UTP cables (Unshielded Twisted-Pair Cables) is network cables that consists of up to 4 pairs of wires. Each pair is twisted around each other at a different rate and the entire cable is encased in a protective plastic covering.
Unshielded twisted-pair cable is separated into five categories designated by the TIA/EIA 568-A standard.
Category 1 is commonly used as telephone wire and cannot support computer network traffic.
Category 2 and more advanced categories include network wire specifications. They support both telephone traffic and computer traffic. Category 2 is common on token ring networks and supports speeds up to 4 Mbps and is not recommended for Ethernet networks.
Categories 3 and 4 can be used with Ethernet networks, but suffer more from EMI than category 5. Category 3 cables typically have two twists per foot. Category 4 cables have more twists per foot, but less than Category 5 cables. The twisting of the wires in cables is to help prevent EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference).
Category 5e is one of the most popular UTP cables. It replaced the traditional coaxial cable that was unable to keep up with the need for more reliable and faster networks. UTP cables are popular because of their cost effectiveness and flexibility. Category 5 UTP, there are usually 4 pairs of wires, with one wire of solid color and one of white with the same color stripe in each pair: 1 orange pair, 1 brown pair, 1 blue pair and 1 green pair
The main advantage of unshielded twisted pair cables is that they are cheaper per meter compared to their shielded counterparts and other types of local area network cabling. This not only makes them the most affordable choice, but also the most easily dispensable.
UTP cables are easy to install. Since they are the most frequently used networking cables in the telecommunications and computer industry, they are compatible with most networking systems. The main disadvantage of UTP cables is their susceptibility to electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference. They also have a smaller bandwidth compared to coaxial cables or fiber optic cables.
The TIA/EIA 568 standard has two wiring sequences, T568A and T568B. The sequence of the wires dictates how the wires are terminated on the RJ-45 connector. Either sequence may be used to set up a network. Once a wiring sequence has been chosen, using the same sequence throughout the entire network is necessary. Data networks usually use the TIA/EIA 568B standard. The wires must be correctly paired together for the entire length of the cable to ensure signal quality.