Several different data cables floating in front of a digital graphic

Copper-based data cabling Reliable data transmission with proven technology

In many fields of application, whether infrastructure, buildings, or industry, the focus is on process automation. More devices are being integrated into networks all the time. Cabling is becoming more and more complex due to increasing data volumes and growing transmission speeds. Copper-based data cabling has proven its worth for decades.

Increasing data rates and transmission speeds present ever greater challenges for transmission technology and thus also for transmission cables and the connected connectors. Future-proof developments and products are required. Otherwise, reliable data transmission is not possible. In home applications, the problems that occur are usually tolerable. However, faulty transmissions in industrial applications can lead to high costs. Due to their good physical and mechanical properties, copper cables ensure reliable connections for data transmission.


  • Cost-optimized data transmission based on years of experience
  • Reliable protection against data theft: no data tapping possible via the cable
  • Standardized interfaces such as RJ45, USB, HDMI, coaxial, and D-SUB connectors as well as circular connectors in M8 and M12 format
  • Optimum electrical properties with solid copper conductors
  • High level of expertise through development and in-house production
Copper-based data connectors with cables fanned out next to each other

Copper conductors in application

Why copper conductors? – Copper cables use different technologies to transmit current and voltage for the device supply with power and data. Copper has optimal properties for the transmission of electrical energy. Alternative materials such as aluminum are also sometimes used in inexpensive conductors, but they offer a much lower level of performance – around two thirds of the electrical conductivity in the case of aluminum.

A wide range of copper cables are available on the market, which means that the optimum cable with connectors is available for almost every application with a specific protocol. D-SUB connectors for the VGA connection of monitors to a PC are just one example. In industry, on the other hand, the PROFINET protocol is widely used. This is often transmitted via RJ45 connectors in two-pair or four-pair twisted pair cables.

The development of the technology is already very advanced, yet further innovations are available on the market. A good example is Single Pair Ethernet, the transmission of Ethernet protocols via just one pair of wires. For this new technology, brand-new cables and connectors are being designed, which will then be standardized. This promotes the standardization of interfaces.

Copper-based data cables in RJ45, Single Pair Ethernet, and M8 format

How are copper-based data cables constructed?

A distinction is generally made between two types of copper-based data cables:

  • Coaxial cables, where one conductor is centrally routed within the cable.

  • Stranded cables, in which several conductors are routed in one cable and are twisted together. They are either twisted around a central filler element – as is the case with many four-pos. cables – or the wires of one pair are twisted together and the wire pairs are then twisted together – as is the case with many eight-pos. cables. The latter type is called twisted pair (TP).

There are also other combinations of these basic constructions, as in the case of cables that support the hybrid transmission of data and power, for example.

Copper cables with various measuring devices in a high-voltage test

What is the performance of copper cables?

The performance of a copper-based data cable as a raw cable is indicated by the transmission category. To explain the differences between the categories and the test methods, it is also worth taking a look at the Ethernet protocol here.

Raw cables are defined by their own standards. These standards also specify test methods as well as electrical limit values for the parameters to be tested. The return loss is an example of one of the parameters to be tested. This value measures the signal reflected by the cable at the transmitter end. However, the limit values that must be observed differ greatly depending on whether a raw cable, a cable assembled with connectors (patch cable measurement – permanent link test – ISO 11801), or an entire transmission path (channel test – ISO 11801) is being measured.

Test engineer with a copper-based cable and measurement setup

At this point, the assembled cable must meet the strict values, as it represents just one part of a transmission path. Limit values for transmission paths are accordingly less strict, so parts that are weaker as a result of aging or other effects can be compensated. In order to minimize the influences of the measuring device, the first and the last connection are hidden during channel measurement. If a patch cable is measured with a channel test for the transmission path, this measurement thus has no informative value, since the two connectors of the cable are hidden.

Which measurement method is used can be determined by looking at the data sheet and the transmission properties of a patch cable. Cables with a channel test must be specified with the transmission class, whereas cables with a permanent link test must be specified with the transmission category. Unfortunately, this cannot always be verified by testing the cables, so caution is advised when selecting the right cable.

Finally, the focus should be on the approval of an RJ45 patch cable in the same way this is done at Phoenix Contact:

  1. Raw cable test 100 m followed by
  2. Assembly of 2-meter patch cables* with two RJ45 connectors
  3. Permanent link (not channel link) patch cable test followed by
  4. Approval of the connector and cable combination only upon successful completion of all tests
  • In Phoenix Contact’s experience, two meters represents the most critical length for patch cables in accordance with current standards.
Copper-based data connector being assembled with both hands for RJ45

Copper-based solutions for field cabling

Whether for use directly on your machine, in buildings, or even outdoors, the connection solutions are the perfect choice in any environment. Your application can benefit from these product features:

• Transmission speeds up to 10 Gbps
• Innovative hybrid cabling
• Solutions from IP20 to IP69K
• Spring, pierce, and IDC connection
• 360° shielding concepts

Copper-based data connectors for network and fieldbus connection

Copped-based solutions for device connection

Use high-performance connectors and cables designed for assembly on site in your device. Whether future-proof high-speed cabling with up to 10 Gbps or innovative hybrid cabling: Phoenix Contact offers you a comprehensive product range featuring various pin connector patterns for different transmission properties – from SPE, RJ45, HDMI, USB, coaxial connectors for printed circuit boards and M12 panel feed-throughs to D-SUB connectors.

• Transmission speeds up to 10 Gbps
• Innovative hybrid cabling
• Solutions from IP20 to IP69K
• Spring, pierce, and IDC connection
• 360° shielding concepts

Ideally suited for these industries

Copper conductors are also used in measurement, communications, and automation technology, data processing, and in controllers in machine building and systems manufacturing. They also come into play for server-to-switch and desktop-to-switch connections.

E-paper on data connectors
Copper-based data connectors at a glance
Would you like to browse through our copper-based range? – The e-paper on data connectors also provides an overview of the corresponding connections for you.
Open the e-paper
Different data connectors at a glance