Category 5 cables, also known as Cat5 cables, are twisted pair cables used in IT and networking environments for carrying signals. The most common use for Cat5 cables is as an Ethernet for connecting computers, laptops, and any other capable device. There’s also the Cat5e cables, which are basically the same thing but allegedly improve some specifications by tightening some crosstalk specifications and introducing new crosstalk specifications.
The Cat5 cable can provide adequete performance of up to 100 MHz. Recently, it’s become more common for these network Ethernet cables to carry signals such as mobile phones, telephony, and video. With Cat5 crossover cables you can even connect two of the same systems like a computer to another computer. Here are four basic characteristics of standard Cat5 cables.
- Insulation: The cord you’re used to seeing in the back of your computer and plugging into say, a router is the insulation of the real ‘guts’ of the Cat5 cable. This outer case is what protects and insulates the cable. It’s usually made of some kind of PVC or LSOH.
- Individual Twist Lengths: Crosstalk can be reduced by altering the length of each individual twist, without affecting the signal. The distance per twist is known as the pitch. There is no specified standard of pitch length for twisted pairs, which can cause slight variation from one product to another.
- Conductors: These are the actual wires typically made of copper and are required to be no thicker than 22 American Wire Gauge (AWG) and no thinner than 24 AWG, or 26 AWG for shorter-distance cabling.
- Environmental Ratings: Not a physical characteristic, but Cat5 cables in the U.S. and Canada are certified under seven different environmental standards depending on factors such as, the insulation used, flame resistance, and smoke.
Quality Cat5 cables can easily be expected to last between five and ten years and can be purchased in bulk at reduced rates.