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How to Extend Your Ethernet Range Beyond 100 Meters

What's the best type of Ethernet cable for long distances? Standard copper Ethernet cable can only reach about 100 meters (328 feet). Learn how to extend Ethernet past that limit.

How to Extend Your Ethernet Range Beyond 100 Meters Sven Fischer / Unsplash

Last Updated: March 18, 2023

Written by Kevin Jones

Whether you're trying to share Internet access between buildings or connect cameras across a field, it's easy to run up against the distance limits of a typical Ethernet cable.

However, the Internet goes all around the world, so surely it must be possible to connect two buildings or communicate with devices down a road.

In this article, we'll dig into your options for stretching your Ethernet connection to your heart's content.

What Is the Max Distance of a Copper Ethernet Cable?

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Copper Ethernet cables typically used in homes and businesses have a maximum distance of 100 meters (328 feet). Past this distance, speeds will drop, and packet loss will increase.

Ethernet Cable Max Speeds and Distances
Cable Category Max Speed and Distance
Cat 5
  • 100 Mbps @ 100 meters
Cat 5e
  • 1 Gbps @ 100 meters
Cat 6
  • 10 Gbps @ 55 meters (37 meters if high cross talk)
  • 1 Gbps @ 100 meters
Cat 6a
  • 10 Gbps @ 100 meters
Cat 8
  • 40 Gbps @ 30 meters
  • 10 Gbps @ 100 meters

How Can You Extend Ethernet Past the 100 Meter Limit?

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Standard copper Ethernet cables can only reach about 100 meters because the electrical properties start to break down after that point. The high-frequency signal gets too much noise at long distances, which causes the signal to degrade.

However, there is a range of solutions to work around these limitations of physics. These include:

  • Repeating the signal with a network switch
  • Transmitting the signal with light over fiber optic cables
  • Transmitting the signal with a long-range wireless device
  • Transmitting at lower speeds

Next, we'll discuss each of these options in further detail.

How to Extend Ethernet With a Network Switch

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A network switch is the simplest solution for extending copper Ethernet cables, such as Cat 6a, past 100 meters. A network switch repeats received packets, forwarding them to their destination.

The downside to using an Ethernet switch is that it requires a power source. For example, if you're running a cable across a field, you likely wouldn't have a power source in the middle of it.

By using a network switch that is at least as fast as the rest of your network, you won't lose any speed by using a network switch to extend the Ethernet cable.

Each network switch can extend your network by the max cable length (e.g., 100 meters with Cat 6a at 10 Gbps).

How to Extend Ethernet With a Long-Range Wireless Bridge

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Long-range wireless may be a good solution if you have a clear line of sight between two buildings or can create a clear line of sight by using a pole.

Long-Range wireless devices can extend your network for many miles/kilometers!

Wireless solutions are limited to typical wireless speeds, which are often less than 1 Gbps. However, they can often be more than adequate if you're able to achieve full signal strength.

How to Extend Ethernet With Fiber Optics

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Suppose you're looking for the trifecta of fast speeds, perfectly stable connections, and long distances. In that case, fiber optics are the answer. Depending on which transceiver is used, fiber optic connections can reach up to 160 km!

Another advantage of fiber is that you can use it to electrically isolate your equipment, minimizing the risk of lightning damage.

The easiest way to extend your network via fiber optics is to use a pair of fiber to Ethernet media converters. They act as a seamless extension for your Ethernet network.

Fiber to Ethernet media converters adapt between a typical copper Ethernet cable (e.g., Cat 6a) and fiber-optic cable.

For an extensive guide to fiber optics, check out my article Set Up a Fiber-Optic Network in Your Home or Office.

How to Extend Ethernet With a VDSL2 Extender or PoE+ Extender

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If speed isn't a concern for you, VDSL2 extenders and PoE+ extenders may solve your problem.

These techniques typically drop speeds to 100 Mbps or less but can provide a quick fix using standard copper Ethernet cables if you only need a low-speed connection.

Protect Your Long-Distance Ethernet Equipment From Surges

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If you're running copper cables outdoors, you may be putting your equipment at additional risk from lightning and power surges. Check out my article Ethernet Surge Protection for Home Networks for suggested equipment that you can use to protect your network.

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