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How to Terminate and Install Cat5e, Cat6 Keystone Jacks?

Updated on Feb 17, 2024 by
211.1k

In today's digital age, a stable and high-speed network connection is essential for both personal and professional use. This guide provides a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to terminating and installing Cat5e and Cat6 keystone jacks, ensuring optimal performance and reliability. Whether you're setting up a home network or managing a large-scale enterprise system, this tutorial will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve a seamless and efficient network infrastructure.

Keystone Jack Termination Basics

Before attempting to terminate and install Cat5e/Cat6 keystone jacks yourself, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the RJ45 keystone jack and its role in creating a reliable network connection. This knowledge will ensure that every connection you make is correct and that your network operates smoothly.

What Are Keystone Jacks?

Keystone jacks are modular connectors essential in networking, terminating Ethernet cables, and linking them to wall plates or patch panels. Their name comes from their fit into standardized wall plates and patch panels with rectangular "keystone" openings. Available in types like Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a, they align with respective cable standards, typically featuring eight pins (8P8C). RJ45 keystone jacks are crucial for reliable, high-speed network connections, ensuring correct wire connections to pins for proper signal transmission and data transfer in residential and commercial networking setups.

Cat5e keystone jacks are rated for up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) and are suitable for most home and small business networks. Cat6 keystone jacks, on the other hand, are rated for up to 10 Gbps and are ideal for high-speed networks, such as those found in large businesses or data centers. Both types of RJ45 keystone jacks are available in various colors and configurations to suit different installation needs.

T568A and T568B Wiring Standards

T568A and T568B are two wiring standards used for terminating Ethernet cables with RJ45 connectors. These standards define the pin assignments for the eight wires inside the Ethernet cable and ensure that the cables are wired consistently across different installations.

The main difference between T568A and T568B is the order in which the wires are connected to the pins of the RJ45 connector. The T568A standard has a different pin assignment for pins 1 and 3 compared to the T568B standard (as shown below).

t568a-and-t568b

Types of RJ45 Keystone Jacks

Keystone connectors are highly versatile, as multiple types can be mounted on a single patch panel. They come in unshielded and shielded forms and can handle cords and cables with different numbers of conductors. Each RJ45 keystone jack has its own labeling and color arrangement. The three most common types are:

Diagram Explanation
punchdown 2 standard pairs on the right and 2 variable pairs on the left. The A standard is the center column and the B standard is on the left. Both A and B standards apply to the right side of the jack.
The solid color box with the lower right corner missing represents the solid color wire with the white stripe; the white box with the colored tip represents the white wire with the colored stripe.
punchdown A and B standards on both sides of the jack, with the color code running down the center.
A and B standard codes are labeled on the outside of the jack, with the A standard on top and the B standard on the bottom.
punchdown A and B standard codes are labeled on the outside of the jack, with the A standard on top and the B standard on the bottom.
The solid box represents the solid wire with the white stripe while the box with; the white diagonal stripe going through the middle represents the white wire with the colored stripe.
 

Tools Needed for Cat5e/Cat6 Termination

Once you've acquired a basic understanding of keystone jacks, you'll need to gather the essential tools and materials for terminating and installing Cat5e and Cat6 keystone jacks. Here's a list of what you'll need:

  • Cat5e or Cat6 Ethernet cable

  • Cat5e or Cat6 Keystone Jacks

  • Punchdown Tool

  • Wire Stripper

  • Conductor Clipping Tool

  • Cable Tester

  • Wall Plate or Patch Panel (if applicable)

 

Cat5e and Cat6 Termination Guidance

Terminating Cat5e or Cat6 cables may seem complex, but it's straightforward if you follow these steps:

Step One

Insert the cable into the stripping tool and strip off just enough jacket to terminate the pairs (1 to 1.5 inches should be enough). Rotate the tool around the cable, bend the jacket, and remove the cut piece manually or with the stripper.

Step 1 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Two

Bend each pair of wires to reveal any ripcord, binder, or cross-web filler. If present, remove these, leaving only the twisted pairs. Cut the cross-web filler as close to the jacket as possible. Align the cables according to the wiring scheme and keep the cable jacket close to the connector. Ensure that the connectors, wall plates, and patch panels used are compatible with the cable's grade.

Step 2 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Three

Maintain wire pair twists close to termination. Keep untwisting below 0.5 inches for Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a cables to avoid near-end crosstalk (FYI: A half of an inch of an untwisted wire pair results in 1.5 dB of near-end crosstalk.). Insert wires into terminal slots and maintain twists before terminating all pairs in the T568B wiring scheme.

Step 3 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Four

When using a punch-down tool, ensure it's straight and the cut-side faces outward. Check that the wires are fully engaged and properly cut in the IDC terminals. Protect the jack with a dust cover.

Step 4 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

DONE!

The diagram displays a fully assembled jack. Ready to install it into a wall plate or keystone jack patch panel? Make sure to test the connection using a cable tester to confirm continuity and correct wiring. If any problems arise, review the wiring and re-terminate if necessary.

Complete Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

If you prefer visual instructions, watch this video. It shows how to terminate FS Cat6 bulk cable into a Cat6 unshielded toolless keystone jack module.

 

Conclusion

Terminating and installing Cat5e and Cat6 keystone jacks is a simple process that can greatly enhance your network's performance and reliability. By following this guide and using the correct tools and materials, you can ensure a stable, high-speed connection for all your networking needs.

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