What are the Ethernet cable Standards?

What Are Ethernet Cable StandardsAn Ethernet cable standard describes the properties, functions, and implementation of a specific media type. There are various types of media. A media type can provide different speeds of transmission on different types of implementation. An Ethernet standard specifies a specific implementation of a particular media type. Ethernet standards are defined by IEEE.

Ethernet Terminology

Ethernet cable standards are expressed by using the following terminology.

Let’s take an example to understand the above terminology. The term ‘100BaseT’ describes the following: –

100: – The number 100 indicates that the standard data transmission speed of this media type is 100Mbps.

Base: – The ‘Base’ indicates that the media uses a baseband technology for transmission.

T: – The letter ‘T’ indicates that the media uses twisted-pair cabling.


This standard is also known as ThinNet. It uses coaxial cabling. It provides 10Mbps speed. It supports a maximum length of 200 meters. This standard is not used in modern networks.


This standard is also known as ThickNet. It also uses coaxial cabling and provides 10Mbps speed. It supports a maximum length of 500 meters. This standard is also not used in modern networks.


10BaseT is one of the most common Ethernet standards used in Ethernet networks. It uses UTP (Cat3 or higher) cables and Hubs. Hubs use a physical star topology and a logical bus topology. Hubs repeat and forward signals to all nodes. Because of Hubs, the 10BaseT networks are slow and susceptible to collisions.

This standard also specifies a rule about how many Hubs you can use in a network. This rule specifies that a maximum of four hubs can be placed between communicating workstations. This rule ensures that all stations on the network can detect a collision.

Due to the slow data transmission speed and collision, modern networks do not use the 10BaseT standard.


10BaseF is an implementation of 10BaseT over fiber optic cabling. 10BaseF offers only 10 Mbps, even though the fiber optic media has the capacity for much faster data rates. One of the implementations of 10BaseF is to connect two hubs as well as connecting hubs to workstations.

Due to the slow data transmission speed and expensive cabling, the 10BaseT standard is also not used in modern networks.


100BaseT4 was created to upgrade 10BaseT networks over Cat3 wiring to 100 Mbps without having to replace the wiring. Using four pairs of twisted pair wiring, two of the four pairs are configured for half-duplex transmission (data can move in only one direction at a time). The other two pairs are configured as simplex transmission, which means data moves only in one direction on a pair all the time.


100BaseTX is also known as Fast Ethernet. It transmits data at 100 Mbps. Fast Ethernet works nearly identically to 10BaseT, including that it has a physical star topology using a logical bus. 100BaseTX requires Cat5 or higher UTP cabling. It uses two of the four-wire pairs: one to transmit data and the other to receive data.

This is mostly used Ethernet standard in modern networks.


100BaseFX is known as Fast Ethernet over fiber. 100BaseFX runs over multimode fiber cables. Multimode fiber optic cables use LEDs to transmit data and are thick enough that the light signals bounce off the walls of the fiber. The dispersion of the signal limits the length of the multimode fiber.


1000BaseT is also known as Gigabit Ethernet. It uses Cat5 or higher grade UTP cable. It uses all four pairs of the cable. It uses a physical star topology with a logical bus. There is also 1000BaseF, which runs over multimode fiber optic cabling. It supports both the full-duplex and half-duplex modes of data transmission.


This standard is also known as 10 Gigabit Ethernet. It uses Cat6 or higher grade UTP cable. It uses all four pairs of the UTP cable. It provides 10 Gbps speed. It operates only in full-duplex mode.

Due to its high cost, it is normally used in the backbone of a network.

Differences between various 802.3 Ethernet standards

The following table compares the most common Ethernet standards and their properties.

