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What Is a Network Coupler?

Paul Scott
Paul Scott

A network coupler is a passive coupling device used to join computer network cables. They are generally designed for use on CAT5 or CAT5E twisted pair cables terminated with RJ45 plugs. In most cases, the network coupler is a relatively simple device consisting of a pair of RJ45 sockets placed back-to-back in a plastic or light-gauge metal casing. The two sockets are interconnected internally using wire bridges or a printed circuit board (PCB), so, when two separate cables are plugged into either end of the coupler, continuity is created between them. Certain types of couplers are designed to be used as part of the modular keystone outlet system by including locking clips on the coupler casing that secure the coupler into the keystone blanking plates.

Computer networks more often than not rely on large numbers of lengthy cable runs for their data distribution. At some point, it is inevitable that cables, particularly patch cables running from wall outlets to individual consumer points, will not be long enough, requiring the joining of two or more lengths. One of the most convenient and cost effective ways of making these joints is the network coupler. Cheap, sleek, and effective, the network coupler is quick to use and easily fits into most existing trunking or through desk and partition cable ports.

Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.
Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.

Most network cabling is made up of twisted pair CAT5 or CAT5E cables with the RJ45 plug as the de facto termination device. To join these cables, the network coupler features a pair of RJ45 sockets co-located within a light gauge metal or molded plastic case. The two sockets are typically mounted in a back-to-back configuration, making linear cable runs easier to arrange. The individual sockets are interconnected in accordance with relevant wiring scheme standards using wire bridges or a printed circuit board.

To join two network cables, one end of each is simply plugged into either socket of the network coupler. The internal connections between the two sockets then ensure continuity between the two cables. Certain types of coupler are specifically designed to double as inserts used in the keystone modular outlet system. This system uses a standardized set of blank wall plates featuring cut-outs into which different outlet sockets are clipped as needed. This type of network coupler will feature a casing sized according to the keystone standard and a set of flexible clips on its sides which lock behind the blanking plate.

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    • Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.
      Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.