From connecting our computer network to distributing video and TV signals, we rely on category cables, i.e. Cat cables for almost everything. And with technological advancements in a short time, Cat cable has become a preferred option over traditional coaxial cables. But, a confusion still pertains as to which category cable is the best suitable; when it comes to industrial and commercial network design and data cable installation.
Although the 3 categories – CAT5E, CAT6 and CAT6A look the same, they are different in terms of price and performance. Let us delve into the differences and determine which category to choose according to needs and why.
CAT5E unveiled in 2001 and is an updated version of Category 5 cabling. Fifteen years back, category 5 cabling was in demand when the purpose was to support hardware networking. And it had the potential capacity speed of 1 gigabit. Over the time, when hardware prices started to decrease, CAT 5 became obsolete. And Cat5e became the minimum data cable standard needed.
Their special design makeover helps in reducing crosstalk, i.e. the undesired signal interference between data channels/wires. And thereby produces 1 gigabit network at a distance up to 328 feet. Furthermore, the ‘E’ in Cat5E cables stands for ‘Enhanced’. And it was in the late 2000s when CAT5E started to render utility in order to run workstations and CAT6 emerged.
CAT6 cables came into existence a year later after CAT5E cables. They represent improvement in overall transmission performance and are therefore are known as the backbone of all networks from router to switches. Its frequency has increased up to 500Hz with the ability to reach the speed of 10 gigabit network limited to 164 feet.
And, how can we forget to mention about its make-over? It contains 23-24 gauge twisted pair wires with 2+ twisted pair centimeters. In addition, the internal nylon spline and the thick exterior sheath aids in increasing the crosstalk potentiality.
The placement of ‘A’ in CAT6A cables stands for the word ‘Augmented’. And this cable is known as the most advanced version of all data cables. We assume that it takes a lead towards a future where 10G network will be known as a common standard. With makeover that contains 23 gauge, it is known to be thicker than CAT5E and CAT 6 cables. Additionally, it is the presence of more copper per inch that makes it the thickest of all.
And this extra copper per inch is partly due to extra thick plastic around the wires and partly due to tighter winding of the pairs. It has a speed of 10 gigabit per second for a full distance of 328 feet with a doubled frequency reaching to 500 MHz. This all leads not only to the improvement of its range but also helps in further reducing cross talk and delay in cables. Thereby, making it the most expensive of all cable options.
All this said and done, which one to choose?
From the above information, one can come to a conclusion that Cat 5E is adequate for a small cloud-based network but it would not be able to support network demands in the future. Again, it differs from one case to another. It depends upon your business or industry needs for design and utility.
Cat6 and 6A are future proof network. They have greater utility in terms of faster data speed, greater range and reduced cross talk. One can enjoy this greater utility provided they have a gigabit compatible router and computer. This is because, there is difference in internet speed and data speed. So, how much ever of upgradation you do in your data cable, it won’t have any impact on the internet speed. Rather, it will bring improvement in data transfer, upload, and download.
Now, the choice of cables is all yours. If you aren’t future oriented and your business carries server based work, CAT5E is perfectly fine for you. But if you have higher demands for speed and downloading files and applications foreseeing the future, you should go for CAT 6 or 6A. For any further queries regarding the same, feel free to talk to us. We’ll be happy to find the right solution for your business networking needs. Wish you all the best for your electronic endeavors!