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Selecting the appropriate Ethernet patchcord


Patch cord is an English name for crossover cables, i.e. cables that end with an RJ45 jack on both sides, which are used for signal transmission in the ICT industry. Selecting the correct cable guarantees reliable system operation, lack of interference or issues with data transmission.

Remember! Cables with RJ45 jack are called in various ways

As a starting point, it is worth noting that the type of cables described here is sold under various names, which makes things difficult for customers looking for such cables. They are called crossover cables, twisted-pair cables, internet patch cords, or Ethernet cables. Twisted-pair cable is a name referring to the way the cores are positioned in the cables – they are twister in pairs, which eliminates electromagnetic interference occurring during operation. Patch cords end with RJ45 jacks (Registered Jacks), which became the standard network connector and are commonly used in ICT installations. The number 45 indicates pins used in this connector, but this does not mean that these are the only pins working during operation. In addition, the RJ45 jack features a latch preventing the cable from disconnecting from devices. Ethernet cables are used in the ICT industry and IT networks, and they are used in places where Internet is used on a daily basis.

Types of Ethernet cables

When searching for a correct cable, you can stumble across a wide range of markings and categories, which are often incomprehensible for people who are not experts in this field. One of the problems is to select a cable with appropriate insulation, which will protect not only the cable itself, but also its surroundings in compliance with the requirements for cables and wires in the construction industry (CPR). Another problem is the selection of the shield protecting the signal against external interference. Let’s begin from explaining abbreviations used for denoting and differentiating particular Ethernet cables:

Selecting the appropriate Ethernet patchcord

  • U/UTP- unshielded cable (no cable shield and no pair shield)
  • U/FTP- shielded cable (no cable shield, pair shielded with a foil)
  • F/UTP- shielded cable (cable shielded with a foil, no pair shield)
  • F/FTP- shielded cable (cable shielded with a foil, pair shielded with a foil)
  • S/FTP- shielded cable (cable shielded with additional braid, pair shielded with a foil)
  • SF/FTP- shielded cable (cable shielded with a foil with additional braid, pair shielded with a foil)
  • SF/UTP- shielded cable (cable shielded with a foil with additional braid, no pair shield)

Shields mentioned above include: Al-PET foil, tinned copper wire braid, and aluminium wire braid.

Categories of crossover cables

When building an IT network, you need to know how fast it has to work. The key parameter is the category of copper cables as per the TIA/EIA-568-B standard for ICT cabling. Currently, the standard classifies cables in eight categories, including frequency bandwidth and acceptable data transfer speed. When selecting an Ethernet cable, you need to remember that every category has the properties of its sub-categories.

  • Crossover cables Cat. 1 – these cables are not dedicated for data transfer, but they are commonly used in ICT departments.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 2 – frequency bandwidth up to 4MHz and maximum speed of 1Mbit/s. Due to low data transfer speed, these cables have been replaced by twisted-pair cables of higher categories.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 3 – frequency bandwidth up to 16MHz and maximum speed of 4Mbit/s.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 4 – frequency bandwidth up to 20MHz and maximum speed of 16Mbit/s.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 5 – frequency bandwidth up to 100MHz and maximum speed of 1Gbit/s. Due to data transfer parameters, this twisted-pair cable is the most popular in computer networks.
  • Enhanced crossover cables Cat. 5e – enhanced version of Cat. 5 cable with frequency bandwidth up to 100MHz and maximum speed of 1Gbit/s.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 6 – frequency bandwidth up to 250MHz and maximum speed of 10Gbit/s.
  • Enhanced crossover cables Cat. 6e – frequency bandwidth up to 500MHz and maximum speed of 10Gbit/s.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 7 – frequency bandwidth up to 600MHz and maximum speed of 10Gbit/s.
  • Enhanced crossover cables Cat. 7A – frequency bandwidth up to 1000MHz and maximum speed over 10Gbit/s.
  • Crossover cables Cat. 8 – frequency bandwidth up to 2000MHz and maximum speed of 25/40 Gbit/s.

Depending on the type of crossover cable and its purpose, cables can be covered with appropriately matching external insulation. Such insulation is made of polyethylene (PE), polyurethane (PUR), polyvinylchloride (PVC), or increasingly popular LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen). The last material does not emit smoke during combustion.

Crossover cables in TME’s offer

In TME’s offer you can find products from companies like Logilink, Goobay or Harting, which offer various types of high quality cables. One novelty are shielded or unshielded patch cords from Digitus, available in different colours and categories, with transfer speed above 1Gbit/s. The core of the cable is pure copper or copper-plated aluminium. Insulation is made of a material that does not emit toxic fumes in combustion (LSZH). The variety of products in TME’s offer allows you to make your selection based on technical properties and other features, such as colour or length of the cable.

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