4 An Ethernet cable is the primary interface used for connecting computers to modems, routers and other networks. The cable controls all data flow between the computer and the network. Consequently, choosing the right cable is important to get the most out of the network.

Fortunately, an Ethernet cable is the most popular network cable for home use and purchasing the right one is fairly simple if you know what to look for.

Types of Cables

There are four types of cables available for home users depending on speed and bandwidth. These are:

Cat3: The oldest cable type, this supports a bandwidth of 16Mhz and 10 Mbps Ethernet connections. This is an outdated technology used only in very old equipment today.

Cat5: An upgraded version of Cat3, this cable supports bandwidth of 100 Mhz and Ethernet connections of 10 or 100 Mbps. This cable has been made redundant by new technology as well.

Cat5E: This is the cable type you’ll see in most homes. It is an upgraded version of Cat5 and supports Ethernet speeds of 10/100/1000 Mbps.

Cat6: This cable was developed to be future-proof and hence, can support speeds of up to 10 Gbps (10,000 Mbps). It also supports bandwidth of 250 Mhz.

What Type of Cable to Buy

3 For most home users, a Cat5E cable would be the equipment of choice. This cable is backwards-compatible with older equipment and affords speeds of up to 1 Gbps. These cables are also very cheap, retailing for just a few pounds for a 5-metre long cable.

However, to be future-proof, you should consider investing in Cat6 cables. These are rated for speeds of up to 10,000 Mbps and support much higher bandwidth. Although very, very few home networks reach such speeds, a Cat6 cable would mean that in case you do decide to upgrade your home internet connection, your cable would up to the task. Gigabit internet has already become a reality in parts of the world and it is only a matter of time before it becomes as commonplace as our current 10 Mbps connections. A Cat6 cable would be necessary to support such connections.


Cat6 Ethernet cables are relatively affordable and ensure that your home network remains future-proof to any speed upgrades. They are also backwards-compatible with the Cat5 specification, meaning you can use them with your existing equipment with zero issues.

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