Outside Phone Wire: PE Style phone cable

There are many different constructions for outside phone cable. This article is used to explain the most popular styles as well as help identify the correct outside plant cable for your application.

1. REA Specification PE -22 – PE 22 is an aerial and duct outside plant copper phone cable. PE-22 uses a solid polyolefin colored insulated, single jacketed aircore design that is manufactured in 26, 24, 22 and 19 AWG. It has an 8-mil* aluminum tape shield applied longitudinally over the core wrap. The outer jacket is a sunlight resistant black polyethylene that is very rugged. PE-22 is manufactured from 6 pairs to 3000 pairs. PE-22 does not contain a supporting messenger in the construction therefore it would require one to be used in an aerial application.

2. REA Specification PE-38 – PE 38 is also an aerial outside plant phone. The key difference between PE-38 and PE-22 is that the PE-38 has a built in support member specifically for aerial applications. The figure 8 configuration is a parallel construction with the actual pairs of cable zipped to ¼ inch, seven strand extra high strength galvanized steel messenger. The supporting messenger is an integral part of the cables sheath yet readily available for gripping, pulling and tensioning.

3. REA Specification PE-89 – PE-89 is designed for duct or direct burial applications. This cable utilizes a dual insulation with a layer of foamed, natural polyolefin cover by an outer layer of solid, color coded polyolefin. The standard construction has an 8 mil aluminum shield with the low density polyethylene jacket. Offered in 19, 22, 24 and 26 AWG from 6 pair to 3600 pair.

4. REA Specification PE-39 – PE 39 is also a direct burial outside plant phone cable. The key difference between PE-89 and PE-39 is PE-39 only is insulated with a solid layer of polyolefin. Typically, PE-39 is slightly more expensive than PE-89 but in the vast majority of applications they are interchangeable.  PE-39 rodent resistance outside plant phone cable is used in direct burial applications where rodents or gopher resistance is needed.

5. REA Specification PE-86 – PE-86 is a double jacketed direct burial outside plant phone cable that is available in smaller pair counts such as 2 and 3 pair which are not available in PE-39 or PE-89.

It is worth noting that the direct burial phone cables are offered in rodent/gopher resistant constructions. This is done by adding a copper alloy or copper clad steel tape to the constructions usually about 5 mils thick. The rodents do not like to bite into the copper therefore it is a good value for anyone installing outside plant phone cable where there possibly is a rodent problem to avoid damage to the cable.

The key to identifying the required outside plant phone cable for a job is to find out the type of shielding (copper or aluminum), the insulation type (solid or foam), the application (aerial, duct or direct burial), the size (19,22,24, or 26) and the total number of pairs needed. Remember to find out in your aerial application if you need a support messenger, and in your direct burial application if you need special rodent or gopher protection.

*Note: A mil is a unit of measurement that is approximately equal to the width of a single sheet of paper.