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ANSI Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable Categories

Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge - Boston


ANSI/EIA (American National Standards Institute/Electronic Industries Association) Standard 568 is one of several standards that specify "categories" (the singular is commonly referred to as "CAT") of Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cabling systems (wires, junctions, and connectors) in terms of the data rates that they can sustain. The specifications describe the cable material as well as the types of connectors and junction blocks to be used in order to conform to a category. These categories are:

Category

Maximum Data Rate

Usual Application

CAT 1

Less than 1 Mbps

Analog voice (POTS)
Integrated Services Digital Network Basic Rate Interface in ISDN
Doorbell wiring

CAT 2

4 Mbps

Mainly used in the IBM Cabling System for token ring networks

CAT 3

16 Mbps

Voice and data on 10BASE-T Ethernet

CAT 4

20 Mbps

Used in 16 Mbps Token Ring
Otherwise not used much

CAT 5

100 Mbps
1000 Mbps (4 pair)

100 Mbps TPDDI (100BASE-T or Fast Ethernet)
155 Mbps ATM
Gigabit Ethernet

CAT 5E

100 Mbps

100 Mbps TPDDI (100BASE-T or Fast Ethernet)
155 Mbps ATM

CAT 6

200-250 MHz

Super-fast Broadband Applications. Click here for a Tutorial on CAT 6 cables, by Lucent Technology

While longer connections for Gigabit Ethernet use optical fiber, the goal is to leverage the CAT 5 twisted-pair wiring most organizations already have in place for connections out to the desktop. (Four pairs of twisted pair are used.)

The two most popular specifications are CAT 3 and CAT 5. While the two cables may look identical, CAT 3 is tested to a lower set of specifications and can cause transmission errors if pushed to faster speeds. CAT 3 cabling is near-end crosstalk-certified for only a 16 MHz signal, while CAT 5 cable must pass a 100 MHz test.

The CAT 6 specification was not yet formally approved by the EIA as of March, 2001, although products are being offered that conform to a proposed specification. A CAT 7 specification is reportedly being considered.

A commom modular connector (terminator) used on CAT 5 cabling are the RJ-45 type. See the diagrams below for the proper pin arrangment. The RJ-11 connector is the standard North American telephone plug and jack pair.



 Color Codes for RJ-45 Ethernet Plug - EIA/TIA 568A/568B and AT&T 258A

Eight-conductor data cable (Cat 3 or Cat 5) contains 4 pairs of wires. Each pair consists of a solid color wire and a white and color striped wire. Each of the pairs are twisted together. To maintain reliability on Ethernet, you should not untwist them any more than necessary (about 1/4 inch).

The pairs designated for 10BaseT Ethernet are Orange and Green. The other two pairs, Brown and Blue, are unused. The connections shown are specifically for an RJ45 plug. The wall jack may be wired in a different sequence because the wires may be crossed inside the jack. The jack should either come with a wiring diagram or at least designate pin numbers that you can match up to the color code below.

There are two wiring standards for these cables, called T-568A and T-568B. They differ only in pin assignments, not in uses of the various colors. The illustration above shows both standards.  With the T-568B specification the Orange and Green pairs are located on pins 1, 2 and 3, 6 respectively. The T-568A specification reverses the Orange and Green connections, so that the Blue and Orange pairs are on the center 4 pins, which makes it more compatible with the telco voice connections.

T-568A is supposed to be the standard for new installations, and T-568B is the alternative. However, most off-the-shelf data equipment and cables seem to be wired to T568B.

 Pin Number Designations for EIA/TIA 568A/568B and AT&T 258A

Pin

Color

Pair

Description

1

White/Orange

2

TxData +

2

Orange

2

TxData -

3

White/Green

3

RcData +

4

Blue

1

Unused

5

White/Blue

1

Unused

6

Green

3

RcData -

7

White/Brown

4

Unused

8

Brown

4

Unused

EIA/TIA 568A/568B and AT&T 258A define the wiring standards and allow for two different wiring color codes.

Pin #

EIA/TIA 568A

AT&T 258A, or EIA/TIA 568B

Ethernet 10BASE-T

Token Ring

FDDI, ATM, and TP-PMD

1

White/Green

White/Orange

X

 

X

2

Green/White

Orange/White

X

 

X

3

White/Orange

White/Green

X

X

 

4

Blue/White

Blue/White

 

X

 

5

White/Blue

White/Blue

 

X

 

6

Orange/White

Green/White

X

X

 

7

White/Brown

White/Brown

 

 

X

8

Brown/White

Brown/White

 

 

X

  • On even Pin numbers, wires may only have a solid color with no stripe.
  • For each Pin number, the first color is solid and the second color is the stripe (ie. Pin #2 for 568A - Green wire with White stripe optional, Pin#5 for 568A White wire Blue stripe.)
  • Note: Odd pin numbers will always have a wire with a color stripe. Solid colored wires (if present) will only be on the even numbered pins.
  • Category 5 cable must use Category 5 rated connectors.

Pin

Color

Pair

Description

1

White/Green

3

RcData +

2

Green

3

RcData -

3

White/Orange

2

TxData +

4

Blue

1

Unused

5

White/Blue

1

Unused

6

Orange

2

TxData -

7

White/Brown

4

Unused

8

Brown

4

Unused


 Straight-Through vs Cross-Over

In general, the patch cords that you use with your Ethernet connections are "straight-through", which means that pin 1 of the plug on one end is connected to pin 1 of the plug on the other end (for either standard). The only time you cross connections in 10BaseT is when you connect two Ethernet devices directly together without a hub or connect two hubs together. Then you need a "cross-over" patch cable, which crosses the transmit and receive pairs. An easy way remember how to make a crossover cable is to wire one end with the T-568A standard and the other with the T-568B standard.


