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31 Days Before Your CCNA Exam: Connecting Switches and Ethernet Technology

UTP Cabling

The three most common Ethernet standards used today—10BASE-T (Ethernet), 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet, or FE), and 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet, or GE)—use UTP cabling. Some key differences exist, particularly with the number of wire pairs needed in each case and in the type (category) of cabling.

The UTP cabling used by popular Ethernet standards include either two or four pairs of wires. The cable ends typically use an RJ-45 connector. The RJ-45 connector has eight specific physical locations into which the eight wires in the cable can be inserted, called pin positions or, simply, pins.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA) define standards for UTP cabling, color coding for wires, and standard pinouts on the cables. Figure 28-4 shows two TIA/EIA pinout standards, with the color coding and pair numbers listed.

Figure 28-4

Figure 28-4 TIA/EIA Standard Ethernet Cabling Pinouts

For the exam, you should be well prepared to choose which type of cable (straight-through or crossover) is needed in each part of the network. In short, devices on opposite ends of a cable that use the same pair of pins to transmit need a crossover cable. Devices that use an opposite pair of pins to transmit need a straight-through cable. Table 28-2 lists typical devices and the pin pairs they use, assuming that they use 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX.

Table 28-2. 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX Pin Pairs Used

Devices That Transmit on 1,2 and Receive on 3,6

Devices That Transmit on 3,6 and Receive on 1,2





Wireless Access Point (Ethernet interface)


Networked printers (printers that connect directly to the LAN)


1000BASE-T requires four wire pairs because Gigabit Ethernet transmits and receives on each of the four wire pairs simultaneously.

However, Gigabit Ethernet does have a concept of straight-through and crossover cables, with a minor difference in the crossover cables. The pinouts for a straight-through cable are the same—pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, and so on. The crossover cable crosses the same two-wire pair as the crossover cable for the other types of Ethernet—the pair at pins 1,2 and 3,6—as well as crossing the two other pairs (the pair at pins 4,5 with the pair at pins 7,8).

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