Ethernet Cable: A Guideline to Implementing Solid or Stranded Cables

With businesses becoming increasingly more
communication-centric, virtually every industry
is now relying on industrial Ethernet technology
to network critical devices and control systems
as well as to enhance process automation and
improve efficiency. As one of the most widely
used networking technologies, Ethernet connects
more than 85 percent of LAN connected PCs
and workstations, providing a flexible solution
that delivers real-time data and status updates
to ensure constant information accessibility and
instantaneous data transfer.

In order to utilize these communication capabilities,
Ethernet cables are required to provide the
necessary connectivity. These cables are used to
connect devices, such as PC, switches and routers, to
transmit and receive data. To ensure proper cabling
installation, organizations such as the American
National Standards Institute, Telecommunications
Industry Association and Electronic Industries
Association provide clear, concise instructions and
standards that assist users in setting up reliable
Ethernet connections.
Along with understanding the correct regulations,
selecting the appropriate cable for an application
is equally important. Identifying the various cable
categories, classes and types and their distinctions
is critical, as cables are separated into distinct
categories, such as 5, 5e and 6, classes like C, D,
E and F and are defined as solid or stranded. By
recognizing these classifications, as well as the
uses and purposes for stranded and solid cables,
users can select the ideal cable to meet their
application requirements.


The Telecommunications Industry Association
(TIA) and Electronic Industries Association (EIA)
were developed to describe uniform wiring system
requirements. These standards provide useful
guidelines for implementing cabling systems
in networking applications. Outlining how to
design, build and manage cabling systems, these
standards are designed to direct users through
creating a uniform cabling system. By providing
user-friendly instruction, as well as topology,
connection points, termination points and media
definitions, users can wire a building without prior
knowledge or special skill.

ANSI/TIA-568, a family of telecommunication
standards, provide the requirements for twistedpair, optical fiber and coaxial cabling, with
the purpose of establishing performance and
technical criteria for cabling system configurations
to access and connect components. To attain
this goal and aid users in creating reliable
networking connections, these standards define
transmission and mechanical requirements,
electromagnetic compatibility for cabling,
installation procedures, connector termination
techniques and field testing.

Performance Testing
In order to ensure cable connections are
properly made, ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-C.2 provides
performance testing guidelines that must be
done on cables prior to use to ensure the cabling
system will operate as expected. Generally, testing
is a two-phase process, consisting of an opens test
and a shorts test. In the first phase (opens test),

a cable tester is used to verify all the intended
connections exist and are good. The second phase
(shorts test) is performed in order to ensure there
are no unintended connections. Unintended
connections can either indicate a short circuit,
which is when the connection is short, or signify
miswiring, which occurs when a connection goes
to the wrong place.

Bend Radius
Cabling standards also outline the appropriate
bend radius for each cable. Bend radius is the
minimum extent a cable can be bent without
kinking, suffering damaging or shortening
the cable’s life span. The minimum bend
radius is five times the cable diameter for
stationary cables and 10 times for moving/flex
cables. When cabling is bent beyond this predetermined minimum bend radius, it can cause
transmission failures. All pathways must maintain
the minimum bend radius wherever the cable
makes a bend.


Common cabling types used for Ethernet
connections are twisted-pair cables, which can
improve the signal quality and cable flexibility.
There are several different categories and classes
of cable to indicate their specific performance
parameters. These include Category 5, 5e, 6 and 7,
and each encompasses a different type of twisted
pair cable that has unique properties which define
how much signal it can carry and transmission
limitations. This white paper primarily focuses on
Category 5 and 6 cables.

According to the ANSI/TIA/EIA standard for
category 5e copper cable, the maximum length
for a cable segment is 100 meters (or 328 feet).
Category 5e cable is capable of transmitting
data at speeds of up to 1000 Mbps—1 Gigabit
per second. The specifications for 10BASE-T
networking specify a 100-meter length between
active devices. This allows for 90 meters of fixed
cabling, two connectors and two patch leads of 5
meters, one at each end.

Category 6 cable was designed to perform at
frequencies of up to 250 MHz and offers higher
performance for better transmission of data at
speeds up to 1000 Mbps, with fewer errors for
100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T applications. For
additional data transfer requirements, some
Category 6 cables can support 10 Gigabit speeds,
however, they may suffer length limitations.
Category 6 cabling, with its larger conductors,
internal dividers, and tighter twist lengths would
be analogous to a high-end model, delivering
better performance and more capacity.