Network I/O – Keystone Jack, Faceplate (Wall) & Surface Mount Box (SMB)


As a part of Structured Cabling, a Network Cable (Cat 5E/ Cat6 Cable) from a patch panel at the network switch end needs to be connected to a Network I/O System that comprises of keystone jack, faceplate (wall) & surface mount box (SMB). Let us take a closer look at the components involved in Network I/O Termination at the System (User) end.

Network I/O:

As per the Structured Cabling standards, Network Cables (Cat 5E/ Cat6) are not directly connected to the Network Switch ports from the Computer/ Network enabled devices. The longer network cable is permanently connected between a Network I/O Termination unit near the Computer/ Network enabled device and Network Patch Panel near the Network Switch, both of them kept inside a Network Rack.

From the Network I/O Termination unit and the Network Patch panel, smaller Patch Cords connect to the Computer/ Network enabled device & Network Switch port respectively. That’s how a complete connection is competed between the computer and network switch port.

Network I/O Termination unit consists of three major components.

1. Keystone Jack

2. Faceplate (Wall)

3. Surface Mount Box (SMB)

Keystone Jack:

Belkin Cat.6 Keystone Jack - Network Connector - RJ-45, Pack Of 10

A Keystone Jack is the main component of Network I/O as the Network Cable (Cat 5E/ Cat6 Cable) is terminated on this unit and the RJ-45 Jack of the Patch Cord (from the computer/ network device) connects to it directly.

The outer insulation cover of the Cat 5E/ Cat6 Cable is shaved off and the individual pairs of the copper strands are split. Each copper strand is placed in its appropriate place in the Keystone jack (according to the color coding indicated by the manufacturer) and they are punched down individually into the Keystone Jack, thereby forming a permanent connection for the longer network cable.

The Keystone Jack is then kept either into a faceplate and attached to a wall (if cutting and space is available inside the wall) or it is kept into a Surface Mount Box and nailed over the wall.

Have a look at a Youtube video demonstrating how to punch the Network Cable into the keystone jack and mount it into a faceplate (wall). In case you live in the United States, you can click on the above image to know the price of a set of 10 Keystone Jacks from Amazon. You can also buy it from there.

Faceplate (Wall):

Belkin 1-Position Plastic Keystone Faceplate

A Faceplate is generally used in new installations where concealed cabling is possible. The faceplate is fixed on a wall and the keystone jack is fixed in the hole (as shown in the above diagram) so that the RJ-45 jack of the keystone jack is exposed outside and the patch cord (from the computer) can be attached to it. At the other side (inside the wall) lies the inner part of the keystone jack that connects to the longer network cable.

Though one port faceplate (wall) is shown here, there are different kinds of face plates from 1-port to 6-port and more. They are also available in different colors to suit the ambiance of the location.

If you live in the United States, you can click on the above faceplate image to get to know its price from Amazon. You can also buy it from there.

Surface Mount Box (SMB):

Belkin 2 Port Unloaded Keystone Surface Mount Box

The function of the Surface Mount Box (SMB) is similar to a faceplate as the keystone jack can be inserted into it such that the RJ-45 jack is exposed from the holes, to which the patch cord can connect from the computer. The other end is already punched with the permanent (longer) Network Cat5E/ Cat6 Cable which goes to the Network Patch Panel.

But, the Surface Mount Box (SMB) is used in those installations where concealed cabling is not possible. So, these boxes are basically mounted on the wall and the cables are taken outside them using PVC casing/ capping materials instead of being run inside the wall.

There are various types of Surface Mount Boxes (SMB) like 1-Port, 2-Port (shown in the above image), 6-Port, etc. Have a look at how a keystone jack fits into an SMB / faceplate in this Youtube video, to get an idea about the same.

In case you live in the United States, you can click on the above image to know the price of a 2-Port SMB from Amazon. You can also buy it from there.

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