Defined by the Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (commonly known as EIA/TIA), CAT5 (Category 5) cable is the copper wiring using twisted pair technology, designed for Ethernet networks. The term “Category” refers to the classifications of UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cables. Since its inception in the 1990s, CAT5 has become one of the most popular types of of all twisted pair cable types which include CAT3, CAT4, CAT5, CAT6, etc. This article details CAT5 used in copper networks from its working principles, its standard, as well as its installation considerations.
CAT5 is widely used in 100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T Ethernet networks. CAT5 typically contains four pairs of copper wire. In 100BASE-TX standard, the signals are transmitted across only two of the CAT5 pairs. One pair is used to transmit signals, and the second pair receives the signals, leaving the other two unused in signal transmission. What’s more, the 100BASE-TX signals only run in one direction across the pairs. As technology advanced, the 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) standard was developed. 1000BASE-T standard utilizes all four copper pairs to transmit up to 250 megabits of data per second (Mbps) in full duplex transmission across each pair. That is to say, each pair is able to transmit and receive signals simultaneously. 1000BASE-T modules (eg. GLC-T) functioning over CAT 5 with RJ-45 connector achieve full duplex transmission with link length up to 100m (328ft).
There are two standards for CAT5 wiring, EIA/TIA-568A and EIA/TIA-568B. The following passages mainly discuss EIA/TIA-568A.
The TIA-EIA-568-A standard defined the following three main parameters for testing Category 5 cabling installations: wiremap, attenuation, and Near End Crosstalk (NEXT).
Wiremap is a continuity test. It assures that the conductors that make up the four twisted pairs in the cable are continuous from the termination point of one end of the link to the other. This test assures that the conductors are terminated correctly at each end and that none of the conductor pairs are crossed or short-circuited.
Attenuation is the loss of signal, as it is transmitted from the end of the cable to the opposite end at which it is received. Attenuation, also referred to as Insertion Loss, is measured in decibels (dB). For attenuation, the lower the dB value is, the better the performance is, and of course less signal is lost. This attenuation is typically caused by absorption, reflection, diffusion, scattering, deflection.
Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) measures the amount of signal coupled from one pair to another within the cable caused by radiation emission at the transmitting end.If the crosstalk is great enough, it will interfere with signals received across the circuit. Crosstalk is measured in dB. The higher the dB value, the better the performance, more of the signal is transmitted and less is lost due to coupling.
After testing parameters are mentioned above, here goes the notes of CAT 5 installation.
- Never pull CAT5 copper wire with excessive force. The CAT5 tension limitation is 25 lbs, much lower than standard audio/video cable.
- Never step on, crush, or crimp CAT5.
- Avoid periodic sags; vary the intervals if the cable must sag.
- Do not bend CAT5 wire tightly around a corner; ensure that it bends gradually, so that a whole circle would be at least two inches in diameter.
- Do not allow knots or kinks, even temporarily.
- Never run CAT5 parallel to power wiring closer than six inches.
- Avoid splices. Every splice degrades the line.
Although CAT5 is superseded by CAT5e in many applications, most CAT5 cable meets Cat5e standards and it’s still a commonplace in Local Area Networks (LANs). Many copper networks choose CAT5 as their transmission media because of its low price and high performance. Fiberstore supplies many CAT5 RJ45 pluggable modules, like 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T transceivers (eg. SFP-GE-T). For more information about copper network solutions, you can visit Fiberstore.