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Ethernet over twisted pair

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Title: Ethernet over twisted pair  
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Subject: Ethernet, Modular connector, 10BASE2, Category 5 cable, 10BASE5
Collection: Ethernet Cables, Local Loop, Physical Layer Protocols
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Ethernet over twisted pair

8P8C plug

Ethernet over twisted pair technologies use twisted-pair cables for the physical layer of an Ethernet computer network.

Early Ethernet cabling had generally been based on various grades of coaxial cable, but in 1984, StarLAN showed the potential of simple unshielded twisted pair by using Cat3 cable—the same simple cable used for telephone systems. This led to the development of 10BASE-T and its successors 100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T, supporting speeds of 10, 100 and 1000 Mbit/s respectively. Often the higher-speed implementations support the lower-speed standards making it possible to mix different generations of equipment; with the inclusive capability designated 10/100 or 10/100/1000 for connections that support such combinations.[1]:123 All these three standards support both full-duplex and half-duplex communication.

The higher speed 10GBASE-T running at 10 Gbit/s, is different in that it defines only full duplex point-to-point links which are generally connected by network switches, and doesn't support the traditional shared-medium CSMA/CD operation.[2]

All these standards use 8P8C connectors,[note 1] and the cables from Cat3 to Cat7 have four pairs of wires; though 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX only require two of the pairs.

A 40GBASE-T standard, transporting 40 Gbit/s over up to 30 m Cat.8 cable is being defined as P802.3bq.[3]


  • History 1
  • Naming 2
  • Cabling 3
    • Shared cable 3.1
  • Autonegotiation and duplex mismatch 4
  • Variants 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards association ratified several versions of the technology. The first two early designs were StarLAN, standardized in 1986, at one megabit per second,[4] and LattisNet, developed in January 1987, at 10 megabit per second.[5][6] Both were developed before the 10BASE-T standard (published in 1990 as IEEE 802.3i), and both were not compatible with it.[7]

Using twisted pair cabling, in a star topology, for Ethernet addressed several weaknesses of the previous standards:

  • Twisted pair cables could be used more generally and were already present in many office buildings, lowering overall cost.
  • The centralized star topology was a more common approach to cabling than the bus in earlier standards and easier to manage.
  • Using point-to-point links instead of a shared bus greatly simplified troubleshooting and was less prone to failure.
  • Exchanging cheap repeater hubs for more advanced switching hubs provided a viable upgrade path.
  • Mixing different speeds in a single network became possible with the arrival of Fast Ethernet.


The common names for the standards derive from aspects of the physical media. The leading number (10 in 10BASE-T) refers to the transmission speed in Mbit/s. BASE denotes that baseband transmission is used. The T designates twisted pair cable, where the pair of wires for each signal is twisted together to reduce radio frequency interference and crosstalk between pairs. Where there are several standards for the same transmission speed, they are distinguished by a letter or digit following the T, such as TX.


8P8C modular plug pin positioning
TIA/EIA-568 T568A termination
Pin Pair Wire Color
1 3 tip Pair 3 Wire 1 white/green
2 3 ring Pair 3 Wire 2 green
3 2 tip Pair 2 Wire 1 white/orange
4 1 ring Pair 1 Wire 2 blue
5 1 tip Pair 1 Wire 1 white/blue
6 2 ring Pair 2 Wire 2 orange
7 4 tip Pair 4 Wire 1 white/brown
8 4 ring Pair 4 Wire 2 brown
TIA/EIA-568 T568B termination
Pin Pair Wire Color
1 2 tip Pair 2 Wire 1 white/orange
2 2 ring Pair 2 Wire 2 orange
3 3 tip Pair 3 Wire 1 white/green
4 1 ring Pair 1 Wire 2 blue
5 1 tip Pair 1 Wire 1 white/blue
6 3 ring Pair 3 Wire 2 green
7 4 tip Pair 4 Wire 1 white/brown
8 4 ring Pair 4 Wire 2 brown

Twisted-pair Ethernet standards are such that the majority of cables can be wired "straight-through" (pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2 and so on), but others may need to be wired in the "crossover" form (receive to transmit and transmit to receive).

