One Tech Writer Proves that One Confusing Network Failure Could be a Simple Fix

The network Ethernet cable is one of the simplest, yet most effective and valuable pieces of equipment in the everyday technology world. They come in many different specifications, such as the CAT5e crossover cable or newer CAT6 Ethernet cables, but their connectivity and networking generally work the same way.

That’s why it was somewhat surprising that a former tech writer couldn’t figure out how to troubleshoot the problem he was having with his own network Ethernet cable in his new house. Lex Friedman, former Macworld editor, bought a new home that came equipped with Network Ethernet cables already wired throughout the house, but when he went to plug in his modem and Ethernet switch, it worked fine in some parts of the network, but not at all in others.

It’s unclear exactly what kind of network Ethernet cables were being used. That being said, CAT5e cables are used typically for networks and multi-line phone systems. They can transmit up to 10/100/1000Mbps and have a maximum frequency of 100 MHz. CAT6 cables are also used for networks and multi-line phone systems, but have a maximum frequency of 250 MHz and can transmit up to 10/100/1000Mbps. Mega is a prefix that denotes one million and is used in data communications to describe the speed of data transfer in megabits per second and the bandwidth of a given system in megahertz.

“What was even more maddening is that the LED status lights on the switch and the base station both lit up green, and the light blinked on the switch showing activity,” Macworld writer Glenn Fleishman recalled. “If the cable were truly inoperable, neither light should be lit up; some switches will show a different LED color or pattern for a bad cable, too.”

Fleishman gave his struggling friend the same advice he gives many people with similar types of problems: go through section by section and try to isolate exactly what’s causing the failure to happen in the first place. It could very well be a bad piece of patch cable.

Friedman did just that and eventually tracked down his problem. Essentially, one of his connections was causing the internal network to fail entirely. An electrical short in the connection was speculated to be the culprit.

Friedman’s situation was peculiar, but certainly not entirely unique. It’s a good lesson to learn that sometimes the problem that’s causing your entire network to fail could be fixed by buying something as simple as a new network Ethernet cable.

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