The overall topology of a 10BASE-T LAN is a tree of stars, as illustrated in Figure 1. The LAN in Figure 2 is constructed around four hubs and is a single collision domain. Each segment is at most 100 meters in length. The longest path throught the network passes through four hubs and crosses five sements.
An unbroken 100-meter run often is used to connect two hubs or to join a hub to a bridge. However, a horizontal cable run between a workstation and a hub normally is broken up into pieces, as Figure 3 shows. At the station end, a NIC is connected to a telecommunications outlet by a short cable called a patch cord. With the wiring closet at the other end, patch cords are used to complete the connection to a specific hub or switch.
A patch cord also is called a patch cable or a jumper cord. A patch cord that connects a user’s computer to an outlet often is called a work area cable. A Fiber Optic Patch Cord that connects a device to a hub or switch in a wiring closet often is called an equipment cable.
A typical breakdown is 90 meters for the long run between the telecommunications outlet and patch panels in the wiring closet and up to 10 meters for the patch cords used at each end. The patch cord connection between the station and the telecommunications outlet normally is limited to a length of 3 meters, at most.
Patch panels in a wiring closet enable the connections between end-user stations and hubs or switches to be rearranged by unplugging and replugging patch cables.
The patches shown at the top of Figure 3 are called interconnects. A station is attached to a new hub by unplugging the patch cable from the old hub and plugging it into the new hub. The patches shown in the lower part of Figure 4 are called cross-connects. Cables connected to the hubs do not need to be touched. An attachment is changed by plugging one end of a patch cord into a different socket. Cross-coonects are very convenient. However, they can degrade signals since they introduce more connector hardware into the cable patch.
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