In theory, there are several classifications of copper cabling systems available for datacom applications today. In fact,the EIA/TIA-568-A standard (see .EIA/TIA 568-a standard) defines five categories or types of copper cable and components:
Category 3 -16 MHz, 100 ohm. unshielded twisted pair.
Category 5/5e -100 MHz, 100 ohm, unshielded twisted pair.
|Category 6 - 250MHz|
Category 7 - 600 MHz
The reality, however, is that only one-Category 5-is in
widespread use at this Lime. In fact, Cat 5 has become synonymous with copper (as opposed
to fiber optic) teledata systems.
The reason is simple: speed.
Category 3 cabling, at just 16 MHz, was originally intended for slower computer networking protocols like old-style Ethernet. But as data applications speeded up, Cat 3 soon became too slow for anything but voice telephone communications. Rather than moving up to the next level of bandwidth-the 20 MHz Category 4 systems-most data network specifiers and users jumped directly to Category 5 for significantly greater speed.
What's more, as prices for Cat 5 cable and components have dropped, many installers now use Cat 5 for all voice systems as well as data systems, virtually eliminating Cat 3 from the market.
- This article was written by Brooke Stauffer.
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