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HomeTips & GuidesCat 4 Cable Speed: An ultimate guide on cat 4 cables

Cat 4 Cable Speed: An ultimate guide on cat 4 cables

When looking for a cable for your networking setup you’ll come to find that there are various types of networking cables grouped according to their category numbers. The article below will focus on Cat 4 cable speed and try to give you a better understanding of how networking cables have evolved over the years.

What is the Cat 4 Cable Speed?

Category 4 or Cat 4 was a cabling standard that emerged as an update of the Cat 3 cable. It’s the 4th lowest level of UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cabling. Cat 4 cables are designed to support digital data and voice communication at speeds of up to 16 Mbps.

It uses 24 AWG or 22 AWG copper wires in a configuration of 4 twisted pairs enclosed in a protective insulating sheath. Also, it is capable of supporting 10BaseT ethernet networks.

As a result of the introduction of faster ethernet standards, specifically the Cat 5 cable, the Cat 4 cable demise. Since Cat 4 cables were unable to support the 100 Mbps fast ethernet, the Cat 5 cable replaced them in the majority of networking applications.

Despite all that, it’s important to understand Cat 4 cables as they mark a vital stage in the evolution of networking technologies. Cat 4 cables bridged the gap between voice-level cabling and the high-speed requirements of further advanced data networks.

Cat 4 Cabling Characteristics

The table is a summary of the electrical characteristics of Cat 4 cables at various frequencies that correspond to various data transmission speeds. Keep in mind, that an increase in frequency leads to an increase in attenuation while NEXT (near end crosstalk) decreases.

CharacteristicValue at 20 MHzValue at 10 MHz
Capacitance18 pF/ft18 pF/ft
Resistance28.6 ohms per 1000 ft28.6 ohms per 1000 ft
Attenuation31 decibls per 1000 ft20 decibels per 1000 ft
Impedance100 ohms (± 15%)100 ohms (± 15%)
NEXT36 decibels per 1000 ft41 decibels per 1000 ft

The technical specifications of Cat 4 cables are as follows;

  • Data Transfer Rates—Cat 4 cables can support data transfer speeds of up to 16 Mbps, which makes them ideal for token ring networks, which were dominant when they were introduced.
  • Bandwidth Capacity—Cat 4 cables feature a bandwidth capacity of 20 MHz. Although this seemed low in the past, it was considered a significant improvement.
  • Typical Uses – Cat 4 cables were mainly used in token rings and telephone networks.

Historical Context of Cat 4 Cabling

Going back to the introduction of the Cat 4 cables which was back in the 1990s, we return to an important period in the development of network technology. It was a time when LANs were becoming common in workplace areas and there was a rise in the demand for faster data transmission speeds.

During this time networking was mainly dominated by 2 technologies; token ring and ethernet. The introduction of the Cat 4 cable significantly benefited the token ring network. Cat 4 cables offered a higher bandwidth capacity of up to 20 MHz and faster data transmission speeds of up to 16 Mbps that suited the token ring network. This was a major upgrade from the then 10 Mbps offered then by standard Cat 3 cables.

However, the Cat 4 reign was short-lived. The fast development of ethernet technology, especially with the introduction of 100 Mbps fast ethernet, soon outpaced the use of Cat 4 cables.

This was marked by fast technological advancements and shifting networking standards that set the stage for the development of further advanced cabling solutions that could support the burgeoning bandwidth and speed demands of modern networking.

Comparison of Cat 4 Cabling With Other Categories

When examining a networking cable’s landscape, it’s important to understand where Cat 4 fits in regard to its successor and predecessor.

  • Cat 3 vs Cat 4 – Cat 3 was used for early networking and telephone wiring as it supports a bandwidth of 16 MHz and data transfer speeds of up to 10 Mbps. Therefore, making Cat 4 more ideal for higher speed and advanced network environments.
  • Cat 4 vs Cat 5 – Cat 5 cabling marked a significant step forward in networking technologies. It offers a bandwidth of 100 MHz and data transmission speeds of up to 100 Mbps alongside Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). Due to such capabilities the Cat 5 cable quickly led to the demise of the Cat 4 cable.
Cat 5 Networking Cable

Cat 5 Networking Cable

Legacy and Phasing Out

Cat 4 cables mainly phased out as a result of fast evolution of networking technologies that demanded more bandwidth and faster data transmission speeds than the Cat 4 was capable of providing. 

Cat 5 cables could support a bandwidth of up to 100 MHz and data transmission speeds as high as 100 Mbps, which soon became the standard, displacing Cat 4 cables.

The Cat 4 cable’s legacy is in the fact that it was sort of the bridge between the traditional network cables and advanced high-speed cables that came after. 

Cat 4 cables acted as a stepping stone demonstrating the need and potential for faster data transmission speeds in networking environments.


There you have, all you need to know about Cat 4 cables from its cabling characteristics to its historical context. For all your ethernet cable needs feel free to contact Cloom Tech.

I am Lillian Yang, having been a sales manager for over 10 years.

I have received many positive reviews from customers. They have praised our excellent service, on-time delivery, and high-quality cable assemblies.

For your projects, please provide cable assembly files/images/smples, etc., so that I can send you a quotation within 24 hours.

Contact me now and let’s get started on building your wire harnesses!

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