Category 3

Category 5

Category 5e

Category 6

Side by side comparison

Wall mount faceplate


Old wiring - RG59 - Telephone

Old telephone wire - this wire does not meet TIA standard.

Incapable of reliable data transmission.


Next level, CAT3 - to the right

Category 3 wire - notice the TWISTING of the pairs of wire

Capable of transmission up to 10 Mbps.

Commonly, CAT3 cable is used for telephone wiring.

Next level, CAT5 - to the right

Category 5 wire - the TWISTING has increased even more.

Handles voice or data at 100 MHz.

Commonly used for telephone or networks. This is competitively priced against CAT3.

Next level, CAT5e - below to the left

Category 5e wire - the TWISTING has increased even more yet!

Tighter specifications give CAT5e a rating of 350 MHz. CAT5e also provides better performance. Requires stringent adherence to installation practices as well as proper connectors and patch cords to perform at this level.

Next level, CAT6 - far right

 Category 6 wire - Notice the piece, dividing the pairs, and the TWISTING.

The newest standard of cable, as of 2002.  Backwards compatible and 1 AWG thicker copper, the use of this cable has become widespread enough to make the pricing competitive.  Cat6 offers the highest performance for twisted copper cable - Gigaspeed.

Next Level - Category7 (not ratified)

Fiber Optics

Fiber Optics can be used to the desk and is competitively priced, but the cost of electronics to make it workable is cost prohibitive.  However, when distance limitations rule out copper cable - fiber is the answer.  Typically used for "backbone", fiber allows multiple networks to be turned into one large network.  Fiber is also immune to EMI, making is the best choice in applications where interference is a problem.


Twisted pair wire prevents interference (cross-talk) from other pairs in the same bundle and minimizes interference from sources such as power circuits and motors.


Although the cable colors and sheath size appear different, all but OLD red-green-yellow-black are:

4 PAIRS OF 24AWG UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair).

All wires require proper installation to perform as stated.

Kinking, burning, improper stripping or termination and other factors during installation can impede the rated performance of the cabling installed.







<== 6 pin (RJ11) phone jack - 8 pin (RJ45) network jack



<== "F" connect (in use, CATV) - Blank







Phone jack pinout.  This may sometimes use screws.  If so, when using color coded connections with twisted pairs of cable, match the colors as shown.



TIA 568A jack pinout.  Follow the color codes on your jack, but the pinout numbers are always as shown.  This should always be twisted pairs of cable.  Note that TIA 568A and USOC pinout are the same for the center two pairs of wire.  Notice the pattern in the center = blue and white/blue + white/orange and orange!  This is why this standard is preferred in residential applications.




TIA 568A jack pinout.  Follow the color codes on your jack, but the pinout numbers are always as shown.  This pinout should always be used in commercial applications.