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Category 3 cable, commonly known as Cat 3 or station wire, is an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable designed to reliably carry data up to 10 Mbit/s, with a possible bandwidth of 16 MHz. It is part of a family of copper cabling standards defined jointly by the Electronic Industries Alliance and the Telecommunications Industry Association.
Category 3 was a popular cabling format among computer network administrators in the early 1990s, but fell out of popularity in favor of the very similar, but higher performing, Category 5 cable standard. Since the early 2000s most new structured cable installations are built with Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable.
Cat 3 is currently still in use in two-line telephone systems. It may be used for 10BASE-T Ethernet, token ring, or ATM25 networks. The seldom used 100BASE-T4 standard, which achieves speeds of 100 Mbit/s by using all 4 pairs of wires, allowed older Cat 3 based infrastructures to achieve a much higher bandwidth.
Cat 3 is compatible with the original Power over Ethernet specification though it does not support the new 802.3at Type 2 high-power variation.
Note that unlike Cat 4 and Cat 5 cables, Cat 3 is still recognized by TIA/EIA-568-B, its defining standard.
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