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What is a network cable tester?

what is a network cable tester?

Network testers ordinarily measure and test an existing or new LAN (local area network) connection. This is usually a computer network installed in a local area, such as in an office, a school, a laboratory or a university. The network consists of cable connections which are called Ethernet cables, and these effectively enable the different components of the computer network to talk to each other.




What does a network cable tester do?

An Ethernet cable consists of eight wires which are installed in four pairs, and the current will only flow through the wires if they are paired in the correct order. Therefore a network cable tester has the purpose of checking existing cable connections and the installation of new cable connections, and it checks the signal quality and identifies where cables may require attention. The tester is an electrical device which measures the conductance between two ends of a cable and checks and measures the signal it finds for the correct wiring pairing.

The network cable tester checks whether the cable is capable of carrying an Ethernet signal, and if it can, that means that all the circuits are closed and the current can flow unimpeded through the wires, ie. there are no short circuits or unwanted connections in the wires. Where problems exist and are identified, it is rarely a fault in the cable itself, it is usually an installation error.

So, in general, a network cable tester will:

  • Identify if the Ethernet cable wires are paired correctly
  • Show if there is a break in the insulation of the cable
  • Show whether the cable has the correct level of resistance

A network cable tester essentially provides the user with a level of assurance that the installed cable links in a network will provide the desired transmission capability to enable the computer components to communicate effectively, and therefore to support the level of data communication the user requires. Within the scope of this capability the tester can provide different levels of operational assurance, ie. qualification, verification and certification.


What does a network cable tester look like?

Network cable testers differ in complexity and price, much like all electrical testing instruments, but they will usually always be a small handheld device. All testers will have a source of electrical current, a measuring device which shows that the cable is good and a connection between the two, which is usually the cable itself. More professional models will enable the user to identify open circuits, but will also have the capability to identify where a break exists. Some units are also able to identify gauges of wire and test a signal for interference.

The TIS 880 supplied by Test Instrument Solutions is a two-piece unit which tests three types of cable:

  • Coaxial cable
  • UTP cable (unshielded twisted pairs)
  • STP cable (shielded twisted pairs)


With the TIS 880 the user is able to quickly and easily test and verify the signal flowing through each of these cable types, and where a problem exists with the cable, the unit can also perform a de-bug test which enables the user to identify which cable pair has a specific wiring fault.


Video Demonstration

Below is a product demonstration of the TIS 880 (network cable tester):

Please note that this section is for information purposes only. Anyone using equipment referred to in this section must be suitably qualified and/or experienced within the respective field. If in doubt before use, please consult a qualified electrician or engineer & thoroughly read all instruction booklets.

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