It is conventional to wire cables for 10- or 100-Mbit/s Ethernet to either the T568A or T568B standards. Since these standards differ only in that they swap the positions of the two pairs used for transmitting and receiving (TX/RX), a cable with T568A wiring at one end and T568B wiring at the other is referred to as a crossover cable. The terms used in the explanations of the 568 standards, tip and ring, refer to older communication technologies, and equate to the positive and negative parts of the connections.

A 10BASE-T or 100BASE-TX node such as a PC, with a connector called medium dependent interfaces (MDI), transmits on pin 1 and 2 and receives on pin 3 and 6 to a network device using a "straight-through" cable. In order for two network devices or two nodes to communicate with each other (such as a switch to another switch or computer to computer) a crossover cable is often required at speeds of 10 or 100 Mbit/s. If available, connections can be made with a straight-through cable by means of an MDI-X port, also known as an "internal crossover" or "embedded crossover" connection. Hub and switch ports with such internal crossovers are usually labelled as such, with "uplink" or "X". For example, 3Com usually labels their ports 1X, 2X, and so on. In some cases a button is provided to allow a port to act as either a normal or an uplink port.

Many modern Ethernet host adapters can automatically detect another computer connected with a straight-through cable and then automatically introduce the required crossover, if needed; if neither of the adapters has this capability, then a crossover cable is required. Most newer switches have automatic crossover ("auto MDI-X" or "auto-uplink") on all ports, eliminating the uplink port and the MDI/MDI-X switch, and allowing all connections to be made with straight-through cables. If both devices being connected support 1000BASE-T according to the standards, they will connect regardless of the cable being used or how it is wired.

A 10BASE-T transmitter sends two differential voltages, +2.5 V or −2.5 V.

100BASE-TX follows the same wiring patterns as 10BASE-T, but is more sensitive to wire quality and length, due to the higher bit rates.

A 100BASE-TX transmitter sends three differential voltages, +1 V, 0 V, or −1 V.[8]

1000BASE-T uses all four pairs bi-directionally and the standard includes auto MDI-X; however, implementation is optional. With the way that 1000BASE-T implements signaling, how the cable is wired is immaterial in actual usage. The standard on copper twisted pair is IEEE 802.3ab for Cat 5e UTP, or 4D-PAM5; four dimensions using PAM (pulse amplitude modulation) with five voltages, −2 V, −1 V, 0 V, +1 V, and +2 V[9] While +2 V to −2 V voltage may appear at the pins of the line driver, the voltage on the cable is nominally +1 V, +0.5 V, 0 V, −0.5 V and −1 V.[10]

100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T were both designed to require a minimum of Category 5 cable and also specify a maximum cable length of 100 meters. Category 5 cable has since been deprecated and new installations use Category 5e.

Unlike earlier Ethernet standards using broadband and coaxial cable, such as 10BASE5 (thicknet) and 10BASE2 (thinnet), 10BASE-T does not specify the exact type of wiring to be used, but instead specifies certain characteristics that a cable must meet. This was done in anticipation of using 10BASE-T in existing twisted-pair wiring systems that may not conform to any specified wiring standard. Some of the specified characteristics are attenuation, characteristic impedance, timing jitter, propagation delay, and several types of noise. Cable testers are widely available to check these parameters to determine if a cable can be used with 10BASE-T. These characteristics are expected to be met by 100 meters of 24-gauge unshielded twisted-pair cable. However, with high quality cabling, cable runs of 150 meters or longer are often obtained and are considered viable by most technicians familiar with the 10BASE-T specification.

Shared cable

10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX only require two pairs (pins 1-2, 3-6) to operate. Since Category 5 cable has four pairs, it is possible, but not necessarily standards compliant, to use the spare pairs (pins 4–5, 7–8) in 10- and 100-Mbit/s configurations. The spare pairs may be used for Power over Ethernet (PoE); or two phone lines; or a second 10BASE-T or 100BASE-TX connection. In practice, great care must be taken to separate these pairs as most 10/100-Mbit/s hubs, switches, and PCs electrically terminate the unused pins. Moreover, 1000BASE-T requires all four pairs to operate.

Autonegotiation and duplex mismatch

Many different modes of operations (10BASE-T half duplex, 10BASE-T full duplex, 100BASE-TX half duplex, ...) exist for Ethernet over twisted pair, and most network adapters are capable of different modes of operation. 1000BASE-T requires autonegotiation to be on in order to operate.

