UTP Cable Types

CCNA Exploration - Network Fundamentals

OSI Physical Layer

Chapter Introduction

Chapter Introduction

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Upper OSI layer protocols prepare data from the human network for transmission to its destination. The Physical layer controls how data is transmitted on the communication media.

The role of the OSI Physical layer is to encode the binary digits that represent Data Link layer frames into signals and to transmit and receive these signals across the physical media - copper wires, optical fiber, and wireless - that connect network devices.

This chapter introduces the general functions of the Physical layer as well as the standards and protocols that manage the transmission of data across local UTP Cable Types media.

In this chapter, you will learn to:

The Physical Layer - Communication Signals

Physical Layer - Purpose

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The OSI Physical layer provides the means to transport across the network UTP Cable Types media the bits that make up a Data Link layer frame. This layer accepts a complete frame from the Data Link layer and encodes it as a series of signals that are transmitted onto the local media. The encoded bits that comprise a frame are received by either an end device or an intermediate device.

The delivery of frames across the local media requires the following Physical layer elements:

At this stage of the communication process, the user data UTP Cable Types has been segmented by the Transport layer, placed into packets by the Network layer, and further encapsulated as frames by the Data Link layer. The purpose of the Physical layer is to create the electrical, optical, or microwave signal that represents the bits in each frame. These signals are then sent on the media one at a time.

It is also the job of the Physical layer to retrieve these individual signals from the media, restore them to their bit representations, and pass the bits up to the Data Link layer as a complete frame.

8.1.2 Physical Layer - Operation

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The media does not carry the frame as a single entity. The media carries signals, one at a time, to represent the bits that make up the frame.

There are three basic forms of network media on which data is represented:

The representation of the bits - that is, the type of signal - depends on the type of media. For copper cable media, the signals are patterns of electrical pulses. For fiber, the signals are patterns of light. For wireless media, the signals are patterns of radio transmissions.

Identifying a Frame

When the Physical layer encodes the bits into the UTP Cable Types signals for a particular medium, it must also distinguish where one frame ends and the next frame begins. Otherwise, the devices on the media would not recognize when a frame has been fully received. In that case, the destination device would only receive a string of signals and would not be able to properly reconstruct the frame. As described in the previous chapter, indicating the beginning of frame is often a function of the Data Link layer. However, in many technologies, the Physical layer may add its own signals to indicate the beginning and end of the UTP Cable Types frame.

To enable a receiving device to clearly recognize a frame boundary, the transmitting device adds signals to designate the start and end of a frame. These signals represent particular bit patterns that are only used to denote the start or end of a frame.

The process of encoding a frame of data from the logical bits into the physical signals on the media, and the characteristics of particular physical media, are covered in detail in the following sections of this chapter.

8.1.3 Physical Layer - Standards

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The Physical layer consists of hardware, developed by engineers, in the form of electronic circuitry, media, and UTP Cable Types connectors. Therefore, it is appropriate that the standards governing this hardware are defined by the relevant electrical and communications engineering organizations.

By comparison, the protocols and operations of the upper OSI layers are performed by software and are designed by software engineers and computer scientists. As we saw in a previous chapter, the services and protocols in the TCP/IP suite are defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in RFCs.

Similar to technologies associated with the Data Link layer, the Physical layer technologies are defined by organizations such as:

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Physical Layer Technologies and Hardware

The technologies defined by these organizations include four areas of the Physical layer standards:

Click Signals, Connectors, and Cables in the figure to see the hardware.

Hardware components such as UTP Cable Types network adapters (NICs), interfaces and connectors, cable materials, and cable designs are all specified in standards associated with the Physical layer.

8.1.4 Physical layer Fundamental Principles

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The three fundamental functions of the Physical layer are:

The physical elements are the electronic hardware devices, media and connectors that transmit and carry the signals to represent the bits.


