Glossary of Terms



110 is a type of IDC connection that is older than Krone, and more cost saving. It is a standard for telephony connections.


The Boot and Protector are a one piece structure that comes separately or built into a patch cord. The boot protects the end of the cable from excessive bending and breakage. The protector protects the plastic plug clip from breaking off.


CAT3, CAT5E, CAT6, CAT6A are all Category Cables. These are copper computer networking cables that handle anything from telephone grade signals to gigabit ethernet signals. These cables typically contain 2+ twisted wire pairs. The wires are twisted because this helps cancel out electromagnetic interference (EMI). The CATs come Shielded (STP) or Unshielded (UTP). The shield is usually an Aluminum Foil that protects from EMI. The jackets can have various levels of fire resistance, and can also be outdoor rated.


Copper Clad Aluminum or aluminum covered with copper. Braid shielding that is made from CCA is a less costly alternative to copper braiding. CCA braids effectively protect RG6 and RG11 signals from EMI. However, this type of braid is not effective for protecting RG59s, which carry very low frequency signals below 50 MHz. Only pure copper braids are used for RG59.


Copper Clad Steel or steel covered with copper. Copper is considered a more superior conductor, but steel is a more cost effective conductor. Current tends to travel along the surface of the cable, therefore the copper is delegated to the outer circumference of the cable. The five best conductors, starting from the best are the following: (1) Silver, (2) Copper, (3) Gold, (4) Aluminum (5) Iron.

CL2, CL3

Both CL2 and CL3 are types of multi-purpose wire used for security systems, speaker wire, intercom systems, nurse call buttons, and more. The difference between the two is that CL2 is rated for up to 150 volts while CL3 is rated for up to 300 volts. CL3 offers more protection against electric shock because it is rated to carry more voltage.


Coaxial Cable is called so because of its concentric design. The cable is meant to carry lower frequency signals such as audio/radio and video. Copper, stranded copper or copper clad steel (CCS) is used for the conductor. Next the dielectric is a non-conducting material that keeps a space between the conductor and the shield. Next come numerous shields which contain the cable’s magnetic field, and shield the cable from foreign Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). The more shields, the better the EMI blockage, the better quality signal. The jacket is typically PVC. However, if it needs to be used outdoors to block out water, UV light and corrosion, a special outdoor jacket is used. A thin layer of gel is injected under the jacket to make the cable block out any moisture. Larger diameter/gauge cables can go for longer runs, and allow for better signal delivery over longer distances.


To crimp is to connect a plug/connector to the end of a cable. For example, crimping tools are used to crimp a 4, 6 or 8 pin plugs to Category cable. When the tool is squeezed, the plastic connector punctures and holds down each wire to prevent it from falling out of the plug. Most crimping tools have a handy wire cutter built in near the handles, which helps align the wires before inserting them into the connector. A different crimping tool can be used to crimp a connector to a coaxial cable (RG59, RG6 or RG11).


Cable that is designated as Direct Burial has an outdoor jacket rating and is meant for direct burial applications. Outdoor jackets typically contain Polyurethane, which helps withstand erosion, dirt and water. Direct Burial cables often have gel injected under the jacket to further protect the wires from water.


Electronic Industries Alliance Unit is synonymous with U (1U, 2U, 3U etc). 1 Rack Unit is 1.750 inches long and spans 2 rack holes.


Electromagnetic Interference is caused by electrical circuits present around the cable. Excessive EMI can interfere with the cable’s signal and disrupt it. Sources of EMI include elevators, power lines, electric motors, fluorescent lights, thermostats, air conditioners and microwaves. In order to protect the integrity of the signal in high EMI environments, shielded cable is necessary. Aluminum shields typically do the job for Category, Security, and Audio Cable. Copper Braids are used together with Aluminum Foil in Coax Cables.


The ETL Listed Mark indicates to distributors, retailers and customers that your product has been tested by Intertek and found in compliance with accepted national safety standards. ETL began in 1896 when Thomas Edison founded Electrical Testing Labs. ETL is accepted in US and Canada. ETL is comparable to UL.


Power Limited Fire Alarm Plenum Cable is an Alarm cable that has a maximal fire-retardant rating. It is used in air handling spaces, which are more prone to fires.


