The EIA/TIA-568-A Standard for Cat5 data cabling defines the parameters, both throughout rates and cabling length. Newer cable, such as Category 6, is capable of much higher speeds, but it also costs more than Cat5. When it was introduced in 1995, the specification that defined Cat5 data cabling, defined the upper limits of what four pairs of copper wire could do for data networking. Cable testing ensures that your network will work after the cable is fully installed and terminated.

Cat5 Data Cabling Specifications

The Cat5 cabling standard set forth performance metrics for Category 5 and Enhanced 5. The previous, Category 3, set the maximum cable speed as sixteen Mhz. Cat5 data cabling, however, is capable of speeds up to 100 Mhz. This was known as the 100-Base-T Network Standard, versus the previous 10-Base-T. The maximum length allowed for the permanent link, defined as the maximum distance allowable, including patch cords, between active devices on the network, must be no more than 90 metres. The Cat5 standard also set testing standards for maximum allowable levels of attenuation, near- and far-end crosstalk (NEXT and FEXT), and delay and delay skew, and a number of other measurements based mostly on crosstalk.

Different Types of Tests

There are two basic types of tests that can be performed on data cabling, wiremapping and standards-based testing. The wiremap shows whether the cable is properly terminated at both ends as far as each colour being terminated in the proper location. Standards-based testing further breaks down into simple verification that the cable meets the minimum standards of the Cat5 certification. When it’s verified, the person performing the test simply compares the readings obtained against the standard. When the cable plant is certified, the end-user will receive a report giving the measurements obtained for each individual cable and where that cable goes. The cable tester tests for compliance of all cable metrics specified by the standard being tested to.

There Are Newer, More Expensive Options

The Cat5 data cabling standard is pretty old. This type of cabling is capable of running 100 Megabit Ethernet. The current standard in data cabling is Cat6 Augmented, which is capable of speeds up to ten Gigabits Ethernet. If you have very large amounts of data that regularly get sent around your network, Cat 6 might be what you need. However, if the amount of information being sent over your network is quite a bit smaller, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, Cat5 data cabling can save you a good deal of money in material costs. Cat5 data terminations are much easier to make properly than Cat6 terminations, also. Because Cat6 cabling is capable of such high speeds, the requirements for proper termination are much more stringent, requiring specialized training, whereas Cat5 terminations are relatively easy to make properly.