Encoding is a method of converting a stream of data bits into a predefined code. Codes are groupings of bits used to provide a predictable pattern that can be recognized by both the sender and the received. Using predictable patterns helps UTP Cable Types to distinguish data bits from control bits and provide better media error detection.

In addition to creating codes for data, encoding methods at the Physical layer may also provide codes for control purposes such as identifying the beginning and end of a frame. The transmitting host will transmit the specific pattern of bits or a code to identify the beginning and end of the frame.


The Physical layer must generate the electrical, optical, or wireless signals that represent the "1" and "0" on the media. The method of representing the bits is called the signaling method. The Physical layer standards UTP Cable Types must define what type of signal represents a "1" and a "0". This can be as simple as a change in the level of an electrical signal or optical pulse or a more complex signaling method.

In the next sections, you will examine different methods of signaling and encoding.

8.2 Physical Signaling and Encoding: Representing Bits

Signaling Bits for the Media

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Eventually, all communication from the human network becomes binary digits, which are transported individually across the physical media.

Although all the bits that make up a frame are presented to the Physical layer as a unit, the transmission of the frame across the media UTP Cable Types occurs as a stream of bits sent one at a time. The Physical layer represents each of the bits in the frame as a signal. Each signal placed onto the media has a specific amount of time to occupy the media. This is referred to as its bit time. Signals are processed by the receiving device and returned to its representation as bits.

At the Physical layer of the receiving node, the signals are converted back into bits. The bits are then examined for the start of frame and end of frame bit patterns to determine that a UTP Cable Types complete frame has been received. The Physical layer then delivers all the bits of a frame to the Data Link layer.

Successful delivery of the bits requires some method of synchronization between transmitter and receiver. The signals representing the bits must be examined at specific times during the bit time to properly determine if the signal represents a "1" or a "0". The synchronization is accomplished by the use of a clock. In LANs, each end of the transmission maintains its own clock. Many signaling methods use predictable transitions in the signal to provide synchronization between the clocks of the transmitting and UTP Cable Types the receiving devices.

Signaling Methods

Bits are represented on the medium by changing one or more of the following characteristics of a signal:

The nature of the actual signals representing the bits on the media will depend on the signaling method in use. Some methods may use one attribute of signal to represent a single 0 and use another attribute of signal to represent a single 1.

As an example, with Non-Return to Zero (NRZ), a 0 may be represented by one voltage level on the media during the bit time and a 1 might be represented by a different voltage on the UTP Cable Types media during the bit time.

There are also methods of signaling that use transitions, or the absence of transitions, to indicate a logic level. For example, Manchester Encoding indicates a 0 by a high to low voltage transition in the middle of the bit time. For a 1 there is a low to high voltage transition in the middle of the bit time.

The signaling method used must be compatible with a standard so that the receiver can detect the signals and decode them. The standard contains an agreement between the transmitter and the receiver on how to represent 1s and UTP Cable Types 0s. If there is no signaling agreement - that is, if different standards are used at each end of the transmission - communication across the physical medium will fail.

Signaling methods to represent bits on the media can be complex. We will look at two of the simpler techniques to illustrate the concept.

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NRZ Signaling

As a first example, we will examine a simple signaling method, Non Return to Zero (NRZ). In NRZ, the bit stream is transmitted as a series of voltage values, as shown in the figure.

A low voltage value represents a logical 0 and a high voltage value represents UTP Cable Types a logical 1. The voltage range depends on the particular Physical layer standard in use.

This simple method of signaling is only suited for slow speed data links. NRZ signaling uses bandwidth inefficiently and is susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Additionally, the boundaries between individual bits can be lost when long strings of 1s or 0s are transmitted consecutively. In that case, no voltage transitions are detectable on the media. Therefore, the receiving nodes do not have a transition to use in resynchronizing bit times with the transmitting node.

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Manchester Encoding

Instead of representing bits as pulses of UTP Cable Types simple voltage values, in the Manchester Encoding scheme, bit values are represented as voltage transitions.

