic Cable

Experts typically agree that fiber-optic internet is best. A fiber-optic cable relies on pulses of light to transmit data along very thin strands, or fibers, of plastic or glass. These strands deliver your internet connection with great speed and reliability. In fact, this type of cable can transmit as quickly as 2,000 megabits per second. That means that you can download a movie in HD in about a minute.

Fiber-optic cable, while superior to other types of cable connections, is, unfortunately, not available for many customers. Less than 50% of American households have access to fiber–optic cable because of the difficulty associated with installing it. Fiber-optic internet is primarily available in cities. While major internet service providers have made some inroads in expanding this service to underserved regions, the process has been slow going. Moreover, fiber optic internet is expensive. While it’s come down in price in recent years, it still may be less cost-effective than other options.

5G: Mobile Internet

Though designed for phones, mobile internet with 5G connections is an increasingly popular option for home internet service. Mobile internet service has improved with technology advancements. For home internet service, customers will use a router as opposed to their smartphone to pick up their internet connection.

Customers living in cities may opt for a 5G home internet connection through a provider like AT&T or Verizon who have cellular internet plans with various speed times. A more expensive plan will get you download speeds that range from 300 – 980 Mbps.

Cable Internet: Coaxial Cables

Cable internet is basically the standard service. It is more accessible than fiber-optic and relies on coaxial cables to deliver its service. Cable internet is currently available to about 90% of American households, making it easy to procure. Although it’s not as fast or reliable as fiber-optic, it can be bundled as a service with cable television and phone service for improved cost savings. The same coaxial cable that delivers cable TV services also delivers internet.

The coaxial cable has been around since the 1880s. Today, there are essentially three types of coaxial cables, each has slightly different properties and different shields. RG-6 coaxial cable, for instance, is most frequently selected for satellite communications and may have a single, dual, or quad shield.

Although coaxial cable for internet service offers decent speed, it can become bogged down as the network gets busy. Consequently, during peak use periods, cable internet can be slow. Even so, customers can get broadband connection using coaxial cable for as inexpensively as $30 per month. Some service providers may offer more expensive plans but offer faster speeds.

DSL Internet Service

Many customers living in rural settings rely on DSL internet service. Typically, these customers don’t have access to cable or fiber-optic internet. DSL service relies on phone lines to deliver internet connection. While this type of service tends to be slow, it is an affordable option and, in some cases, can achieve broadband speeds.

Other Cables Explained

While we discussed fiber-optic and coaxial cables, there are other cables with the telecom industry that you may find helpful to know about. We’ll outline them here:

Twisted Pair Cable

A twisted pair cable is a telephone cable that features a pair of copper wires. These wires, as their name suggests, twist around one another. Each twisted pair cable could contain numerous pairs of twisted cables. The more pairs, the better the connection. There are two types of these cables: unshielded and shielded. Unshielded twisted pair cables are often in homes or businesses. Shielded twisted pair cables are better suited to large-scale enterprises or in areas where the elements could pose a problem for the cable.

Jelly-Filled Telecom Cable

A jelly-filled telecom cable is water resistant and filled with petroleum jelly. The jelly prevents underground moisture from impeding the cable’s function if the cable is damaged. These types of cables are suitable in hot or cold regions.

Ribbon Cable

Sometimes referred to as a multi-wire planar cable or a flat twin cable, a ribbon cable is constructed from several insulated wires that enable simultaneous transmission of data. Interconnected network devices typically feature ribbon cables.

Important Features of Cables

In order for seamless connection of the internet, data has to be able to move without being interrupted–and in real time. Proper shielding is crucial for safeguarding telecommunications cables from disturbances like other power cables and noise. These cables must also be easy to identify as they may run with other types of cables like electrical cables. Cable manufacturers also create network cables with fire-resistant materials so that they will not act as a conduit for fire in the event of a disaster.

We all use these different cables nearly every day. Next time you log onto the internet or turn on your TV, know that these cables are hard at work helping you connect to the world at large.