UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cables are widely used in most networks of the computer and telecommunications industry, as Ethernet cables or telephone wires. This tutorial aims to describe the knowledge of UTP cabling.
UTP Cables & Cabling Characteristics
The quality of UTP cables varies from telephone-grade wire to extremely high-speed cable. Most UTP cables used in structured cabling systems today are comprised of carefully twisted pairs of solid copper wire inside the insulated jacket, providing high bandwidth, low attenuation and crosstalk. Several categories of UTP cables are now available in the market. Among them, categories 5e and 6 UTP cables are the most popular types of UTP cabling in today’s networks.
For UTP cabling, there are some characteristics, as shown in the following table.
|Maximum Cable Length||100 meters|
|Bandwidth||Up to 1000 Mbps|
|Bend Radius||Minimum four times the cable diameter or 1 inch|
|Installation & Maintenance||Easy to install, no need to reroute, the most flexible|
|Cost||Least expensive of all cabling options|
|Connector types||RJ45 plug, RJ45 jack, and patch panels|
|Security||Moderately susceptible to eavesdropping|
|Signaling Rates||100 MHz for Cat5e, 250 MHz for Cat6|
UTP in Structured Cabling
There are six subsystems of a structured cabling system, including Entrance facilities, backbone cabling, equipment rooms, telecommunication closets, horizontal cabling and work area. Elements of (UTP) structured cabling usually consist of UTP cables, UTP patch panels, UTP wall outlets, adapters, other cable management panels, and so on. The following picture shows us the example of cat5e applications within LAN/WAN network (main computer room & work area).
In the main computer room, patch cables are used to connect comms equipment to printers etc. and interconnect network switch and patch panel. The length of which can vary between 1 and 5 meters and is available in a variety of different colors for identification purposes.
In addition to UTP wiring, a voice patch panel is connected to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) exchange, using a multi-core CW1308 telephone cable.
While in the working area (office), the cat5e cable is terminated with RJ45 module and connects through UTP outlet. Then the terminal equipment, such as network printer, photocopier, network I.P telephone and office PC can connect the line via outlet.
Install UTP Cabling
UTP cabling can be deployed in many places, such as under floors, above ceilings in cable trays, inside conduit, inside walls, and even inside special cable trays in modular furniture.
The key step of UTP cabling installation is the cable termination, namely putting RJ45 plugs on the ends of cable or punching down wires into terminal blocks on a jack or patch panel. The installer must be acquainted with the Connector Manufacturer’s installation instructions. In addition, testing is required during installation.
Correct tools are required for UTP installation, helping installers to achieve the UTP cabling installation efficiently. The most commonly used tools include wire cutter, crimping tool, cable tester, punch down tool, cable stripper, RJ45 plugs/jacks and so on.
UTP cables are considered as a cost-effective cabling medium option for many network nodes connection applications, thanks to its benefits of lightweight, thin and flexible, as well as versatile, reliable and inexpensive. Used as a part of a well-engineered structured cabling system, they offer the flexible performance for the network systems in a commercial manner. For UTP cabling installation, choosing the right and high-quality components and tools is necessary to ensure the reliability.