For example, a transition from a low voltage to a high voltage represents a bit value of 1. A transition from a high voltage to a low voltage represents a bit value of 0.

As shown in the figure, one voltage transition must occur in the middle of each bit time. This transition can be used to ensure that the bit times in the receiving nodes are synchronized with the transmitting node.

The transition in the middle of the bit time will be either the up or down direction UTP Cable Types for each unit of time in which a bit is transmitted. For consecutive bit values, a transition on the bit boundary "sets up" the appropriate mid-bit time transition that represents the bit value.

Although Manchester Encoding is not efficient enough to be used at higher signaling speeds, it is the signaling method employed by 10BaseT Ethernet (Ethernet running at 10 Megabits per second).

8.2.2 Encoding - Grouping Bits

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In the prior section, we describe the signaling process as how bits are represented on physical media. In this section, we use of the word encoding to represent the symbolic grouping UTP Cable Types of bits prior to being presented to the media. By using an encoding step before the signals are placed on the media, we improve the efficiency at higher speed data transmission.

As we use higher speeds on the media, we have the possibility that data will be corrupted. By using the coding groups, we can detect errors more efficiently. Additionally, as the demand for data speeds increase, we seek ways to represent more data across the media, by transmitting fewer bits. Coding groups provide a method of making this data representation.

The Physical layer of a network device needs to UTP Cable Types be able to detect legitimate data signals and ignore random non-data signals that may also be on the physical medium. The stream of signals being transmitted needs to start in such a way that the receiver recognizes the beginning and end of the frame.

Signal Patterns

One way to provide frame detection is to begin each frame with a pattern of signals representing bits that the Physical layer recognizes as denoting the start of a frame. Another pattern of bits will signal the end of the frame. Signal bits not framed in this manner are ignored by UTP Cable Types the Physical layer standard being used.

Valid data bits need to be grouped into a frame; otherwise, data bits will be received without any context to give them meaning to the upper layers of the networking model. This framing method can be provided by the Data Link layer, the Physical layer, or by both.

The figure depicts some of the purposes of signaling patterns. Signal patterns can indicate: start of frame, end of frame, and frame contents. These signal patterns can be decoded into bits. The bits are interpreted as codes. The codes indicate where the frames start and stop.

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Code UTP Cable Types Groups

Encoding techniques use bit patterns called symbols. The Physical layer may use a set of encoded symbols - called code groups - to represent encoded data or control information. A code group is a consecutive sequence of code bits that are interpreted and mapped as data bit patterns. For example, code bits 10101 could represent the data bits 0011.

As shown in the figure, code groups are often used as an intermediary encoding technique for higher speed LAN technologies. This step occurs at the Physical layer prior to the generation of signals of voltages, light pulses, or radio frequencies. By UTP Cable Types transmitting symbols, the error detection capabilities and timing synchronization between transmitting and receiving devices are enhanced. These are important considerations in supporting high speed transmission over the media.

Although using code groups introduces overhead in the form of extra bits to transmit, they improve the robustness of a communications link. This is particularly true for higher speed data transmission.

Advantages using code groups include:

Reducing Bit Level Errors

To properly detect an individual bit as a 0 or as a 1, the UTP Cable Types receiver must know how and when to sample the signal on the media. This requires that the timing between the receiver and transmitter be synchronized. In many Physical layer technologies, transitions on the media are used for this synchronization. If the bit patterns being transmitted on the media do not create frequent transitions, this synchronization may be lost and individual bit error can occur. Code groups are designed so that the symbols force an ample number of bit transitions to occur on the media to synchronize this timing. They do this by using symbols to ensure that not too UTP Cable Types many 1s or 0s are used in a row.

