Category 5 cable includes four twisted pairs in a single cable jacket. This use of balanced lines helps preserve a high signal-to-noise ratio despite interference from both external sources and other pairs. It is most commonly used for 100 Mbit/s office computer networks, such as 100BaseTX Ethernet, although IEEE 802.3ab defines standards for 1000BaseT – Gigabit Ethernet over category 5 cable.
Cat 5e cable is an enhanced version of Cat 5 that adds specifications for far end crosstalk. Although 1000BaseT was designed for use with Cat 5 cable, the tighter specifications associated with Cat 5e cable and connectors make it an excellent choice for use with 1000BaseT. Despite the stricter performance specifications, Cat 5e cable does not enable longer cable distances for Ethernet networks: cables are still limited to a maximum of 100m (328 ft) in length.
Connectors and other information
The cable exists in both stranded and solid conductor forms. The stranded form is more flexible and withstands more bending without breaking. Taking these things into account, building wiring (for example, the wiring inside the wall that connects a wall socket to a central patch panel) is solid core, while patch cables (for example, the movable cable that plugs into the wall socket on one end and a computer on the other) are stranded. Outer insulation is typically PVC or Plenum. Plenum cable is designed to go into drop ceilings that are used as air returns for the air-conditioning systems in modern office buildings.
Nearly always, 8P8C modular connectors, commonly referred to as “RJ-45”, are used for connecting category 5 cable.
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