Power Limited Fire Alarm Riser Cable is an Alarm cable that has a minimal fire-retardant rating. These cables are typically used for runs between floors and require minimal protection from the spread of fire.
Steel that is galvanized is covered with a protective layer of zinc to prevent rusting.


Gauge is the thickness of the conductor. The higher the gauge the smaller the cable, the more resistance it has, the shorter the cable run.


HDBaseT is a fairly recent networking innovation that passes HDTV, Ethernet, audio and power signals all through one LAN cable. Certified category-5E and higher cables are typically used. HDBT switches allow these cables to run up to 100 meters. As opposed to other technologies that each require their own unique cable for operation, HDBaseT runs all signals using only category cables. The HDBaseT switch has the capability to connect to up to eight devices. HDBaseT can itself be controlled via a tablet/smartphone/remote control.


Insulation Displacement Connectors are a type of wire connection that has two blades for the wire to be punched into. When you punch down the wire into an IDC, the blades cut open the insulation and cold-weld to the wire, creating an automatic pathway for current. The most popular IDC connections are 110 and Krone.


The International Organization for Standardization sets standards for worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial products. Founded in 1947, ISO is a non-governmental membership organization. ISO has published about 20,000 standards, covering most industries. Cable and connectivity products that are manufactured with an ISO Certificate conform to world-class specifications. Vertical Cable carries products that are manufactured with an ISO Certificate.


Junction Boxes are used to securely connect two cables together. These boxes also conceal the connection and deter tampering. For example, cable coming out of a wall can be extended via a Junction Box into a cubicle or another space in a room. Junction Boxes can come shielded or unshielded. The shield protects from environments with excess EMI.


IDC connections can either be 110 or Krone. Krone is easily identified because compared to 110 termination, the slots are arranged at 45° angles. Krone contacts are silver to inhibit corrosion.


Regular cable jackets are either made from polyethylene or PVC, which both give off toxic halogen smoke when exposed to high heat. LSZH jackets are made from thermoplastic and do not produce dangerous gases when they burn. LSZH cable is used in aircrafts, boats, and railway cars. LSZH cable reduces the risk of toxic fumes accumulating in poor ventilation environments and around sensitive equipment.


Media Converters are networking devices that convert a signal between two dissimilar media types, for example, twisted pair to fiber optic.


Multimode optical fiber is used for communication over short distances, such as within a building or a small campus. Data rates of 10 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s over link lengths of up to 600m (2000ft). This fiber optic cable has a thick core that allows more data to pass through at any given time. However, it has a high attenuation (or loss of signal rate), which is why it does not do well with longer distance. Multimode fiber is less costly than Singlemode fiber.


RG stands for Radio Guide. This cable has a larger diameter than the RG6. It is the thickest Coaxial Cable that can go for the longest runs and carry very high quality signal. RG11 can have a dual shield or a quad shield. Applications include audio/radio, video/home theater, and internet/computer. RG11s are typically marked in 2ft intervals because of their very long lay length.


RG59 carries low frequency signals very well because it has a 95% copper braid. RG59s use dense copper shields because aluminum shields are not good enough to protect low frequency signals below 50 MHz. Other common applications are CCTV and baseband video (analog video).


Compared to RG59, RG6 can carry very high bandwidth signals (GHz-level) and over longer distances. It is thicker, and has the proper aluminum shielding to reject radio frequency interference. Therefore RG6 is typically used for satellite applications, TV, and radio/audio signals. The standard RG6 has a dual shield to block out EMI. Quad Shields will protect the signal integrity even better.


Riser cable jackets are made for non-plenum vertical spaces between floors with no air flows. These jackets are also fire retardant to an extent; however, not up to the same level as Plenum. Riser cannot be used in place of Plenum.


RJ11 connectors are the standard for telephone systems, ADSL, and modem cables. RJ11 jacks or plugs have 6 positions and 4 conductors.
RJ12 connectors are used in System phones. They have 6 positions and 6 conductors.
RJ22 is not an registered jack code. 4 position 4 conductor plugs are used for headset to telephone connections. They are sometimes incorrectly called RJ22.
RJ45 jacks and plugs are used in computer networks. They have 8 positions and 8 conductors.
These types or RJ are used with Category twisted pair cable or with flat telephone cable.