Limiting Energy Transmitted

In many code groups, the symbols ensure that the number of 1s and 0s in a string of symbols are evenly balanced. The process of balancing the number of 1s and 0s transmitted is called DC balancing. This prevents excessive amounts of energy from being injected into the media during transmission, thereby reducing the interference radiated from the media. In many media signaling methods, a logic level, for example a 1, is represented by the presence of energy being sent into the media while the opposite logic level, a UTP Cable Types 0, is represented as the absence of this energy. Transmitting a long series of 1s could overheat the transmitting laser and the photo diodes in the receiver, potentially causing higher error rates.

Distinguish Data from Control

The code groups have three types of symbols:

The symbols encoded onto the media are all unique. The symbols representing the data being sent through the network have different bit patterns than the symbols used for control. These differences allow the Physical layer in the receiving node to immediately distinguish data from control information.

Better Media Error Detection

In addition to the data symbols and control symbols, code groups contain invalid symbols. These are the symbols that could create long series of 1s or 0s on the media; therefore, they are not used by the transmitting node. If a receiving node receives one of UTP Cable Types these patterns, the Physical layer can determine that there has been an error in data reception.

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An example, we will examine a simple code group called 4B/5B. Code groups that are currently used in modern networks are generally more complex.

In this technique, 4 bits of data are turned into 5-bit code symbols for transmission over the media system. In 4B/5B, each byte to be transmitted is broken into four-bit pieces or nibbles and encoded as five-bit values known as symbols. These symbols represent the data to be transmitted as well as a set of UTP Cable Types codes that help control transmission on the media. Among the codes are symbols that indicate the beginning and end of the frame transmission. Although this process adds overhead to the bit transmissions, it also adds features that aid in the transmission of data at higher speeds.

4B/5B ensures that there is at least one level change per code to provide synchronization. Most of the codes used in 4B/5B balance the number of 1s and 0s used in each symbol.

As shown in the figure, 16 of the possible 32 combinations of code groups are allocated for data bits, and UTP Cable Types the remaining code groups are used for control symbols and invalid symbols. Six of the symbols are used for special functions identifying the transition from idle to frame data and end of stream delimiter. The remaining 10 symbols indicate invalid codes.

8.2.3 Data Carrying Capacity

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Different physical media support the transfer of bits at different speeds. Data transfer can be measured in three ways:


The capacity of a medium to carry data is described as the raw data bandwidth of the media. Digital bandwidth measures the amount of information that can flow from one place to another in a given amount UTP Cable Types of time. Bandwidth is typically measured in kilobits per second (kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps).

The practical bandwidth of a network is determined by a combination of factors: the properties of the physical media and the technologies chosen for signaling and detecting network signals.

Physical media properties, current technologies, and the laws of physics all play a role in determining available bandwidth.

The figure shows the commonly used units of bandwidth.

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Throughput is the measure of the transfer of bits across the media over a given period of time. Due to a number of factors, throughput usually UTP Cable Types does not match the specified bandwidth in Physical layer implementations such as Ethernet.

Many factors influence throughput. Among these factors are the amount of traffic, the type of traffic, and the number of network devices encountered on the network being measured. In a multi-access topology such as Ethernet, nodes are competing for media access and its use. Therefore, the throughput of each node is degraded as usage of the media increases.

In an internetwork or network with multiple segments, throughput cannot be faster than the slowest link of the path from source to destination. Even if all UTP Cable Types or most of the segments have high bandwidth, it will only take one segment in the path with low throughput to create a bottleneck to the throughput of the entire network.


A third measurement has been created to measure the transfer of usable data. That measure is known as goodput. Goodput is the measure of usable data transferred over a given period of time, and is therefore the measure that is of most interest to network users.

As shown in the figure, goodput measures the effective transfer of user data between Application layer entities, such as between a UTP Cable Types source web server process and a destination web browser device.

Unlike throughput, which measures the transfer of bits and not the transfer of usable data, goodput accounts for bits devoted to protocol overhead. Goodput is throughput minus traffic overhead for establishing sessions, acknowledgements, and encapsulation.

