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Category Cable and What It Means To You

What is Category 5?

Category 5 cable performs at the transmission frequency of 100 megahertz. The structure comprises of twisted pair conductors which are primarily utilized in data transmission. The above described frequency imbibes the cable with a rated line speed of up to 100Mbits/Sec. Most of the category 5 cables that are present today were initially meant for replacing the older Cat3 networks. Category 5 cables still hold the majority throne for constituting the word’s network cabling infrastructure. These cables have a segment length of 100 meters maximum. However, after assembly, the usable length is usually cut down to 90 meters.

What does Category 5 mean to you?

CAT5 cable is the most basic of the major cable types. It is just a step above the now desolate CAT3 cable. However, this type of cable is most commonly used and thus can be found in the majority of networks and workstations worldwide.

What is Category 5e?

CAT5e cable stands for Enhanced Category 5 cable. This type of cable has tighter and stricter specifications for PS-ELFEXT, NEXT, attenuation and Return Loss (RL) that that of your regular category 5 cable. Just like its category 5 predecessor, CAT5e cables also have a transmission frequency of 100 megahertz. The difference lies in the variant capability of a category 5e cable to handle higher bandwidth that the traditional category 5 cable. The major improvement displayed in the enhanced version of the CAT5 cable was in the noise reduction. By reducing the signal interference and noise, category 5e cable’s rated transfer speeds peaked to 350Mbit/Sec over the same limited 100 meters. Category 5e cables demanded the structural addition of four twisted pairs. This was a striking contrast to the two twisted pair setup that was used up until then. Furthermore, all of the eight contacts had to be compulsorily used. The encoding scheme underwent an overhaul and was optimized. This advancement allows up to 50 meters of the CAT5e cable to provide nearly Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

What does Category 5e mean to you?

Cat5e has 100 ohms impedance. It also has other electrical characteristics that enable it to transmit at frequencies of 100 MHz. CAT5 and CAT5e differ in almost every aspect when it comes down to the performance of the cable like attenuation, capacity, resistance, and frequency. The components of the CAT5e were custom tailored to support high speed Ethernet.

What is Category 6?

CAT6 or category 6 cable empowers the user with a higher performance that the CAT5e cable. At the same time the CAT6 cable portrays more stringent specifications for system noise as well as crosstalk. The quality of the CAT6 data transmission depends on several factors. They can be broadly categorized under the performance of the various components of the channel. Jacks, patch panels, cross-connects, patch cables and cabling must all adhere to the CAT6 standards. All these components are first checked individually and then tested together to monitor the performance. All CAT6 components should be backward compatible with CAT3, CAT5 and CAT5e. If predecessor components are used with CAT6 components then the performance of the previous grade will be established. For example, if CAT5 jacks are used with CAT6 cable then the user will experience the channel performance of a CAT5 level.

What does Category 6 mean to you?

Cat6 are manufactured with separators that will enable and enhance improved crosstalk and better 23 gauge conductor wires in contrast to the smaller Cat5e 24 gauge ones. As has been pointed out earlier, the components of CAT5e cable work with Gigabit Ethernet. But the quality served will not be of the highest value. This is where the CAT6 cables come in. So if 1000 Mbps switch is under question, CAT6 cables will serve you better than the CAT5e cables.

What is Category 6e?

Earlier versions of the Ethernet cabling allowed the usage of 10 Gigabit prowess with the serious limitation of the 50 meter length segmentation. The Enhanced Category 6 cable was released to take down and counter this problem. This new enhanced version is labeled with a specification which is designed for double transmission frequencies than that of the CAT6 to almost 500 MHz. Cat6e also flaunts the more turns per twist just like the CAT6. But in addition to that the CAT6e is equipped with a wrapped CAT6 in ground foil shielding. Thus, the CAT6e can provide the end-user with 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds. These can be accomplished without the need for sacrificing on the maximum traditional cable length of 100 meters.

What does Category 6e mean to you?

As was mentioned above, the CAT6e cable takes the distance limitation out of the equation. This cuts down the cost of the setup and at the same time leads to a lot less hassle.

What is Category 6a?

CAT6a stands for Augmented Category 6 Cable. This category of cabling is a 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper proposal to the standards of the previous CAT6 cabling. Specifications suggest the minimum frequency of the CAT6a cable to be backed at 500MHz. This stands true for both the shielded as well as the non shielded variants. The basic potential of a CAT6a cable lies within its proposed ability to power the future 10 gigabit per second applications to the maximum distance of 100 meters on a 4 connector channel. Category 6 augmented cabling is being used throughout various types of networks across the globe. However, strict standards and specifications are yet to be laid down for the type of cabling.

What does Category 6a mean to you?

CAT6a has a higher transmission frequency than the CAT6 cables. At the same time the transmission frequencies of this cable are equal to the CAT6e variant, capped at 500 MHz. However, the CAT6a cable gains an upper hand over its rival in terms of crosstalk.