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Category 5 cable

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Category 5 cable that is partially stripped and showing its four twisted pairs (eight wires)

Category 5 cable (Cat 5) is a twisted pair cable for computer networks. Since 2001, the variant commonly in use is the Category 5e specification (Cat 5e). The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for most varieties of Ethernet over twisted pair up to 2.5GBASE-T[1][2][3][4] but more commonly runs at 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet) speeds. Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephone and video.

This cable is commonly connected using punch-down blocks and modular connectors. Most Category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the balanced line twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise suppression.


Category 5 is currently defined in ISO/IEC 11801, IEC 61156 and EN 50173, though it was originally defined in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A (with clarification in TSB-95).[5] These documents specify performance characteristics and test requirements for frequencies up to 100 MHz.

The cable is available in both stranded and solid conductor forms. The stranded form is more flexible and withstands more bending without breaking. Patch cables are stranded. Permanent wiring used in structured cabling is solid. The category and type of cable can be identified by the printing on the jacket.[6]

The Category 5 specification requires conductors to be pure copper. There has been a rise in counterfeit cables, especially of the copper-clad aluminum (CCA) variety.[7] This has exposed the manufacturers and installers of such fake cable to legal liabilities.[8]

Variants and comparisons[edit]

The Category 5e specification improves upon the Category 5 specification by further mitigating crosstalk.[9] The bandwidth (100 MHz) and physical construction are the same between the two,[10] and most Cat 5 cables actually happen to meet Cat 5e specifications even though they are not certified as such.[11] Category 5 was deprecated in 2001 and superseded by the Category 5e specification.[12]

The Category 6 specification improves upon the Category 5e specification by extending frequency response and further reducing crosstalk. The improved performance of Cat 6 provides 250 MHz bandwidth.[12] Category 6A cable provides 500 MHz bandwidth. Both variants are backward compatible with Category 5 and 5e cables.


TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 T568A Wiring
Pin Pair Wire Color
1 3 1 Pair 3 Wire 1 white/green
2 3 2 Pair 3 Wire 2 green
3 2 1 Pair 2 Wire 1 white/orange
4 1 2 Pair 1 Wire 2 blue
5 1 1 Pair 1 Wire 1 white/blue
6 2 2 Pair 2 Wire 2 orange
7 4 1 Pair 4 Wire 1 white/brown
8 4 2 Pair 4 Wire 2 brown
TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 T568B Wiring[13]
Pin Pair Wire Color
1 2 1 Pair 2 Wire 1 white/orange
2 2 2 Pair 2 Wire 2 orange
3 3 1 Pair 3 Wire 1 white/green
4 1 2 Pair 1 Wire 2 blue
5 1 1 Pair 1 Wire 1 white/blue
6 3 2 Pair 3 Wire 2 green
7 4 1 Pair 4 Wire 1 white/brown
8 4 2 Pair 4 Wire 2 brown
A Cat 5e dual-port wall-mount assembly showing the two wiring schemes: A for T568A, B for T568B
Category 5 patch cable in T568B wiring

Cable types, connector types and cabling topologies are defined by ANSI/TIA-568. Category 5 cable is nearly always terminated with 8P8C modular connectors (often referred to incorrectly as RJ45 connectors[14][15][16]). The cable is terminated in either the T568A scheme or the T568B scheme. The two schemes work equally well and may be mixed in an installation so long as the same scheme is used on both ends of each cable.


Category 5 cable is used in structured cabling for computer networks such as Ethernet over twisted pair. The cable standard prescribes performance parameters for frequencies up to 100 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet), and 2.5GBASE-T. 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX Ethernet connections require two wire pairs. 1000BASE-T and faster Ethernet connections require four wire pairs. Through the use of power over Ethernet (PoE), power can be carried over the cable in addition to Ethernet data.

Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.[17] In some cases, multiple signals can be carried on a single cable; Cat 5 can carry two conventional telephone lines as well as 100BASE-TX in a single cable.[18][19][20][21][22] The USOC/RJ-61 wiring standard may be used in multi-line telephone connections. Various schemes exist for transporting both analog and digital video over the cable. HDBaseT (10.2 Gbit/s) is one such scheme.[23]


The use of balanced lines helps preserve a high signal-to-noise ratio despite interference from both external sources and crosstalk from other pairs.

