Alternatively referred to as an Ethernet cable, a CAT5 or Category 5 cable uses fifth generation of twisted pair Ethernet Technology. It is used for carrying signals and consists of four twisted pairs of copper wire connected via RJ-45 connector. Cat5 has a maximum length of 100m, exceeding this length without the aid of bridge or other network device could cause network issues.
It can supports 100 Mb/s speed over a 100 MHz bandwidth communication and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet), and 2.5GBASE-T. Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.
Cables twisting is not standard but normally there the pitch is between 1.3 – 1.95 cm for each pair. Within a single cable, each colored pair will also have different twist lengths based on prime numbers so that no two twists ever align. The amount of twists per pair is usually unique for each cable manufacturer.
Most Category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the balanced line twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise rejection. These cables can be bent at any radius exceeding approximately four times the outside diameter of the cable.
Cat-5 cables can carry up to 25 watts of power through the use of Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Twisted pair cable like CAT5 comes in two main varieties, solid and stranded.
Solid CAT5 cable supports longer length runs and works best in fixed wiring configurations like office buildings. Stranded CAT5 cable, on the other hand, is more pliable and better suited for shorter-distance, movable cabling such as on-the-fly patch cables.
Although newer cable technologies like CAT6 and CAT7 have subsequently been developed, Category 5 Ethernet cable remains the popular choice for most wired local area networks (LANs), because or the combination of affordability and high performance that Ethernet gear offers.
Cat 5 cables uses two standards to wire cables to connectors, these are named as “Straight cables” (EIA/TIA-568B) and “Cross Over cables” (EIA/TIA-568A). Both are appropriate for high speed data, though Straight cables are somewhat more common for installed wiring and Cross Over cables are more common in jumpers. There is no performance advantage either way. The only real difference between the two is the order in which the pairs are used (orange and green).