To connect your NETGEAR network devices to your existing Local Area Network (LAN), or to create a new LAN, you will have to use Ethernet cables (unless of course your device connects wirelessly).
Ethernet is an IT industry standard that is supported by all manufacturers of network equipment, allowing equipment from different manufacturers to be connected together easily.
The standard specifies in great detail how the cable will be manufactured, what connectors will be on the ends (the connector used is called an RJ45), and the voltage, clock speed etc. of the electrical signals that will be sent down the cable.
This is what an Ethernet cable looks like:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not use telephone cables to connect to your networking devices. They may look similar, and are usually cheaper, but they do not comply with the Ethernet standard and they will not work.
Proper Ethernet cables will have:
An 8-pin RJ45 connector on each end (not the 4 or 6 pin connectors often used on telephone cables)
Printed text along the cable indicating that it complies with the Ethernet standard.
In practice, the Ethernet standard has been around since the 1970’s and has gone through many evolution cycles. Currently, 3 categories of Ethernet cable are in common use:
”Cat 5″ : Now obsolete, ok for speeds up to 100Mbps.
”Cat 5e” : Good for speeds up to 1Gbps.
”Cat 6″ : Good for speeds up to 1Gbps, and may support higher speeds as new Ethernet standards evolve.
The printed text along an Ethernet cable will indicate which category of cable it is.
For more detailed information about the Ethernet standard, search for “IEEE 802.3”.