Residential Telecommunications


This page contains information for readers interested in residential data and voice cabling.

Note: The information presented here is for illustrative purposes only. Use it at your own risk. Read and understand the Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions of Use pages before proceeding.

Cable Types

Here are some pictures of the various cable types discussed in this topic and other topics in this section.

Category 5e
4 Pair Cable

Flat Telephone Cable
(aka "tinsel")

Quad Cable

Station Wire

Station wire is the cabling that connects voice and data outlet jacks to the distribution device. A variety of cable types are available for residential station wiring but I eventually settled on Category 5e 4-pair cable. Leviton's Installation Manual for Residential Structured Wiring - Version 3.0 gives some good advice on the subject.

"The TIA/EIA Standard 570-B proposes different grades of residential cabling depending on the services the cable will be providing within a residence. There are two grades:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2

Grade 1 meets the minimum requirements for telecommunication services. It can support telephone, CATV, and low speed data applications. These minimum requirements are a four-pair 100 ohm UTP that meet or exceed Category 3 transmission requirements and 75 ohm coaxial cables.

Grade 2 meets all of Grade 1 requirements as well as multimedia applications and fiber optic wiring. The minimum cable requirements for each cabled location are two four-pair 100 ohm UTP cables that meet or exceed Category 5e cable and two 75 ohm coaxial cables. Two strand 62.5/125 mm optical cable is an optional cable for Grade 2 installations."

Installer's Tip: Leviton strongly suggests that you use nothing less than Grade 2 infrastructure, Category (at a minimum) 5e cable for your structured voice/data cable work, ..."

Older installations (like the wiring I inherited with my home) may use Quad cable (aka POTS cable) or even runs of unjacketed 24 guage wire. I ended up ripping all this cable out and replacing it with Category 5e cable.

Note that Safety/electrical/building codes may call for "riser rated" cable when cables run between floors and "plenum rated" cable when wiring runs through spaces used by HVAC systems.

Patch Cables

This table shows how some common voice and data patch cables are configured.

Use Connects This ... ... To This Cable Type Connector Uses This Standard on One End ... ... and This Standard on the Other End Notes


  1. 8P8C connectors come in different varieties based on the type of cable they are intended for -- braided, solid, or both. Be sure to match the connector type to the cable type. Solid conductors can transmit faster than braided (see Is there any benefit to using CAT 5e solid conductor cable?).
Ethernet Patch Cable
(straight through)

10BaseT or 100BaseT
Computer Ethernet Jack,
Ethernet Equipment
Category 5e
Category 6
8P8C1 T568A T568A

Either T568A or T568B can be used, but both ends must use the same standard.

T568B T568B
Ethernet Crossover Cable

10BaseT or 100BaseT
Computer Computer Category 5e
Category 6
8P8C1 T568A T568B
Telephone Line Cable
One or Two Line Telephone Equipment Phone Jack Flat Telephone Cable 6P4C End 1 End 2

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