Cat5 network cabling limitations

Posted on 2005-05-10
Last Modified: 2009-07-29
I want to setup a network where about ten PCs are connected to a small switch. This switch is then connected via 1 cat5 cable to the main network switch. What are the speed implications in doing this? If all ten PCs are accessing network resources on the main network at the same time, I assume their speed will be limited to 10Mbs (100Mbs divided by 10 users).
Question by:machealth
    LVL 32

    Accepted Solution

    "If all ten PCs are accessing network resources on the main network at the same time, I assume their speed will be limited to 10Mbs (100Mbs divided by 10 users)."

    Yes, if they are all using the network 100% at the same time.

    In reality, this is very unlikely unless you are doing something very special.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Also depend on how long the cat5 cable is to main switch from small switch.
    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    Usually 200feet is a good rule of thumb for the length of the cable, before the signal starts to degrade noticably.

    LVL 27

    Expert Comment

    Statistically, yes.  In reality, no.  TCP/IP is designed to be shared.  By using switches, you've removed the contention between devices for transmit opportunities (no collisions).  Now, they can all transmit at the same time into your "small switch"  So, your switch could, theoretically be filling up it's buffers with 1000Mbs.  Since it's a "small switch" you're probably talking about a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) box like a Linksys.  Your problem, in this scenario, isn't the 100Mb choke point, it's the capabilities of the switch.  I haven't yet found the backplane statistics for what a Linksys switch can handle, but I doubt it could handle 1000Mbps crossing - ie NON BLOCKING.

    Anyway, assuming it's small and unmanaged, then it's probably going to use a First In First Out (FIFO) queuing strategy for its transmit queue.  So, all your devices, assuming they're all transmitting at the same time, will have a statistically load balanced opportunity to reach the core.

    But in reality, they barely use their 100Mbps throughput for any significant length of time.

    You could pick up a used managed switch on Ebay for about $500 which has the ability to "bond" ethernet connections together for faster statistical throughput and failover capabiity.  You could get a Nortel 450 for instance which can do this.  Or a Cisco Catalyst.
    LVL 27

    Expert Comment

    Hey, Thanks! :|

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