Electrical characteristics for a commercially available Cat 5e UTP cable product
Property Nominal Tolerance Unit ref
Characteristic impedance, 1–100 MHz 100 ± 15 Ω [24]
Characteristic impedance @ 100 MHz 100 ± 5 Ω [24]
DC loop resistance ≤ 0.188 Ω/m [24]
Propagation speed relative to the speed of light 0.64 1 [24]
Propagation delay 5.30 ns/m [24]
Delay skew < 100 MHz < 0.20 ns/m [24]
Capacitance at 800 Hz 52 pF/m [24]
Max tensile load, during installation 100 N [24]
Wire diameter (24 AWG; 0.205 mm2)) 0.51 mm [24]
Operating temperature −55 to +60 °C [24]
Maximum DC operating voltage
(PoE uses max 57 V)[25]
125 V [26]


Outer insulation is typically polyvinyl chloride (PVC)[27] or low smoke zero halogen (LS0H).[citation needed]

Example materials used as insulation in the cable[28]
Acronym Material
PE Polyethylene
FP Foamed polyethylene
FEP Fluorinated ethylene propylene
FFEP Foamed fluorinated ethylene propylene
AD/PE Air dielectric/polyethylene
LSZH or LS0H Low smoke, zero halogen
LSFZH or LSF0H Low smoke and fume, zero halogen

Bending radius[edit]

Most Category 5 cables can be bent at any radius exceeding approximately four times the outside diameter of the cable.[29][30]

Maximum cable segment length[edit]

The maximum length for a cable segment is 100 meters (330 ft) per TIA/EIA 568-5-A.[31] If longer runs are required, the use of active hardware such as a repeater or switch is necessary.[32][33] The specifications for 10BASE-T networking specify a 100-meter length between active devices.[34] This allows for 90 meters of solid-core permanent wiring, two connectors and two stranded patch cables of 5 meters, one at each end.[35]


Since 1995, solid-conductor UTP cables for backbone cabling is required to be no thicker than 22 American Wire Gauge (AWG) and no thinner than 24 AWG, or 26 AWG for shorter-distance cabling. This standard has been retained with the 2009 revision of ANSI TIA/EIA 568.[36]

Although cable assemblies containing four pairs are common, Category 5 is not limited to four pairs. Backbone applications involve using up to 100 pairs.[37]

Individual twist lengths[edit]

The distance per twist is commonly referred to as pitch. Each of the four pairs in a Cat 5 cable has a differing pitch to minimize crosstalk between the pairs. The pitch of the twisted pairs is not specified in the standard.

Environmental ratings[edit]

United States and Canada fire certifications[38]
Class Phrase Description Standards
LSZH Communications low-smoke zero halogen NES‑711, NES‑713, MIL‑C‑24643, UL 1685
CMP Communications plenum Insulated with fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) and polyethylene (PE) and jacketed with low-smoke polyvinyl chloride (PVC), due to better flame test ratings. CSA FT6[39] or NFPA 262 (UL 910)
CMR Communications riser Insulated with high-density polyolefin and jacketed with low-smoke polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

UL 1666

CMG Communications general purpose CSA FT4
CM Communications Insulated with high-density polyolefin, but not jacketed with PVC and therefore is the lowest of the three in flame resistance. UL 1685 (UL 1581, Sec. 1160) Vertical-Tray
CMX Communications residential UL 1581, Sec. 1080 (VW-1)

Some cables are UV-rated or UV-stable meaning they can be exposed to outdoor UV radiation without significant degradation.[40]

Plenum-rated cables are slower to burn and produce less smoke than cables using a mantle of materials like PVC. Plenum-rated cables may be installed in plenum spaces where PVC is not allowed.[41][self-published source?]

Shielded cables (FTP or STP) are useful for environments where proximity to RF equipment may introduce electromagnetic interference, and can also be used where eavesdropping likelihood should be minimized.


