Essential things to know before you start

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Learning computer networking is not horribly difficult but it does require some initial understanding of the electrical components required to make networking 'work.'

  • Wire
The most common kind of wire used for computer networking today is called "category 5" or "category 6", abbreviated as cat5 or cat6. This wire is specifically designed to carry low voltage digital signals over a distance between a sending network device and a receiving device. You cannot substitute speaker wire or other kinds of wire in its place because the 8 wires that are inside a jacketed cat5 cable are paired, and each pair is twisted together at different twist intervals to help minimize noise and interaction between wire pairs. Cat5 cable contains either solid core wire or stranded wire, but in either case, the gauge of the wire is generally 24 gauge and has very thin insulation. Because it's rather tiny wire and does not have much insulation, cat5 wire is not a good choice for carrying high current or voltage loads.