Cable Colors and Purpose

  • I've been doing some work with some big businesses and so far I've learned yellow is internet and blue is phone.

    Is this a standard or is this just a personal chose? Do colors mean different tasks?

    Hi Frank, the color of the cabling jacket has no industry-wide requirements; the decision about which color is local to the facility / company. We use blue in our DC for the backup ethernet connection and white for the primary.

    in my environment - depending on the floor and room, you have totally different schemes! The only thing that's standardized is the order you crimp the 4 pairs of wires....imagine if that was a free-for-all

    The entire DoD uses cabling colors that match up with classification levels. Blue - Unclassified, Red - Secret, Yellow - Top Secret, etc.

    Did any answer help you? if so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer.

    Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can post and accept your own answer.

  • Contrary to popular belief, there are cable color standards defined, just hardly anyone (myself included) follow them closely or at all. Check local jurisdictions for variants.

    ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings or the updated ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-B documents these standards. Generally, anyone who wants to following building standards should be familiar with BICSI and vendors who are BICSI certified would be familiar with these as well.

    Cable colors are specified using Pantone numbers. These colors or their equivalent are to be used.


    Source/PDF on

    Other color coded references for TIA/EIA 606 and other standards can be found at

    My understanding is that the EIA color codes are only a recommendation... I am curious, do you know whether the image is licensed for reproduction?

    @Mike Pennington: The standards are optional, but exist nonetheless for those that want to use them. I'm seeking permission for the use of the color code table from the owner.

    As with anything cable-related, the local jurisdiction has final say. We had a cable color standard, including the red for phone systems, but some local jurisdictions reserve that for lifeline services. We didn't discover it on one job until the cable had already been run.

    Regarding image licensing, the image is now a self-created one.

  • As far as I know there is no standard for colors in twisted pair ethernet pigtails. As Mike already explained, color codes are local to the facility and different facilities could use different color codes.

    Regarding optical fiber pigtails, there is a standard color code for them. SMF pigtails are yellow and MMF are blue or orange depending on its core diameter.

    You have further details optical fiber cable colors in the following link:

  • The colors for RJ45 cables are not specified. You can get any color you want. In the DC we color-code length:

    • 0,5m yellow
    • 1,0m white
    • 2,0m blue
    • ...
    • Everything >20m white again

    In the office we use black cables for all equipment as it doesn't stick out. (Bright orange/red in a snazzy conference room doesn't look too good IMHO.)

    For optical cables most of the time you've got yellow for SM cables, orange for MM cables. Sometimes MM cables come in aqua when they have 50µm laser-optimized cores.

    Please beware: This is not always the case. I've seen enough yellow MM cables and orange SM cables to always check the print on the cable. MM is often orange whatever the core size is.

    Also, the standard colors for connectors are blue for PC/UPC (0°) and green for APC (8°) connectors on SM cables. Again, this is for most of the cables, not all of them. Better check before connecting.

    More information on Wikipedia:

  • The biggest thing I would use different colored cables for is to differentiate the importance of the cable. This way crucial cables between switches, routers, and other important devices are noted to prevent accidentally causing outages in your network. A new employee, contractor, or regular employee can quickly learn the coloring scheme. Sometimes it does get confusing when all the cables are the same color! If you can follow a standard provided in the other answers, that would be great. But not everyone can change all their cables in their existing infrastructure.

  • Personal/local choice.
    Red is typically reserved for fire alarm. Yellow thick BANANA cables contain multiple pairs of different AWG to support access control system door locks, motion sensors, and badge readers. Purple/violet is another common color for BANANA cables.

    Color uniformity degrades over time, such as when a technician only has a yellow patch cable when a blue one is the standard. After several years you'll have as many colors in your Telco Closets, racks and Technical Equipment Rooms (TERs) as a LGBTQIA+ gay pride parade.

    If you're doing Outside Plant (OSP) work for big businesses the American Public Works Association Utility Color Code Marking is

    • Red electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables
    • Orange telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit
    • Yellow natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or other gaseous or flammable material
    • Green sewers and drain lines
    • Blue drinking water
    • Purple reclaimed water, irrigation, and slurry lines
    • Pink temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities
    • White proposed excavation limits or route

    If you're an IT person you want the Orange stuff. If your work stinks, use yellow or green.

    Personally, I call Miss Utility and let the random operator at 811 chose project colors. Her answer is as good an answer as from anybody else.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM