Ethernet cables look like traditional phone cables; however, they are larger because they contain eight wires compared to the four wires in phone cables. Ethernet cable connectors are also larger than those for phone cables.
While phone cables are almost always gray, Ethernet cabling come in various colors: gray, blue, yellow, orange, and white. The color of the cable does not signify any cable functions. Instead, it is there simply to highlight a specific application (the purpose of the connection). However, most outdoor Ethernet cables are black and waterproof.
The most common Ethernet cable is twisted pair, and it is the industry standard. Twisted pair simply means that two wires are twisted together inside the cable. This type of cable has excellent performance and is surpassed only by fiber-optic cabling. Ethernet cabling has the following features:
- The two wires carry data in both directions which reduces electrical noise.
- They come in an “unshielded” version, which means there is no foil or braided shielding around the wiring. This is the cheapest option.
- They also come in a “shielded” version, which means the cable comes with a copper or other polymer braided or foil shield. This version is more expensive than unshielded Ethernet cabling but significantly reduces electrical noise and improves connection quality.