Category Cable Information


Category cables commonly refer to 100 Ohm twisted pair Ethernet cables. These cables are also known as: LAN (Local Area Network), data, and networking cables. The term "category" defines the type, application, and electrical performance of the cable. CATx is an abbreviation for the category number that defines the performance of building telecommunications cabling as outlined by the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) standards.

Category Cable Types

The most common cable Category cables on the market today are indicated in the chart below:

Name Common Types Bandwidth Standard Applications Standard


UTP Up to 16 MHz 10BASE-T and 100BASE-T4 Ethernet Now mainly for telephone cables. ISO/IEC 11801 Ed2 Class C. TIA/EIA 568-C.2


UTP, F/UTP Up to 100 MHz 100BASE-TX & 1000BASE-T Ethernet Enhanced Cat5. ISO/IEC Class D. TIA/EIA 568-C.2


UTP, F/UTP Up to 250 MHz 1000BASE-T Ethernet ISO/IEC 11801 Ed2 Class E. TIA/EIA 568-C.2
CAT6E UTP, F/UTP Up to 250 MHz (500 MHz for some) Same as Cat6 Not a standard. Used by some cable manufacturers as a sales tool.


UTP, F/UTP Up to 500 MHz Augmented Cat6. 10GBASE-T Ethernet ISO/IEC 11801 Ed2 Class Ea. TIA/EIA 568-C.2.
CAT7 S/FTP Up to 600 MHz Telephone, CCTV, 1000BASE-TX in the same cable. 10GBASE-T Ethernet. ISO/IEC 11801 Ed2 Class F. No TIA/EIA classification at this time.


S/FTP Up to 1000 MHz Augmented Cat7. Telephone, CATV, 1000BASE-TX in the same cable. 10GBASE-T Ethernet. ISO/IEC 11801 Ed2 Class Fa. No TIA/EIA classification at this time.

Category Cable Shielding Types

There are basically two types of Category cable mechanical construction: Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and Shielded Twisted Pair (STP).

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables are the most common type of Category cable. A typical Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7 cable is comprised of 8 conductors that are twisted into 4 sets of pairs. Each bare copper conductor is insulated and color coded. Each bundle of Category cable twisted pairs is bundled under an overall jacket such as PVC. Each twisted pair of cable has a different twist rate in order to minimize crosstalk within the cable.

UTP cable construction is the most common construction on the market because it is less expenseive than shielded cables and is easier to install. SCP offers UTP for Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6A.

Shielded Category/Ethernet Cables

Twisted pair cables are often shielded to prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI) from affecting the performance of the cable. The shielding protects EMI and RFI from entering or exiting the cable. There are commonly two types of shielding used on Category Cables: Foil Shield and Braided Shield.

A foil shield consists of an Aluminum foil that is wrapped around all of the twisted pairs as an "overall foil shield" or it may be used around each individual pair of wires as "each pair shielded".

A braid shield commonly refers to a "tinned copper braid" as an overall shield for all of the twisted pairs in the cable.

All shielded Category cables have a special grounding wire added called a drain wire. The shielding must be grounded for the shielding to work. Typically the drain wire is placed alongside the foil shield.


Category Cable Shielding Acronyms

The acronyms used to describe the cable shielding have changed over the last several years in order to avoid confusion of the different types of shielding found on Category cables today. The mechanical construction of the Category cables shielding is identified by specific abbreviations. These abbreviations or acronyms were established by the ISO/IEC 11801 standard and adopted by TIA/EIA.

The standard abbreviations are as follows:

  • TP = Twisted Pair
  • U   = Unshielded
  • F   = Foil Shield
  • S   = Braided Shield

Example: F/UTP

  • (F) Describes the overall shielding type
  • (U) Describes the shielding of the pairs
  • (TP): Describes the Twisted Pairs The code before the slash describes the overall shielding. The second letter after the slash describes the shielding of the individual pairs.

Category Shielding Acronym Designations

Acronym Description Cable Shielding Pair Shielding
UTP or U/UTP Unshielded Twisted Pair None None
F/UTP Overall Foil Shield AL Foil None
U/FTP Each Pair Shielded None AL Foil
S/FTP Each Pair Shielded + Overall Braid Shield TC Braid AL Foil
SF/UTP Overall Foil Shield + Overall Braid Shield AL Foil + TC Braid None
F/FTP Overall Foil Shield + Each Pair Shielded AL Foil AL Foil