What’s The Longest Ethernet Cable You Can Buy?

Did you know that Ethernet was invented in 1973 by a team led by Robert Metcalfe? Metcalfe was an American electrical engineer whose goal was to enable computers to communicate over long distances.

However, the rise of the internet in 1990 increased the use and adoption of Ethernet. Now, Ethernet is inextricably woven into most networked computers we use either at home or in the Office.

How Many Types of Ethernet Cabling are There?

Three types of ethernet cabling are commonly used. They include Twisted pair, coaxial, and fiber optic cabling. However, the most used cable is the twisted pair, although the fiber optic is gaining popularity in high-performance networks.

Twisted-pair Cabling

Ethernet Connection.jpg
twisted pair cable with an 8P8C modular connector attached to a laptop computer, used for Ethernet.
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

This type of cabling has four pairs of wires. They are warped around each other to lower crosstalk and external interference. It is common in most LANs and can be used for telephone and network cabling.

This type of cabling comes in two categories:

  • UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair)
  • STP (Shielded Twisted Pair)

The difference is STP cables have an extra insulation layer that protects data from external interference.

Coaxial Cabling

Coaxial cables have inner conductors that pass through the middle of the cable. An insulation layer surrounds it with another conductor shield making it resistant to external interference.

It comes in two types: the thinnet and thicknet. The two types have a maximum speed of 10mbs. The cable was used for computer networks, but it’s being replaced with twisted cable pairing today.

Fiber-optic Cabling

Fiber optic cable uses optical fibers to transfer data in light signals. The cables have glass stands that are surrounded by cladding material.

It can support greater cable length than coaxial and twisted pair cables. In addition, they are unsusceptible to electromagnetic interference. Fiber optic cables have more pros than the others, but their main con is that they are more expensive.

This kind of cable comes in two types:

  • Single-mode fiber (SMF) uses a single ray of light to carry data. Commonly used for larger distances.
  • Multimode fiber (MMF) uses multiple rays of light to transmit data, and it’s less expensive than SMF.

During connections of these cables, they use the following connectors: Subscriber connector (SC), Fiber Channel (FC), Lucent connector (LC), and straight tip connector (ST).

What’s the Longest Copper Ethernet Cable you can Buy?

The longest length of terminated ethernet cable available commercially is 100m or 328 feet. However, you can get cables as long as 1000m (305ft), but if you cut the length, you will have to do the terminations yourself.

The recommended longest ethernet cable telecommunication Industry Association cable is 100m. It’s because, beyond that length, you will experience poor signals. The poor signal cause will be a drop in voltage, latency, and other issues.

The cable consists of 90 meters (295.27 feet) of cable blockage, and 10 meters (32.8 feet) is patch cable.

The 90m is made of solid copper, usually fitted in indoor walls, risers, and plenums. The 10m is for the end-user connections to their computer, Xbox, Playstation, etc.

Although copper cables have the best electrical performance, they are more rigid and have poor terminations. The copper cables are available in different lengths, from six inches to 100m.

The most popular lengths are 20 feet and 50 feet which are the best for domestic installations.

However, the latest technology has been used to make fiber optic cables. These cables can run longer than copper cables. OM1 fiber cables can stretch as far as 275m (902ft) without substantial loss of signal quality.

On the other hand, the new single-mode versions are the gold standard and can run up to 800m (2625 feet) and maintain a quality signal. So what are the requirements for ethernet cables?

Long Ethernet Cables Requirements

Network switches.jpg
Patch cables with patch fields of two Ethernet switches
By Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

To have the right speed with the long cables, you must use the right one. Don’t opt for cheaper CCA(Copper Coated Aluminum) cables; instead, use solid copper ethernet cables. Also, make sure that the wire diameters are between 22 and 24AWG.

Note that the higher the gauge, the smaller the diameter of the wire will be.

Additionally, ethernet cables with thin wire are easy to fit, but you have to limit the length to reduce damage.

When buying long ethernet cables, ensure you go for good quality. It will help reduce signal loss quality.