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What is a LAN Cable? — Everything You Need to Know

Are you one of those people that always have to call someone when their internet dies? Then, to make things worse, they keep telling you about some “LAN cable”, and the only thing you can think about is what on earth is a LAN cable?

Well, don’t despair. CyberCrew has got the answer for you. We will cover everything from the basics, such as the definition of a LAN cable, all the way through to different LAN cable types, fibre optical cables, protocol speeds, and much more, so you won’t have to call anyone else again!

What is a LAN cable?

A LAN cable is a type of cable that is used to connect devices together to form a local area network (LAN). It allows devices such as computers, printers, and routers in a physical space to communicate with each other and share data and resources.

The main purpose of a LAN cable is to establish a high-speed wired internet connection between your computer or other device and your network’s router. 

The invention of LAN was the direct result of the increasing need for high-speed interconnections between computers during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The first LAN technology was invented in the early 1970s by Robert Metcalfe, who was also the co-founder of 3Com. At the time, Metcalfe was a member of the research staff for Xerox PARC, a research company in Palo Alto, California, and was asked to build a networking system for PARC’s computers. 

The reason for this was that Xerox was building the world’s first-ever laser printer and wanted all of PARC’s computers to be able to print with that printer. Metcalfe later named the technology Ethernet.


What Does a LAN Cable Look Like — How to Recognise it Easily?

From the outside, LAN cables look very similar to telephone cables. They are usually covered in a plastic sheath and have eight colour-coded wires, twisted into four pairs of wires, unlike telephone cables which only have four wires. The wires are usually coloured blue, green, brown, and orange.

If you want to check whether a cable is a LAN cable or not, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you can check the connector. LAN cables have RJ-45 connectors, which are shaped like little rectangular boxes, and a small lever on top, which helps to secure the cable. 

While LAN cables may come in a range of colours and lengths, there is one characteristic that they all share. Namely, both sides of a LAN cable look the same, regardless of the brand of the cable or the device you are connecting it to. 

LAN Cable | CyberCrew

Once you know how to recognise a LAN cable, it will be easy for you to identify it and connect your devices.

A LAN cable also emits different colours while plugged into the computer, and each colour of light indicates a different activity status. The colours that a LAN cable emits can vary depending on the manufacturer of the cable and the network adapter, but they are usually either green, amber, or red.

When a LAN cable emits the green colour, that means it is sending and receiving data correctly. The amber colour means that there is a transmission error, and the red colour means that there is a collision on the network.

Regardless of the colour, when the light blinks, it indicates that the port is actively transmitting the information. Likewise, a solid light means that the devices are properly connected and ready to transmit data. When there is no light at all, it indicates that no network connection has been established.


LAN Cable Types

There are many different types of LAN cables, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common LAN cables are Ethernet cables, which come in eight categories, each differing in terms of bandwidth, maximum transmission speeds, and shielding.

The table below shows the eight major types of Ethernet cables and their main features.

Cable Category Maximum Transmission Speed Maximum Bandwidth Shielding
Cat3 10 Mbps 16 MHz Unshielded
Cat5 100 Mbps 100 MHz Unshielded
Cat5e 1 Bbps 100 MHz Unshielded
Cat6 10 Gbps 250 MHz Shielded or Unshielded
Cat6a 10 Gbps 500 MHz Shielded
Cat7 10 Gbps 600 MHz Shielded
Cat7a 10 Gbps 1,000 MHz Shielded
Cat8 40 Gbps 2,000 MHz Shielded


CAT5 cables opened the way for high-speed internet. They can transfer data at up to 100 Mbps and 100 MHz bandwidth. CAT6 cables are newer and can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps and a maximum bandwidth of 250 MHz.

CAT8 LAN cables are the newest type of Ethernet cable with a maximum speed of 40 Gbps and an unprecedented bandwidth of 2,000 MHz. This type of cable is also more resistant to interference, making it more suitable for use in noisy environments.

Fibre optic cables are another LAN cable type that is becoming increasingly popular. Fibre optic cables use light instead of electrical impulses to transmit data, making them faster and more reliable than traditional Ethernet cables. They have a maximum speed of 10 Gbps and can be used to connect devices over long distances.

Advantages of LAN cables

LAN cables have a number of advantages over other types of cables, including

  • They provide faster data transmission speeds and more stable connections than wireless networks
  • They are more resistant to electromagnetic interference, so they are more suitable for use in noisy environments
  • They are more versatile than other types of cables and can be used to connect devices such as printers, scanners, and external hard drives to a computer
  • They are much more secure and less prone to cyber-attacks and data interceptions than wireless networks 

Disadvantages of LAN cables

LAN cables also have a few disadvantages:

  • They are more expensive than other types of cables
  • They are thicker and heavier than other types of cables, which can make them difficult to use in tight spaces
  • They can be damaged if they are bent too many times.
  • They offer limited mobility and are only suitable for devices that sit in one place

LAN Cable vs Wi-Fi: Protocol Speeds

What is the difference in protocol speeds? What does this mean for your internet connection? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each connection type?

The current state-of-the-art LAN cables allow for a maximum speed of 40 Gbps. That is much faster than even the next-generation Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6, which can support speeds up to 9.6 Gbps. What this means is that LAN cables will give you a better internet connection than Wi-Fi because they can download data quicker.

However, one disadvantage of LAN cables is that they are more expensive than Wi-Fi connections. As a LAN network requires several different components to work, such as cables, routers, and switches, it is typically more expensive than a Wi-Fi network.

Another big downside to using these types of cables is that they aren’t as convenient as Wi-Fi. While you can use a Wi-Fi network virtually anywhere where a hotspot is available, LAN cables are only suitable for devices that you don’t need to move around, such as desktop computers.

LAN Cable Alternatives

Other than LAN cables, there are also a few alternatives that are slightly more convenient and still provide the same fast and reliable internet connection. So, what are some alternatives to a LAN cable? 

  • LAN cables are usually longer, thicker, and heavier than other types of cables. If you want something that can go around corners easier, one alternative to a LAN cable is a USB cable which can be used for printers and scanners.
  • MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) is a home networking technology that uses the existing coaxial wiring in your home to provide a high-speed internet connection
  • Powerline Adapters are devices plugged into a wall outlet that transmits data using your home electrical wiring.
  • Wi-Fi — If you want to avoid the hassle of a wired internet connection, you may want to stick to a Wi-Fi network. Remember that If the Wi-Fi signal cannot reach every corner of your house, you can always use a Wi-Fi extender to eliminate the dead spots.

Wrap Up

So there you have it, your complete guide to LAN cables! We’ve answered all of your questions, and now it’s time for you to get out there and start networking like a pro. Just be sure to keep an eye on our blog for more guides on everything tech-related — we wouldn’t want you to be left behind in the digital age. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on LAN cables? Are they still valuable in this age of wireless technology, or do they have no place in modern society? Let us know in the comments below.


What does LAN stand for?

LAN stands for local area network and signifies a group of connected computers in a particular area that can communicate with each other by sharing data and resources.

What is a LAN cable used for?

A LAN cable connects computers and other devices to create a local area network. The main purpose of a LAN cable is to connect your computer or other devices to your network’s router. 

What does a LAN cable look like?

A LAN cable looks very similar to a phone cable. The cable is covered in a plastic sheath and has an RJ-45 connector, which is shaped like a rectangular box. In addition, all LAN cables look the same on both sides, regardless of their brand or colour.

Is a LAN cable the same as an Ethernet cable?

Yes, a LAN cable is considered the same as an Ethernet cable, as both are considered to be networking cables.

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