By Joshua Erdman
After you run your network wires, you do what we call termination. This is where you connect the wire to a network jack, plug, or patch panel. Since there are 8 wires (mostly referred to as 4 pair) you need to use the correct wiring order when terminating.
Network Wiring Standards
There are 2 popular wiring standards, both created by AT&T. They are T568A and T568B. Either one is fine as long as you use the same standard at each end of the wire. The difference between the two standards are only color, the way the pairs are grouped is still the same. For this article we will only discuss T568B because that is how I wire everything.
Patch Panels and Wall Sockets
So let's say you run a network wire from your server room to someone's office and you want it to look real clean. An experienced person would terminate the end that is in the server room to a patch panel. There you could label where the other end of the wire is (Usually by floor and room number), allowing you to keep your sanity because everything is organized. Now you can plug a short patch cable from the desired port on the patch panel to the closely located hub or switch. The other end of the wire would be terminated at a wall socket (sometimes called a drop). Labelled on both the back of the patch panel and the wall socket will be the color codes for the T568B and/or T568A, so make sure you use the same wiring standard on each end.
There are other situations when instead of connecting a wire to a wall socket or a patch panel you need to put a plug (or ice cube) on the end. The T568B color order for this is White/Orange-Orange, White/Green-Blue, White/Blue-Green, White/Brown-Brown. This is with the bottom of the ice cube facing you and the wire hanging out of the ice cube from below. As you can see, the blue pair is in the middle and is straddled by the green pair, with the orange and brown pairs on each side.
Typical networks only use 2 of these 4 pair, they are the Orange and Green pairs. So if you are ever in a bind and need to make a second run, you can always grab the unused brown and blue pairs of an already existing run and wire them where the orange and green pairs typically go. One thing that I have noticed though is that in CAT5e, the orange and green pairs are twisted tighter than the blue and brown pairs. So do not expect to get the CAT5e quality on the network drop using the split pairs (brown and blue).
Finally another type of Patch cable that you may need to make from scratch is a cross-cable. Read our detailed article explaining the details and uses of a cross cable.
Network Wiring Tools & Hardware
Now that you got all your computers communicating together over your new network, read my article on "Connecting Multiple PCs to the Internet". It will explain how to set up your network so all your computers can share one Internet connection.
Read The Administrator's Ultimate Toolkit Article for good ideas on tools and where to buy them.
Article last reviewed: 11/08/2004