Now that direct connect (MPTL configuration) is recognized by industry standards, deciding on the right plug for your device is crucial to ensure reliability. Choose the wrong plug and you may not achieve the performance levels you are hoping for.

Let’s go over your options…

Modular Plugs

Crimp-on modular plugs are well-known and frequently used to terminate cables.

Created in a factory, they’re designed and manufactured to terminate a specific cable, which allows the modular plug to maintain the highest performance level possible. During the manufacturing process, the plug’s contacts are also crimped into place using automated factory equipment and precision-made fixtures that ensure reliability.

In addition to the type of cable it terminates, performance of a crimp-on modular plug also depends on how the wires are laid out inside the plug itself. If the wires are installed in parallel, for example, near-end crosstalk (NEXT) is heightened in the plug because the inherent capacitance and inductance coupling that exists between the two lines results in unwanted noise (or crosstalk).

As you move from Category 5e to Category 6 and then to Category 6A cable, parallel wire runs aren’t used as often. Instead, separation and spacing are added between the wires to reduce crosstalk and improve performance.

Normally, to manage crosstalk, cable twists are kept as tight as possible up until the connection point. But threading those twists into a plug isn’t possible. For this reason, in higher types of category cable, you start to see additional components added to adjust the location of the cable twist.

Field-Installable Plugs

Field-installable plugs – another option to terminate cable – are a different story. Although they provide an alternative to a modular plug and can be counted on to perform at specified performance levels in the field (they maintain tight cable twists up to termination points), they only do so as long as they’re designed for the cabling they will be installed on.

Performance issues occur when a field-installable plug is used on just any cable. Why? Because its performance becomes unknown when you use it for a cable it wasn’t designed to be compatible with.

To terminate a field-installable plug, a field crimp tool is used. Oftentimes, these tools don’t have consistent pressure or the right die-cutting size to make sure contacts are placed into the correct locations.

Choosing Between the Two: Modular or Field-Installable Plugs?

So which option should you consider – a crimp-on modular plug or field-installable plug – and why?

Good news! There’s a solution that gives you the benefits of both: the ease of use that comes with a crimp-on modular plug and the performance characteristics of a field-installable plug.

Belden’s REVConnect® core technology, used in the REVConnect Plug, de-couples cable performance from connectivity performance. Previously, the two have been reliant upon one another. In other words, REVConnect Plugs can match up to any cable without creating any performance issues.

This unique core technology is proven to be superior to modular and field-installable plugs for many reasons. But the most important feature the REVConnect Plug offers: Its PIC (piercing interface contact) straddles the copper connector and pushes it downward.

In a traditional modular plug, the PIC is intended for insertion into a stranded wire only – not a solid wire. If it’s inserted into a solid wire, it can easily wiggle its way out. That problem is avoided with a REVConnect Plug; its PIC fully encapsulates and pierces solid wire.


Let’s compare characteristics of a traditional modular plug to Belden’s REVConnect Plug.

Termination Time

  • Modular Plug: Requires t-bar assembly, wire straightening, pair separation, two cuts and a crimp.
  • REVConnect Plug: One step cuts all pairs and crimps at the same time, reducing field-termination time by 70%.


  • Modular Plug: Efficient installation that requires training and experience.
  • REVConnect Plug: Efficient installation after less than 15 minutes of training – with a 10% increase on first pass yield for less rework.


  • Modular Plug: Each plug must be designed for the horizontal cable it will be used with (one universal plug does not exist).
  • REVConnect Plug: One universal plug does exist! The REVConnect Plug is designed for termination on any horizontal cabling in configurations using direct connect (MPTL).


  • Modular Plug: Designed to be used with stranded wires only, which may result in intermittent contact with horizontal cabling.
  • REVConnect Plug: Designed for stranded or solid wires, with factory-grade mechanical tolerances on all contact interfaces.


  • Modular Plug: Wire untwisting can result in lower performance levels.
  • REVConnect Plug: Designed for the highest-possible category performance with installation variance that is nine times lower than modular plugs.

Want to learn more about which plug option will work best for you? Send us a note or post a comment below – we’ll answer your questions!