Thursday, March 10, 2005

What type of wire should I use for my phone system?

In the past people used quad wire, or POTS wire. This wire is not twisted, is susceptible to interference, and is not suitable for telephone systems with several lines. If you are updating an old system and you encounter this wire, your best option is to replace the old wire with some type of twisted pair wire, such as Cat 3 or Cat 5e, rather than expanding the system with the quad wire in place.

Most installers have been using Cat 3 for phones, but Cat 3 is getting harder to find, and the price difference between Cat 3 and Cat 5e has narrowed considerably to around five dollars per thousand feet. Cat 3 is still recommended for phones, but if there's any chance that your phone system may be used for data transmission in the future, an upgrade to Cat 5e would be well-advised.

Aside from future-proofing, there is another reason that some people use Cat 5e for phones: simplicity of installation. If you are wiring for a computer network at the same time that you are wiring for a telephone network and the job is very large, you may find it easier to contend with one type of cable rather than dozens of boxes of different kinds. There is truly nothing worse in an installation than pulling a long run, especially one that requires fishing through small conduits and around tight corners, only to find out that you pulled the wrong cable.

There are a few installers who use Cat 6 for telephone systems. Unless the phone network may be used as a computer network in the future, this is a strange choice. It is the equivalent of using a speed boat to cross a swimming pool or using a chainsaw to remove a small twig from a bush--it's very unecessary, very expensive, a big hassle for what you're trying to accomplish, but it will work.


At August 11, 2009 at 1:18 PM, Blogger Qarzeez said...

Thanks for the useful tips.

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At August 11, 2010 at 7:44 PM, Anonymous Telephone Systems Northeast Mississippi said...

I'm not sure Northeast Mississippi Telephone Systems use the Cat 6... but Cat 6 is good for most telephone system...

At October 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as cat6 solid/shielded or cat6a solid wire?

I'm running phone/dsl line from my the box in my building to my apartment to the first jack. I bought a stranded shielded 4 wire cable (unrated, from frys) and the wires were silver not copper in color. This scared me. Also, it was hard to use the stranded wires at the box, once I had run the line.
(I've upgraded all the wires from beyond my modem to cat6a.) Please advise.

At February 19, 2014 at 3:49 AM, Anonymous InLineCom said...

The latest twisted cat 6 cable very useful in phone system because my company use different line some twisted and plan wire with copper cover.

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At January 13, 2015 at 11:57 AM, Blogger Hendersonrose92 said...

My office should look into updating their telephone system. They're still using a POTS wire. We're planning on getting a couple more phones in the office so we definitely need a change. My boss doesn't really listen to me so hopefully the telephone installation guy can convince him to change.

At March 14, 2016 at 9:27 PM, Blogger Carrick Austin said...

I think you should try Cat 5 wire, its good for all new phone wiring projects. The older four-color type allows more crosstalk between wire. this might be only a minor annoyance for voice lines, but it's a bigger problem for modems or DSL lines.
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At June 22, 2016 at 3:28 PM, Blogger Adam Lynch said...

There is a widely held misconception that telephone wiring is an impossible feat for the average non-technical person. As the fact mentioned on this website small wiring jobs in house or small business can be much easier than expect.

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