Category 4 cabling

Category 4 cabling is a level 4 grade of unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling.

What is Category 4 cabling?

The second-highest 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.

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 5 cabling or enhanced category 5 cabling.

NOTE

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.

Category 4 Cabling Characteristics

Characteristic Value at 10 MHz Value at 20 MHz
Attenuation
20 decibels/1000 feet
31 decibels/1000 feet
NEXT
41 decibels/1000 feet
36 decibels/1000 feet
Resistance
28.6 ohms/1000 feet
28.6 ohms/1000 feet
Impedance
100 ohms (± 15%)
100 ohms (± 15%)
Capacitance
18 pF/feet
18 pF/feet