As an example, consider two hosts on a LAN transferring a file. The bandwidth of the LAN is 100 Mbps. Due to the sharing and media overhead the throughput between the computers is only 60 Mbps. With the overhead of the encapsulation process of the TCP/IP stack, the actual rate of the data received by the destination UTP Cable Types computer, goodput, is only 40Mbps.

Physical Media - Connecting Communication

Types of Physical Media

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The Physical layer is concerned with network media and signaling. This layer produces the representation and groupings of bits as voltages, radio frequencies, or light pulses. Various standards organizations have contributed to the definition of the physical, electrical, and mechanical properties of the media available for different data communications. These specifications guarantee that cables and connectors will function as anticipated with different Data Link layer implementations.

As an example, standards for copper media are defined for the:

The figure shows some of the characteristics of networking media.

This section will also describe some of the important characteristics of commonly used copper, optical, and wireless media.

8.3.2 Copper Media

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The most commonly used media for data communications is cabling that uses copper wires to signal data and control bits between network devices. Cabling used for data communications usually consists of a series of individual copper wires that form circuits dedicated to specific signaling purposes.

Other types of copper cabling, known as coaxial cable, have a single conductor UTP Cable Types that runs through the center of the cable that is encased by, but insulated from, the other shield. The copper media type chosen is specified by the Physical layer standard required to link the Data Link layers of two or more network devices.

These cables can be used to connect nodes on a LAN to intermediate devices, such as routers and switches. Cables are also used to connect WAN devices to a data services provider such as a telephone company. Each type of connection and the accompanying devices have cabling requirements stipulated by Physical layer standards.

Networking media generally UTP Cable Types make use of modular jacks and plugs, which provide easy connection and disconnection. Also, a single type of physical connector may be used for multiple types of connections. For example, the RJ-45 connector is used widely in LANs with one type of media and in some WANs with another media type.

The figure shows some commonly used copper media and connectors.

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External Signal Interference

Data is transmitted on copper cables as electrical pulses. A detector in the network interface of a destination device must receive a signal that can be successfully decoded to match the signal sent UTP Cable Types.

The timing and voltage values of these signals are susceptible to interference or "noise" from outside the communications system. These unwanted signals can distort and corrupt the data signals being carried by copper media. Radio waves and electromagnetic devices such as fluorescent lights, electric motors, and other devices are potential sources of noise.

Cable types with shielding or twisting of the pairs of wires are designed to minimize signal degradation due to electronic noise.

The susceptibility of copper cables to electronic noise can also be limited by:

The figure shows some sources of interference.

8.3.2 - Copper Media
The diagram depicts external signal interference sources that can affect copper media. Large bundles of under-floor UTP copper cables are shown along with sources of interference, including fluorescent lighting (office environment), electric motors (drill), and radio waves (radio tower).

8.3.3 Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable

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Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling, as it is used in Ethernet LANs, consists UTP Cable Types of four pairs of color-coded wires that have been twisted together and then encased in a flexible plastic sheath. As seen in the figure, the color codes identify the individual pairs and wires in the pairs and aid in cable termination.

The twisting has the effect of canceling unwanted signals. When two wires in an electrical circuit are placed close together, external electromagnetic fields create the same interference in each wire. The pairs are twisted to keep the wires in as close proximity as is physically possible. When this common interference is present on the wires in a UTP Cable Types twisted pair, the receiver processes it in equal yet opposite ways. As a result, the signals caused by electromagnetic interference from external sources are effectively cancelled.

This cancellation effect also helps avoid interference from internal sources called crosstalk. Crosstalk is the interference caused by the magnetic field around the adjacent pairs of wires in the cable. When electrical current flows through a wire, it creates a circular magnetic field around the wire. With the current flowing in opposite directions in the two wires in a pair, the magnetic fields - as equal but opposite forces - have a cancellation effect on each other. Additionally UTP Cable Types, the different pairs of wires that are twisted in the cable use a different number of twists per meter to help protect the cable from crosstalk between pairs.

