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Wireless Networking Cables Guide

In Wireless Networking there are many different types of Wireless Networking Cables that can be used for different applications, for example, Low Loss Coaxial cable can be used to route signal between devices and antennas without losing hardly any signal strength whereas standard Ethernet Wireless Networking Cable can be used to connect LAN devices to transfer data. Listed below are the most popular types of Wireless Networking Cable used and the specific details and variations of each.

Coaxial Cable (Coax)

Coax is an electrical Wireless Networking Cable that transfers RF signal with an inner conductor that is lined with a flexible insulating layer that is surrounded by a tubular layer that acts as a conducting shield. The inner conductor and outer shield both share the same geometric axis which is the reasoning behind the term Coaxial being used to describe this type of cabling. It is mostly used as a transmission line for radio frequency signals in applications where a low loss of signal quality or strength is required such as for connections between transmitters or receivers with their antennas. The advantage of the electromagnetic field only existing in between the inner and outer conductors, in a perfect situation, means that less interference is caused reducing power level losses. Unlike other shielded Wireless Networking Cable, the dimensions of the cables are stringently controlled to provide a precise spacing between conductors which is required for RF transmission lines to function efficiently.

Coax is great for attaching external antennas to your Wireless Networking devices as they minimise the loss of signal power but are best employed over as shorter distance as possible, again, to minimise loss. They come in various types with the most popular being listed in the table below. For best performance, we recommend that you use Wireless Networking Cables such as the LMR195, 400 or 600 depending on your budget and when calculating your System Operating Margin, please calculate and factor in your expected losses due to any cable losses, transmitter and receiver end.

Wireless Networking Cable Type

Overall Diameter Attenuation per m (dB)

Common Connector Types

Waterproof

Durability

Cost

(in) (mm) 2.4GHz 5GHz
RG-174/U 0.10 2.55 1.70 - BNC, SMA, TNC Yes Bad Very Cheap
RG-58/U 0.20 5.00 1.05 1.70 Lucent, MCX, MMCX Yes Bad Cheap
LMR-195 0.20 5.00 0.62 0.98 BNC, SMA, TNC Yes Good & Flexible Less Cheap
RG-213/U 0.41 10.30 0.50 0.94 N Yes Good Costly
LMR-400 0.41 10.29 0.22 0.35 N, SMA, TNC Yes Good Costly
LMR-600 0.59 14.99 0.14 0.24 N Yes Very Good More Costly

In summary, here are the main points you should consider when using Coax Wireless Networking Cable:

  • Make sure you weatherproof your connections by using waterproof cabling and self amalgamating tape over all connections and seals to prevent moisture or water from damaging electrical circuits or causing interference. Also managed your cables with drip loops.
  • Keep the cabling between antennas and devices are short as possible to reduce the amount of signal loss by locating your devices as close to the antenna as possible by using PoE. For example, LMR195 at 2.4GHz loses 50% of the signal power over 8m, whereas it only loses 3% per 0.5m.
  • Only use RG174 or RG58 if you want to induce a calculated signal power loss into your system, maybe to meet power limit regulations.

Leaky Feeders

Leaky Feeders are similar to Coax cable but designed to evenly distribute signal along the whole length of the cable acting as an antenna. It does this by having gaps in its outer conductor which allows small amounts of signal to 'leak' out along its entire length. It can be a useful substitute to deploy in between floors in buildings or within long tunnels where a large amount of APs would be needed to provide maximum coverage.

CAT5

Category 5 (CAT5) is a twisted pair, Ethernet Wireless Networking Cable that is used for carry data signals typically between computers or networked devices such as Access Points or Routers. Most CAT5 cables are unshielded but rely on the twisting of the inner cables to avoid interference and typically allow up to 100 Megabits per second of bandwidth. No single Ethernet Wireless Networking Cable runs should be more than 100m without active hardware such as a repeater or a switch being used. CAT5 has been superseded by CAT5e which allows up to 1 Gigabit per second of bandwidth due to utilising all 4 twisted cable pairs for the data transmission.

CAT6

Category 6 (CAT6) is backwards compatible with CAT5 standards but allows up to 1 Gigabit per second and 10 Gigabits per second bandwidths and features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. CAT6 when being used at 10 Gigabit speeds should only be deployed up to a maximum length of 55m, however, a newer standard known as CAT6a allows up to 100m range whilst utilising 10 Gigabit.