What Is a Modular Connector?

Electrical connectors are a standard element of countless electrical devices and systems, serving to establish an electrical connection between parts so that circuits can be established. Depending on the type of system one is using, the signal form that is being sent, and other various factors, a number of connector types may be utilized. One common connector type that is found in computer networking, telecommunication equipment, and audio headsets is the modular connector. Originally coming about in the 1960s for use in Bell System telephone systems, the modular connector has continued to be used into the modern day with its ability to support a number of telephone and Ethernet applications.

While the term “modular connector” is the most formal way of referring to such electromechanical parts, they may also be called modular phone jacks and plugs, RJ connectors, or Western jacks and plugs. As stated before, modular connectors first surfaced in the 1960s, developed by AT&T for telephone plug-in handsets and line cords. After various patents and advancements over the following years, the modular connector officially became standardized on the national level in the United States by the Registration Interface program of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Like many other forms of connectors, modular connectors are gendered, meaning that they will have male and female components that are designed to mate with one another to ensure proper connections. Male modular connectors are typically referred to as plugs, while jacks and sockets serve as their female counterparts. Plugs also act as cable and cord terminators, while jacks are often a fixed component situated on a panel, equipment surface, or wall. While rare, telephone extension cables may have a modular plug that is connected to a jack. Male and female connector parts are also attached together through a physical connection, and a latching mechanism is in place to secure the parts together. This allows for the parts to be reliably held together without damaging contacts or other sensitive connector elements.

By looking at the name of a connector, one can often determine the maximum number of contact positions and how many installed contacts there are. These numbers are also followed by the letter P and C to represent the number of contact positions and contact amount respectively. As an example, a 6P2C connector is one that has two installed contacts and six separate positions. Many modular connectors are crimped to create their termination and using a tool will secure plug contacts into the cable conductors in a permanent fashion.

Depending on the application in question, various types of modular connectors may be used. For example, Ethernet cables will utilize Ethernet modular connectors like the 8P8C, 6P6C, or other various types. Most wired Ethernet communication systems will utilize 8P8C modular plugs as they are commonly found within Category 5e and 6 cables. As varying systems and applications take advantage of different modular connectors, it is important that you take the time to find the right fit for your needs.

When you are in the market for connector parts and components, look no further than Industrial Automation Parts. On our database, you can procure top-quality connector parts that have been sourced from top manufacturers across the globe. We take quality very seriously, choosing to only stock items from entities that we trust. Furthermore, countless offerings are subjected to rigorous quality control measures that range from visual inspections to third-party testing. If you find items of interest on our website, utilize our online RFQ service to quickly and easily request quotes for your comparisons. We are also available by phone or email as well at any time, and we would be more than happy to discuss your needs today!


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