UTP Cabling Standards

The UTP cabling commonly found in workplaces, schools, and homes conforms to the standards established jointly by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA). TIA/EIA-568A stipulates the commercial cabling standards for LAN installations and is the standard most commonly used in LAN cabling environments. Some of the elements defined are:

The electrical characteristics of UTP Cable Types copper cabling are defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE rates UTP cabling according to its performance. Cables are placed into categories according to their ability to carry higher bandwidth rates. For example, Category 5 (Cat5) cable is used commonly in 100BASE-TX FastEthernet installations. Other categories include Enhanced Category 5 (Cat5e) cable and Category 6 (Cat6).

Cables in higher categories are designed and constructed to support higher data rates. As new gigabit speed Ethernet technologies are being developed and adopted, Cat5e is now the minimally acceptable cable type, with Cat6 being the recommended type for UTP Cable Types new building installations.

Some people connect to data network using existing telephone systems. Often the cabling in these systems are some form of UTP that are lower grade than the current Cat5+ standards.

Installing less expensive but lower rated cabling is potentially wasteful and shortsighted. If the decision is later made to adopt a faster LAN technology, total replacement of the installed cable infrastructure may be required.

8.3.3 - Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable
The diagram depicts the components of an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable.

Outer jacket: Protects the copper wire from physical damage.
Twisted pairs: Protects the signal from interference.
Color-coded plastic UTP Cable Types insulation: Electrically isolates wire from each other and identifies each pair.

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UTP Cable Types

UTP cabling, terminated with RJ-45 connectors, is a common copper-based medium for interconnecting network devices, such as computers, with intermediate devices, such as routers and network switches.

Different situations may require UTP cables to be wired according to different wiring conventions. This means that the individual wires in the cable have to be connected in different orders to different sets of pins in the RJ-45 connectors. The following are main cable types that are obtained by using specific wiring conventions:

The figure shows the typical application of these cables as well as a comparison of these three cable types.

Using a crossover or straight-through cable incorrectly between devices may not damage the devices, but connectivity and communication between the devices will not take place. This is a common error in the lab and checking that the device connections are correct should be the first troubleshooting action if connectivity is not achieved.

8.3.3 - Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable
The diagram depicts three types of UTP cables used in networking: Ethernet straight-through, Ethernet crossover, and rollover.

Cable Type 1: Ethernet straight UTP Cable Types-through
Standard: Both ends T568A or both ends T568B
Application: Connecting a network host to a network device such as a switch or hub.

Cable Type 2: Ethernet crossover
Standard: One end T568A, other end T568B
Application: Connecting two network hosts.
Connecting two network intermediary devices (switch to switch, or router to router).

Cable Type 3: Rollover
Standard: Cisco proprietary
Application: Connecting a workstation serial port to a router console port, using an adapter.

The diagram shows two standards for wiring an Ethernet straight-through cable, T568A and T568B.

Pair 1 is made UTP Cable Types up of pins 4 and 5, wire colors blue and blue/white.
Pair 2 is made up of pins 3 and 6, wire colors orange/white and orange.
Pair 3 is made up of pins 1 and 2, wire colors green/white and green.
Pair 4 is made up of pins 7 and 8, wire colors brown/white and brown.

Pair 1 is made up of pins 4 and 5, wire colors blue and blue/white.
Pair 2 is made up of pins 1 and 2, wire colors orange/white and orange.
Pair 3 is made up of pins 3 and 6, wire colors green/white and green.
Pair 4 is made up of pins 7 and 8, wire colors brown/white UTP Cable Types and brown.

8.3.4 Other Copper Cable

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Two other types of copper cable are used:

1. Coaxial

2. Shielded Twisted-Pair (STP)

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