Obviously, one of the most important parts of any computer network is going to be the cabling that connects all the devices. And when we're talking about cabling in a computer network we're really talking about the wires - the gray wires the blue wires, whatever color they are - that actually connect the computers together and connect the computers to the various network devices. Now there are three main types of cabling that you need to be aware of that exist out there in the real world and you will hear about these on the exam and you'll also touch them in real life. The first one is called Twisted Pair cable, and there are two types. There's a UTP and STP, Unshielded Twisted Pair and Shielded Twisted Pair. Now notice there's one wire, or there's one kind of container that has, in this instance, four pairs of wires within that one wire and each of these four pairs are twisted together. Then there's Coax cable which looks like what you use for your cable TV connections, and this is another way to pass data around in a network. And then, of course, there's the Star Trek version which is Fiber, and Fiber uses a light to do this. Now what you need to know about cabling is the pros and cons of each type, Twisted Pair, Coax, and Fiber. You need to understand and be able to quickly remember the usable distance of each cable, in other words, how far can we run this cable and still get data to go out the other end and be useful. And then the data transmission rate or how many, usually we measure it in megabits or gigabits per second of data, can I push through this cable reliably. And once you know those three pieces of information about the three types of cabling you'll be able to get past a lot of the questions on the exam, you'll be able to do a lot in the real world and you'll be able to do some really cool network design. Now there's one more thing about cabling that I want to mention and this is as good a place as any in this course to mention it, and that is would you like plenum with that? Plenum refers to the open space above drop ceilings and you're going to hear about Plenum cable, or Plenum-rated cable, and notice in this little diagram here that in most buildings this is where we work. Our desks are down here on the floor, we walk around here, and this is a drop ceiling. These are these little white square panels we see and we see fluorescent lights up here, but there is a space between the drop ceiling that we see and the actual ceiling of the room and this can be two feet, three feet, it can be 10 feet depending on the building you're in. Well, normally, our air conditioning and heating people have duct work that comes in that forces hot or cold air into our workspace, but often the space above the drop ceiling, which is called plenum or the plenum airspace, is just wide open and as air gets forced back up through here it goes out and it circulates. Now, this space is often used by our heating and air conditioning people for air flow in the building. The problem comes in when we have a fire in the building because as a fire hits this, this air that's moving around in this plenum space feeds the fire and then what happens is, the reason we want to use Plenum cable is, it's fire retardant. Because once a fire begins to spread through our building and spreads through the air circulation aspects of the building, if this plastic on all of our cables creates these toxic smoke mixtures then it starts to spread that around and we've got a new problem. Not only do we have to try to survive the fire and get out of the building but we also have to try to survive the toxic fumes and all that and the thick smoke. And so Plenum cable is simply cable that has, the outside has been treated with a fire retardant substance and it also may be, and usually is, smoke retardant and you can see tests and stuff. You can go out on the Internet to various companies and see videos. But the bottom line with Plenum cable is it's fire retardant, it's usually smoke retardant, and it helps us deal with cable that's laid up in these plenum spaces above the drop ceilings and it makes it safer, especially in emergency situations like fires. So, that's pretty much the basics on cabling, and in the next few videos we're going to kind of delve in a little bit more deeper into each individual type of cabling and talk about the advantages and disadvantages, so join me there.
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