When two linked interfaces are set to different duplex modes, the effect of this duplex mismatch is a network that functions much more slowly than its nominal speed. Duplex mismatch may be inadvertently caused when an administrator configures an interface to a fixed mode (e.g. 100 Mbit/s full duplex) and fails to configure the remote interface, leaving it set to autonegotiate. Then, when the autonegotiation process fails, half duplex is assumed by the autonegotiating side of the link.


Speed [Mbit/s] Distance [m] Name Standard
/ Year
1 100
StarLAN 802.3e 1986[11] Runs over four wires (two twisted pairs) on telephone twisted pair or Category 3 cable. An active hub sits in the middle and has a port for each node. Manchester coded signaling.
10 100
LattisNet (pre) 802.3i 1987 Runs over AT&T Premises Distribution System (PDS) wiring or four wires (two twisted pairs) on telephone twisted pair or Category 3 cable.[5][12]
10 100
10BASE-T 802.3i 1990 Runs over four wires (two twisted pairs) on a Category 3 or Category 5 cable. Star topology with an active hub or switch sits in the middle and has a port for each node. This is also the configuration used for 100BASE-T and gigabit Ethernet. Manchester coded signaling.
100 100 100BASE-TX 802.3u 1995 4B5B MLT-3 coded signaling, Category 5 cable copper cabling with two twisted pairs.
1000 100 1000BASE‑T 802.3ab 1999 PAM-5 coded signaling. At least Category 5 cable with four twisted pairs copper cabling. Category 5 cable has since been deprecated and new installations use Category 5e. Each pair is used in both directions simultaneously.
10 000 100 10GBASE‑T 802.3an 2006 THP PAM-16 coding. Uses category 6a cable.
40 000 ≥30 40GBASE-T 802.3bq[3] under development, uses encoding from 10GBASE-T on proposed Cat 8.1/8.2 shielded cable

See also


  1. ^ The 8P8C modular connector is often called RJ45 after a telephone industry standard.


  1. ^ Charles E. Spurgeon (2000). Ethernet: the definitive guide. OReilly Media.  
  2. ^ Michael Palmer. Hands-On Networking Fundamentals, 2nd ed.. Cengage Learning. p. 180.  
  3. ^ a b "IEEE P802.3bq 40GBASE-T Task Force". IEEE 802.3. 
  4. ^ Urs von Burg (2001). The triumph of Ethernet: technological communities and the battle for the LAN standard. Stanford University Press. pp. 175–176, 255–256.  
  5. ^ a b Paula Musich (August 3, 1987). "User lauds SynOptic system: LattisNet a success on PDS". Network World 4 (31). pp. 2, 39. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ W.C. Wise, Ph.D. (March 1989). "Yesterday, somebody asked me what I think about LattisNet. Here's what I told him in a nutshell". CIO Magazine 2 (6). p. 13. Retrieved June 11, 2011.  (Advertisement)
  7. ^ Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide. Fluke Networks. 2002. p. B-4.  
  8. ^ David A. Weston (2001). Electromagnetic Compatibility: principles and applications. CRC Press. pp. 240–242.  
  9. ^ Steve Prior. "1000BASE-T Duffer's Guide to Basics and Startup". Retrieved 2011-02-18. 
  10. ^ Nick van Bavel, Phil Callahan and John Chiang (2004-10-25). "Voltage-mode line drivers save on power". Retrieved 2011-02-18. 
  11. ^ 802.3a,b,c, and e-1988 IEEE Standards for Local Area Networks: Supplements to Carrier Sense Multiple Access With Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications.  
  12. ^ Eric Killorin (November 2, 1987). "LattisNet makes the grade in Novell benchmark tests" 4 (44). Network World. p. 19. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ IEEE Computer Society (2008-12-26), IEEE Std 802.3-2008 : Twisted-pair media, IEEE 

Further reading

  • IEEE 802.3 standards documents

External links

  • How to Make a Network Cable, a how-to article from wikiHow
  • How to create your own Ethernet Cables
  • How to wire a 10Base-T or 100Base-T connector with category 5 cable and 8P8C modular connectors
  • Step by step instructions on how to punch down category 5e cable to a RJ45
  • How to make a crossover patch cable using Cat5e or Cat6 and RJ45
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