StandardIEEE documentationCableMinimum cable gradeSpeedMaximum distance
10Base5802.3CoxialRG-810Mbs500 meter
10Base2802.3aCoxialRG-5810Mbps200 meter
10Base-T802.3iUTPCat 310 Mbps100 meters
100BaseT/TX802.3uUTPCat 5100 Mbps100 meters
100BaseFX802.3uMMF or SMFN/A100 Mbps2 km over MMF, 10 km over SMF
1000BaseT802.3abUTPCat 5 (Cat 5e or 6 preferred)1000 Mbps100 meters
10GBaseT802.3anUTPCat 6A10 Gbps100 meters
100BaseT4802.3uUTPCat 3100 Mbps100 meters
1000BaseLX802.3zMMF or SMFN/A1000 Mbps550 meters over MMF, 5 km over SMF
1000BaseSX802.3zMMFN/A1000 Mbps550 meters
1000BaseCX802.3zTwinaxN/A1000 Mbps25 meters
10GBaseSR 10GBaseLR 10GBaseER 10GBaseSW 10GBaseLW 10GBaseEW802.3aeMMF or SMFN/A10 Gbps82 meters to 40 km
40 Gigabit Ethernet802.3baMMF, SMF,and copperN/A40 Gbps40 km over SMF, 7 meters over copper
100 Gigabit Ethernet802.3bj and 802.3bmMMF, SMFN/A100 Gbps100 km

Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat7 vs Cat8 Ethernet Cables, What Are They?

In 1973, Xerox PARC researcher Bob Metcalfe invented a high-speed networking system called Ethernet to allow computer workstations, servers, and printers to share data and resources. Today, Ethernet connects hundreds of millions of devices in homes and businesses. In this article, we explain the Ethernet cable types that form the basis of many wired networks.

Ethernet Cable

If you are buying Ethernet cable for the first time, focus on these four features, and you’ll make a good decision. Other factors are worth considering in certain circumstances, so if in doubt, read on.

  1. Speed (Data Rate): the speed of a cable refers to the amount of data it can transmit per second. 100 Mbps means the cable can transmit 100 million bits of data a second. In a commercial network, speed is usually dictated by the equipment you are connecting (for example, a network switch with Gigabit Ethernet ports). In the home, choose a cable that can support the speed of your Internet connection, plus some room for speed upgrades in the future. A cable’s Category designation (e.g., Cat5e, Cat6, etc.) is an easy way to identify the speed of a cable. See below: Category Cable Summary for more information.
  2. Shielding: some Ethernet cables are shielded to protect the cable’s conductors from electromagnetic interference (EMI) caused by power lines, large machinery and fluorescent lighting. Shielding also prevents parallel conductors inside the cable jacket from interacting with one another. See Ethernet Cable Shielding for more information.
  3. Cable Length: The maximum length of an Ethernet cable is about 295 feet (89.92 m). Good quality cables with shielding and thicker conductors can reach further, but some trial and error will be required. Keep in mind that cable runs are rarely straight, so plan on extra cable for some twists and turns. See Ethernet Cable Length for more information.
  4. Installation Location: cable jackets are rated for fire safety. If you plan on running cable through walls or between floors, choose rise-rated (CMR) or plenum-rated (CMP) cable. See Jacket Ratings for more information.

Ethernet Cable Categories

The “Cat” in Cat5e, Cat6, etc. is short for “Category.” Network cables are divided into categories based mainly on bandwidth (measured in MHz), maximum data rate (measured in megabits per second) and shielding.


For a time, this unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable was the most common form of wiring for voice telephone systems in homes and offices. It consisted of two insulated copper wires twisted around each other and was designed for analog voice communications.


Category 2 cabling was capable of voice and data communications and was primarily used during the 1980s for IBM Token Ring networks. It supported a data transmission rate of 4 Mbps.


Introduced in the early 1990s, Category 3 cabling had four twisted pairs and was the first to support 10BaseT Ethernet networks as well as digital voice communications. It is still found in older buildings, but its 10 Mbps data rate is considered too slow for modern networking.


Like Cat3, Category 4 cable is typically found in older buildings where the cost of complete replacement is prohibitive. It had a data rate of 16 Mbps and was primarily used for IBM Token Ring networks.