Outdoor cable needs a stronger jacket to withstand outdoor conditions. Applications include: direct burial, cell tower, outdoor equipment or aerial (horizontal pole to pole). Outdoor cable jackets can be made out of PE, LSZH, LLDPE, etc. Many outdoor cables have additional moisture protection such as gel, waterblock tape or a dual jacket.
CMX, CMXF, CMXT are standards and certifications for cable installed outdoors.
CMX: Communications External for outdoor applications: UV rated, not for direct burial.
CMXF: Communications External for outdoor applications: gel filled, rated for direct burial.
CMXT: Communications External for outdoor applications: waterblock tape or dual jacket, rated for direct burial.
More info: Outdoor Cable Guide


PE is a lighter material than PVC, more flexible, and is superior in moisture, chemical, impact, and temperature fluctuation resistance than PVC. This makes PE jackets better suited for outdoor environments than PVC jackets.


Plenum Rated jackets are made for spaces that house moving air, such as air ducts, drop ceilings, and vents. These spaces are prone to fire. Plenum cable is resistant to fire, and also blocks fire from spreading up or down the cable. Plenum Rated cable is higher quality than CM and Riser Rated cable (CMR). The hierarchy from lowest to highest is the following: PE/PVC, Riser, Plenum, Outdoor. Plenum cable produces less toxic smoke than other jackets, and can be used in place of all lower rated jackets.


These are electrical connections often used in telephony. They are named so because the solid copper wires are punched down into the IDC slots.


Compared to outdoor PE jackets, indoor PVC jackets have more additives, which make them more rigid. PVC does have a certain fire-retardant rating, but, not up to the same level as Plenum jackets. PVC cannot be used in place of Plenum.


This is a term typically used for a cable that carries both signal and power. Siamese cable usually has 2 jackets conjoined together like Siamese twins. Sometimes this term can be used very liberally and refer to ANY two cables that are conjoined together.


Singlemode optical fiber is used for communications for longer distances. This fiber optic cable has a thinner core, and a smaller attenuation rate (or loss of signal rate). This allows the signal to travel faster further. This type of cable is used by CATV companies and universities. The Singlemode optic fiber cable is more costly than Multimode.


Higher Frequency signals tend to travel on the surface of the conductor. This makes the cable more resistant and diminishes the quality of the high frequency signal. Even as conductors increase in size and have smaller resistance, the skin effect increases. The effect only becomes significant at longer distances and with higher frequencies. High strand wire technically increases the surface area of the cable, and theoretically should minimize skin effect. However, most stranded wire is not individually insulated, but twisted touching together, which in fact does not help increase the surface area. Nevertheless, in most cases skin effect is negligible.


Conductors can either come stranded or solid. Stranded cables can have strands ranging from about 10 to as high as about 100. Installers typically prefer to work with stranded cable because it is more flexible and easier to pull through – which saves time. Some argue that stranded cable helps improve high frequency signal loss due to the skin effect. Since the current travels along the surface area of the conductor, higher strand cable increases the amount of surface area for the signal to travel on.


Shielded Twisted Pair. Category cables are classified as UTP or STP. Category cables contain 2+ twisted pairs. The wires twist in a helix to cancel out electromagnetic interference (EMI). The lower the Category number, the less twisted the pairs. Category cables come either Shielded (STP) or Unshielded (UTP). STP cables typically contain an Aluminum Foil shield that protects from excessive EMI environments.


Surface Junction Boxes are used to securely house cable and connections behind a wall. Typically a Wall Plate is mounted in front of the wall, where the wire comes out. Brackets are used to create doorways in walls for cable and connections to come through.


Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Is one of several companies approved to perform safety-related certification, auditing, inspection, training & testing by a US federal agency (OSHA). It was started in 1894 by William Merrill. The UL mark tells customers, installers, manufacturers and distributors that the product has been tested and certified to federal safety standards. ETL is a similar agency.


Unshielded Twisted Pair. Category cables are classified as UTP or STP. Category cables contain 2+ twisted pairs. The wires twist in a helix to cancel out electromagnetic interference (EMI). The lower the Category number, the less twists in the pairs. Category cables come either Shielded (STP) or Unshielded (UTP). UTP cables have no Aluminum Foil to shield the signal from excessive EMI environments.