Category 4 Cabling (Cat 4)

Cat 4 or Category 4 Cabling is the fourth-lowest grade of unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling. Category 4 cabling was designed to support digital voice and data communication at speeds up to 16 Mbps.

Category 4 Cabling
Category 4 Cabling

It uses 22-gauge or 24-gauge copper wires in a configuration of four twisted-pairs enclosed in a protective insulating sheath. Category 4 cabling can support standard 10BaseT types of Ethernet networks. It was also commonly used in older 16-Mbps Token Ring installations.

Category 4 cabling still has an installed base in older buildings where it is often cheaper to use the existing cabling than to upgrade to newer grades. Installing higher-grade cabling for backbone cabling in vertical rises and elevator shafts can extend the life of work areas that still use category 4 cabling. However, if greater speeds are required at users’ workstations, the best solution is to rewire the work areas using category 6 cabling.

Category 4 Cabling Characteristics

The following table summarizes the electrical characteristics of category 4 cabling at different frequencies, which correspond to different data transmission speeds. Note that attenuation increases with frequency, while near-end crosstalk (NEXT) decreases.

CharacteristicValue at 10 MHzValue at 20 MHz
Attenuation20 decibels/1000 feet31 decibels/1000 feet
NEXT41 decibels/1000 feet36 decibels/1000 feet
Resistance28.6 ohms/1000 feet28.6 ohms/1000 feet
Impedance100 ohms (± 15%)100 ohms (± 15%)
Capacitance18 pF/feet18 pF/feet

Source: ANSI-TIA-EIA 568-B – Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard


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