  1. ^ Cooney, Michael (2016-09-27). "IEEE sets new Ethernet standard that brings 5X the speed without disruptive cable changes". Network World. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  2. ^ Anthony, Sebastian (2016-09-29). "Here comes 5Gbps networking over standard cables". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  3. ^ Smith, Ryan. "At Last, a 2.5Gbps Consumer Network Switch: QNAP Releases QSW-1105-5T 5-Port Switch". www.anandtech.com. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  4. ^ "IEEE P802.3bz 2.5/5GBASE-T Task Force". www.ieee802.org. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  5. ^ "Additional Transmission Performance Guidelines for 4-pair 100 v category 5 Cabling" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-05. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  6. ^ "Ethernet Cable Identification and Use". Donutey. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
  7. ^ "APPLICATION NOTE Copper Clad Aluminum(CCA) Cables". Fluke Networks. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  8. ^ "Potential Legal Liabilities for Manufacturers and Installers of Category Communications Cables Made with Copper Clad Aluminum Conductors". Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, Inc. (CCCA). Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  9. ^ "Understanding Cat - 5 Cables" (PDF). Satelliete & Cable TV. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
  10. ^ "Cat5 Spec, cat6 specs, cat7 spec - Definitions, Comparison, Specifications". TEC Datawire. Archived from the original on 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
  11. ^ "Comparison between CAT 5, CAT 5e, CAT 6, CAT 7 Cables". Archived from the original on 2020-02-13.
  12. ^ a b "Voice and Data Cabling & Wiring Installations". Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  13. ^ "ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 Approved: April 12, 2001 ; Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard Part 1: General Requirements" (PDF). 090917 nag.ru
  14. ^ Trulove 2005, pp. 23, 132: ‘Designing LAN Wiring Systems: The 8-pin modular jack is sometimes referred to as an "RJ-45", because the connector/jack components are the same. However, RJ-45 actually applies to a special purpose jack configuration that is not used in LAN or standard telephone wiring. […] Work Area Outlets: Modular jacks are often referred to as "RJ-45" jacks. This is not really the correct moniker, although it is in very common use.’
  15. ^ Oliviero, Andrew; Woodward, Bill (July 20, 2009). "Connectors". Cabling: The Complete Guide to Copper and Fiber-Optic Networking (4th ed.). Sybex. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-470-47707-6. The RJ (registered jack) prefix is one of the most widely (and incorrectly) used prefixes in the computer industry; nearly everyone, including people working for cabling companies, is guilty of referring to an eight-position modular jack (sometimes called an 8P8C) as an RJ-45.
  16. ^ Semenov, Andrey B.; Strizhakov, Stanislav K.; Suncheley, Igor R. (October 3, 2002). "Electrical Cable Connectors". Structured cable systems. Springer. p. 129. ISBN 3-540-43000-8. The traditional 8-contact connector, which is called Western Plug, 8PMJ (8-position modular jack), 8P8C (8 position 8 conductor), or somewhat incorrectly RJ-45, is used widely in SCS practice.
  17. ^ "Transmitting video over CAT 5 cable". EE Times. 2005-06-08. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  18. ^ "Hack your House: Run Both Ethernet and Phone Over Existing Cat 5 Cable". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  19. ^ "LAN and Telephones". zytrax. October 21, 2015. Since 10base-T or 100base-TX wiring uses 2 pairs (4 wires) and each analog phone connection uses a single pair (2 wires) you can, subject to limitations, run 2 telephone connections and LAN traffic on category 5(e) wiring.
  20. ^ "Cable Sharing in Commercial Building Environments: Reducing Cost, Simplifying Cable Management, and Converging Applications onto Twisted-Pair Media". Siemon. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  21. ^ "RJ45/RJ11 Network Cable Splitters for Ethernet and Phone Line Sharing". carry one old fashioned analog telephone signal and one 10/100 Mbps Ethernet signal by the same single network cable.
  22. ^ "ATS 10/100 Base T Splitter Adapters". Duxcw.com. Archived from the original on 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  23. ^ HDBaseT Alliance (January 9, 2013). "HDBaseT Alliance Shows the Future of Connected Home Entertainment at CES 2013". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "SuperCat OUTDOOR CAT 5e U/UTP" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-16.
  25. ^ IEEE 802.3at-2009 Table 33-11
  26. ^ "Copper Data Cables" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-06-25.
  27. ^ "Specialized Ethernet Cable" (PDF). CableWholesale. August 2016.
  28. ^ "UTP-STP Cable" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  29. ^ "Selecting coax and twisted-pair cable". Electronic Products. Archived from the original on 2009-02-01.
  30. ^ "Category 5". Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  31. ^ "The Evolution of Copper Cabling Systems from Cat 5 to Cat 5e to Cat 6" (PDF). Panduit. 2004-02-27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  32. ^ "UTP technology" (PDF). Extron Electronics. 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  33. ^ "CAT 5e Cable Wiring Schemes". B&B Electronics. Archived from the original on 2012-10-05.
  34. ^ "IEEE Std 802.3-2008" (Document). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 2008. Table 13-1.
  35. ^ "Horizontal Cabling". The Network Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  36. ^ "ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-2001, Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard" (PDF). p. 6 ¶4.3.2.
  37. ^ As noted in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B-2 standard for backbone applications
  38. ^ "Technical Information" (PDF). Belden. p. 22.20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-20.
  39. ^ "CSA Flame Test Ratings". Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  40. ^ CIBSE (2000). "Understanding Building Integrated Photovoltaics - CIBSE TM25 - 5.8 Legislation. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)". app.knovel.com. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  41. ^ "What are the differences between PVC, riser and plenum-rated cables?". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.[self-published source]

Further reading[edit]

  • Trulove, James (December 19, 2005), LAN wiring (3rd ed.), McGraw-Hill Professional, ISBN 0-07-145975-8