The 10xBase-T family of cabling follows the 802.3 standards for Ethernet, as do 10Base2 and 10Base5. It encompasses the 10BaseT, 100BaseT and 1000BaseT standards, which use different grades of similar cable to achieve different levels of performance.
10BaseT (10 Mb/sec, baseband, twisted pair) is half-duplex in operation. Half duplex is similar to how CB radio works in that only one person (device) may talk or transmit at a time. Whether you are communicating in half duplex or full duplex is determined by the devices at each end of the cable. Full duplex is the same as a telephone call where both parties (devices) may talk and listen at the same time.
We noted earlier that the naming convention for the physical cable used in UTP-based Ethernet networks uses a category number or CAT, with cable designations like CAT 5. The higher the category number (CAT class), the higher the maximum transmission rate is. Cabling details are laid out by the TIA/EIA (Telephone Industry Association/Electronic Industry Association) group and follow either the 568-A or 568-B wiring specifications.
Cabling for 100BaseT (100 Mb/sec, baseband, unshielded twisted pair) is similar in design except for the issues of material quality and installation care. Typically, this follows the same rule set for the original 10BaseT Ethernet standard, except it is 10 times faster and called Fast Ethernet.
In the 10xBaseT cabling family, all cabling ends with a RJ-45 (Registered Jack) connector. Visually this appears like a slightly larger version of the familiar RJ-11 connector commonly used with telephones.
All the 10xBaseT wiring schemes have a cable distance limit of 100 meters, including all connecting (patch) cables that run between network devices and distribution panels.
You saw previously that the different CAT types had different maximum transmission speeds. CAT 3 is limited a maximum of 16Mb/sec, while CAT 5 generally has a maximum speed of 100Mb/sec. This tells us that CAT3 cable can be used to wire a 10BaseT network, since it is capable of transmitting data at least as fast as the 10Mbit/sec 10BaseT standard. It also tells us that CAT 5 cable can be used to wire a 100BaseT network, since both of those technologies require reliable operation at 100Mbit/sec.
The exception in CAT 5 is the enhanced series, which is rated to 350Mb/sec. (Not all CAT 5 is enhanced. Caveat emptor!)
All components, for example RJs, patch panels, wiring, hubs, and wall plates must be rated to the same maximum and correct installation procedures followed.
In other words, putting a CAT 3 wall plate wiring scheme that is otherwise all CAT 5, make that wiring system CAT 3. Improper installation of cabling will render a CAT 5 system something less than CAT 5.
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