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The Type of Networking Patch Cable or Ethernet Patch Cable

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Posted on  July 9, 2013  by FS.COM

Tags:Copper Patch Cable , Ethernet Cable

What Is Networking Patch Cable or Ethernet Patch Cable?

A Ethernet networking patch cord can be manufactured in several different lengths and colors to fit the needs of the installer. Patch cords consist of two RJ45 modular plugs, one placed on each end of a stranded cable. Stranded cable is made up of four pairs of twisted wire, and is used for patch cables because of its ability to be bent without causing damage to the wire or interruption of data transfer. As their name implies, patch cords are used to "patch" the computer to a network by connecting to a NIC card, or linking network equipment together in data rooms.

Ever wonder why some networks seem slow even when they are utilizing top of the line servers? The reduced speeds can sometimes be attributed to the use of inferior patch cords. Like most things, a network is only as strong as its weakest part. Think of patch cords as the 'highway' for data going between the patch panel and the routers/switches, or an office PC to a RJ45 jack in the wall.

Current Standards for Cat Patch Cords

Cat 1: Wiring used in POTS telephone communications, ISDN and wiring for doorbells. Not recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 2: Was used on a 4 Mbit/s token ring networks. Not recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 3: Typically used on 10 Mbit/s Ethernet networks and can be used up to 16 MHz. Currently recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 4: Typically used on 16 Mbit/s token ring networks and can be used up to 20 MHz. Not recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 5: Typically used on 100 Mbit/s Ethernet networks and can be used up to 100 MHz; however, Cat5 is not suitable for 1000BASE-T gigabit Ethernet. Not recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 5e: Typically used on 100 Mbit/s Ethernet networks and gigabit Ethernet networks; can be used up to 100 MHz. Currently recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 6: Performs at more than double the MHz of Cat5 and Cat5e, going up to 250 MHz. Currently recognized by TIA/EIA Cat 6a: Standard for future 10 Gbit/s applications Cat 7: Standard used to describe ISO/IEC 11801 Class F cabling. Cat7 is a protective shield covering 4 individually shielded pairs (STP) for transmission of frequencies of up to 600 MHz

Cat 3 (Category 3) Patch Cables

Cat 3 cables were the standard patch cable in the early 90's. Data could be transmitted at speeds up to 10Mbps. Today only 2 pair and 3 pair Cat 3 cabling is still used in the telecommunication industry but seldom used in the computer industry.

Cat 5 & Cat 5e (Category 5, Category 5 Enhanced) Patch Cables

The need for more bandwidth and faster networks forced a new standard in Category cabling in the late 90's. The Category 5 standard was ratified and the new cable standard became 100MHz at 100Mbps. Cat 5 was short lived once Category 5 Enhanced (or Cat 5e) came along. Cat 5e patch cables are tested up to 350MHz at 1 Gbps.

Cat 6 (Category 6) Patch Cables

The official standard for Cat 6 cabling is 200MHz (twice the bandwidth of Cat 5) but most manufacturers test their Cat 6 patch cables up to 550MHz at 1 Gbps. Cat 6 cabling was created to facilitate the future bandwidth requirements needed for streaming multimedia applications. 

Cat 6 follows very strict rules in both the manufacturing process and in channel requirements. Wiring must maintain a tight pair twist as close to the connector/jack as possible. Category 6 channel requirements specify that every component in a Cat 6 network must meet minimum standards to ensure optimal performance.

Some Cat 6 cables are constructed with a plastic spline separating the pairs for better performance. Other manufacturers have found different ways to achieve Cat 6 requirements, such as using tighter pair twists. Either way, the construction of the cable does not matter as long as Cat 6 standards are met.

Fiberstore offers molded, pre-made patch cables in a variety of lengths and colours. For more information, please feel free to contact us at

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