Crossover Cable

RJ-45 PIN

RJ-45 PIN

1 Rx+

3 Tx+

2 Rc-

6 Tx-

3 Tx+

1 Rc+

6 Tx-

2 Rc-

Straight Through Cable

RJ-45 PIN

RJ-45 PIN

1 Tx+

1 Rc+

2 Tx-

2 Rc-

3 Rc+

3 Tx+

6 Rc-

6 Tx-

Please Note: The standard connector view shown is color-coded for a straight thru cable assembly, when connecting Hub to Xcvr or DNI Card. When connecting hub to hub, Xcvr to Xcvr, or DNI to DNI, the wires must crossover at the opposite end of the cable assembly.

 Interconnecting Your Hubs, Transceivers, and DNI Cards

As noted in the illustrations below, a crossover cable is required when connecting a Hub to a Hub, or a Transceiver to Transceiver, or DNI to DNI card, or Transceiver to DNI card. When connecting a Hub to a transceiver or DNI card, a straight through cable is always used.

Hub to Hub Connectivity

Hub to Transceiver or DNI Card Connectivity

Transceiver to DNI Connectivity

 Termination

UTP cables are terminated with standard connectors, jacks and punch downs. The jack/plug is often referred to as a "RJ-45", but that's a  telco designation for the "modular 8 pin connector" terminated with a USOC pin out used for telephones. The male connector on the end of a patch cord is called a "plug" and the receptacle on the wall outlet is a "jack."

In LANs, as specified by 568, there are two possible pin outs, called T568A and T568B, that differ only in which color coded pairs are connected - pair 2 and 3 are reversed. Either works equally well, as long as you don't mix them! If you always use only one version, you're OK, but if you mix A and B in a cable run, you will get crossed pairs!

The Cable Pairs are Color Coded as follows:


Pair 1 White with Blue-Stripe/Blue
Pair 2 White with Orange-Stripe/Orange
Pair 3 White with Green-Stripe/Green
Pair 4 White with Brown-Stripe/Brown

 

 

 

Jacks usually have punch downs on the back or can be terminated without punch downs using special manufacturer's tools or even a cover for the connector. Again, you MUST keep the twists as close to the receptacle as possible to minimize crosswalk.

Note that Cat 3 jacks and all plugs are going to use these color codes. However, Cat 5 jacks have internal connections that continue the twists as close to the pins in the jacks as possible. Thus the pin out on the back of the jacks will not usually follow these layouts! Always follow the color codes on the back of the jacks to insure proper connections! 


Crossover Cables: 

Normal cables that connect a PC/NIC card to a hub are wired straight through. That is pin 1 is connected to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, etc. However, if you are simply connecting two PCs together without a hub, you need to use a Crossover Cable made by reversing pair 2 and 3 in the cable, the two pairs used for transmission by Ethernet. The easy way to make a crossover cable is to make one end to T568A color coding and the other end to T568B. Then the pairs will be reversed.

Punchdowns: 

Punchdowns come in 4 varieties: 110, 66, Bix and Krone. Most popular for LANs is the 110 (on the left), for telcos it's the 66 (on the right), and the Bix and Krone are rare (price, proprietary designs, etc.)

110 block 66 block

 

Color Codes For Punchdowns: 

Punchdowns of all types are always made with the pairs in order with the White/stripe wire first, then the colored wire, Pair 1(White/Blue-Blue), Pair 2 (White/Orange-Orange), Pair 3 (White/Green-Green), Pair 4 (White/Brown-Brown). (This color code is  remembered by BLOG - Blue Orange Green and Brown).

 



Understanding the USOC and RJ-xx Codes

Then following will help break down what those USOC and RJ-xx codes really mean. The Universal Service Ordering Code (USOC) system was developed by the Bell System and introduced by AT&T in the 1970s to connect customer premises equipment to the public network. These codes, adopted in part by the FCC, Part 68, Subpart F, Section 68.502, are a series of Registered Jack (RJ) wiring configurations for telephone jacks that remain in use today.

Registered Jack numbers end with a letter indicating the wiring or mounting method being used.

  • "C" - Identifies a surface or flush mounted jack.
  • "W" - Identifies a wall mounted jack.
If you (the telphone subscriber) want to have a standard jack other than the RJ-xxW or RJ-xxC installation, you should specify the appropriate USOC when requesting the installation.
  • "S" - Identifies a Single-line jack.
  • "M" - Indentifies a Multi-line jack.
  • "X" - Identifies a Complex Multi-line or Series Type jack.

You may also see these terms associated with the USOC code system.

  • "T/R" - Denotes connections to the Tip and Ring wires of a Telephone Communictions Line, Trunk Channel, or Facility.
  • "A/A1" - Signifies connections to the Hold Functions of key telephone systems. The "A" lead corresponds to a particular line shorted to the "A!" lead when that line is Off-hook in order for that line's "Hold" function to operate correctly.
  • "Bridged" - Signifies a Parallel Connection.
  • "Data" - Data configurations use jacks that incorporate components to Limit Signal Power Levels of Data Equipment.






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