How to Select the Right Serial Cables for Your Network?

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One of the most complicated parts of setting up a router is the selection of the serial cables to connect the router to the serial devices in your network. There are many different serial cables with seemingly similar features, and finding the correct cable can be a challenge.

The information that follows will quickly and easily guide you through the process of selecting the right serial cables for your network.

Selecting the proper serial cable is as easy as knowing the answers to three questions:

Is the router being connected to a DTE or DCE device?

What signaling standard does the device require?

Is a male or female connector required on the cable?

With the answers to these questions, and the model of your router, you can read the part number of the cable required from Table 330.


Devices that communicate over a serial interface are divided into two modes: data terminal equipment (DTE) and data communications equipment (DCE). The most important difference between these types of devices is that the DCE device supplies the clock signal that paces the communications on the bus. The documentation that came with the device should indicate whether it is DTE or DCE (some devices have a jumper to select either mode). If you cannot find the information in the documentation, use Table 329 to help you select the proper class.

Table 329 DTE or DCE Determination


DTE                  DCE            Selectable DTE or DCE1

Device            Terminals                Modems               Hubs

CSU/DSU              Routers


Gender             Male                  Female                   Either

1. Selectable devices usually have a jumper, switch, or software command used to select DTE or DCE.

Note The cable itself identifies the Cisco router as a DTE or DCE device to other devices in the network; for this reason, it is important to select the correct product number from Table 330.

Cable Gender

If pins protrude from the base of the connector, the plug is male. If the connector has holes to accept the pins, the receptacle is female. Refer to Figure 157 to identify the connector you need.

More Cisco Console Cable Tips:

Cisco Console Cables, Popular Types You Used

Ethernet Crossover Cable vs Ethernet LAN Cable

How to Connect a Router/Switch Through the Console Port?

How to Wire an RJ-45 Console Cable

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