Introduced in 1995, Category 5 cable has a data rate of up to 100 Mbps. It is used for standard 10BaseT and 100BaseT (Fast Ethernet) networks, and can distribute data, video and telephone signals at distances up to 100 meters (328.08 ft.). Cat5e is not an official designation, but is used by manufacturers to describe an enhanced Cat5 cable that is capable of speeds up to 1 Gbps. Its higher data rate is achieved by increasing the number of twists, making it more resistant to crosstalk. Cat5e is recommended for new sub-Gigabit network installations.


In comparison to Cat5e, Cat6 cable provides greater bandwidth and data transfer rates up to 1 Gbps over 100 m, the same as Cat5e. However, at shorter distances of up to 37 m (121.39 ft.), Cat6 is able to achieve 10 Gbps speeds thanks to its improved shielding and higher bandwidth. Cat6 includes a physical separator called a “spline” between the four pairs to reduce crosstalk and foil shielding to reduce electromagnetic interference. Cat6 cabling is backward compatible with the Cat5/5e standard. Introduced in 2009, Cat6a is an “augmented” Category 6 cable with a bandwidth of up to 500MHz.


The Cat7 specification is a proprietary standard developed by a consortium of companies and is not endorsed by IEEE or TIA/EIA. While substantially similar to the performance characteristics of Cat6a, Cat7 cables features proprietary GG45 connectors and robust shielding. Cat7a (Category 7 Augmented) is a further refinement of Cat7, capable of 40 Gigabit speeds over 50 meters and 100 Gbps up to 15 meters. The proprietary nature of the Cat7 and Cat7a standards and lack of support from IEEE and EIA has resulted in a relatively small installed based for Cat7/Cat7a.


With a bandwidth of up to 2 GHz (2000 MHz) over 30 meters and a data rate of up to 40Gbs, Cat8 cable is ideal for switch-to-switch communications in a 25GBase T or 40GBase T network. Its conductors are wrapped in foil to virtually eliminate crosstalk and enable higher data rates. The result is a heavier gauge cable that is quite rigid and can be difficult to install in tight spaces. It still uses RJ45 connectors and is backwards compatible with previous standards.

CategoryMax. Data Rate.BandwidthMax. DistanceUsage
Category 11 Mbps0.4 MHz Telephone and modem lines
Category 24 Mbps4 MHz Local Talk & Telephone
Category 310 Mbps16 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)10BaseT Ethernet
Category 416 Mbps20 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)Token Ring
Category 5100 Mbps100 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)100BaseT Ethernet
Category 5e1 Gbps100 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)100BaseT Ethernet, residential homes
Category 61 Gbps250 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)
10Gb at 37 m (121.39 ft.)
Gigabit Ethernet, commercial buildings
Category 6a10 Gbps500 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)Gigabit Ethernet in data centers and commercial buildings
Category 710 Gbps600 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)10 Gbps Core Infrastructure
Category 7a10 Gbps1000 MHz100 m (328.08 ft.)
40Gb at 50 m (164.04 ft.)
10 Gbps Core Infrastructure
Category 825 Gbps (Cat8.1)
40 Gbps (Cat8.2)
2000 MHz30 m (98.43 ft.)25 Gbps/40 Gbps Core Infrastructure

Shielding Type of Ethernet Cables Plus Their Applications

UTP-FTP STP SFTP CABLEBefore knowing the shielding type of Ethernet cables, it is suggested to be familiar with the shielding code in advance.

“TP” stands for “Twisted Pair”

“U” stands for “Unshielded or Unscreened”

“F” stands for “Foil Shielding”

“S” stands for “Braided Shielding”

“A” stands for “Armour”

The shielding type of Ethernet cables and their applications are as follows:

Shielding TypeApplications
STPSuitable for high-speed network and high security transmission.
SFTPThe low attenuation of internal signal making it nice for special environment of professional wiring.
UTPSuited for network applications with transmission bandwidth less than 250MHz and no special performance requirements.
FTPDesigned to provide the assembly with greater protection from crosstalk from adjacent pairs and other cables, RFI and EMI.
ASTPPerfect opt for preventing rodent damage, also nice for explosion-proof wiring system.

This website is using cookies to improve the user-friendliness. You agree by using the website further.

Privacy policy