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Cats and Cables

In the 1980s, work began on standards for cables which could meet the new need for high-speed data, especially in local area networks (LANs). Five categories of cable have been defined, and a sixth is...


May 1, 2000  


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In the 1980s, work began on standards for cables which could meet the new need for high-speed data, especially in local area networks (LANs). Five categories of cable have been defined, and a sixth is nearing completion. As the category number increases, transmission quality improves and the price rises. The following is a rough guide:

CAT 1: Traditional phone wire. Suitable for analog voice and data, ISDN Basic rate, and doorbells.

CAT 2: Originally known as IBM Type 3. Suitable for 4 Mbps Token Ring LANs and T1. Rarely used.

CAT 3: Designed for 10 Mbps Ethernet. Widely used for digital PBX systems, but now declining in favor of Cat 5.

CAT 4: Designed for 10 Mbps Ethernet and 16 Mbps Token Ring. Rarely used.

CAT 5: Designed for 100 Mbps Ethernet and 155 Mbps ATM. This is the preferred cable for most business installations today.

CAT 6: Under development for 1000 Mbps Ethernet.

CAT 7: A standard for shielded twisted pair, able to provide even more bandwidth than Category 6 and expected to be popular mainly in the European market.

Reprinted (except for Category 7 definition), with permission, from Telemanagement: The Angus Report on Business Telecommunications in Canada. For information, see www.angustel.ca.


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