With increasing requirements for transfers of large volumes of data, a number of businesses are shifting to the Category 6 cable which incidentally is the sixth generation cabling standard for Gigabit Ethernet. It retains compatibility with the earlier standards like Cat 3 and Cat 5/5e. This standard is defined by EIA/TIA - Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association. It provides more stringent specifications for system noise and crosstalk. Cat 6 cable can handle frequencies of up to 250 MHz. It is suited for 10BASE-T / 100BASE-TX and even 1000BASE-T (i. e Gigabit Ethernet).
The Cat 6 cables mainly have two variants. They either have a stranded or a solid core. Stranded cables are flexible and suitable for short distances For example for temporary or movable cabling. Solid cables can work with longer distances. For example for fixed wiring configurations like office buildings.
It has a set of 4 twisted pair copper wires which are insulated by an outer jacket. These 24-gauge copper wires are similar to the previous network cabling standards. The main difference between Cat 5/5e and Cat 6 is in terms of transmission performance and extension of available bandwidth from 100 MHZ to 200 Mhz. In comparison to Cat 5/5e standards Cat 6 has a better performance, as crosstalk and attenuation is significantly lower.
The improvements in Cat 6 in terms of near end crosstalk (NEXT), better insertion loss, return loss lead to a high signal-to-noise ratio. Hence with greater immunity from external noise and improved transmission performance a system using Cat 6 cable will be prone to fewer errors as compare to Cat5e. Thus it provides greater reliability for current applications (with fewer re-transmissions of lost data) and high data rates for applications of the future. It is expected to support 10 gigabit Ethernet standards, with some limitations on the acceptable length. It is recommended across short distances that run for maximum 100 m in length.
If you are wondering which cable you should use for your network, Cat6 is a good choice even though they are expensive. Cables usually last for around 10 years and support 4-5 generation of equipments in their lifetime. It would be too expensive to replace your Cat 5e cables inside walls, under floors and other places if in future you need better performance cables like Cat 6 to support higher data rates.
Hence it is always wise to invest a little more during installation than go through hassles in the future. In fact most of the new installations today are cabled using Cat 6 cables. Also since Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 5e, it is easy to supersede Cat 5e in the current networks. All applications that ran over Cat 5e can work on Cat 6 too.
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Server Racks and Cable Inc. provides both Cat 5e and Cat 6 to Fortune 500 companies, governments, and military agencies.