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Randy The Tech Professor

February 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Do You Have Cable Confusion?

Hello everyone,

Even though I call myself “The Tech Professor”, I must admit that the different categories of Ethernet Cable have me scratching my head! Some will enjoy the “geek speak” definitions that follow, but many will get more out of the great video by CNET’s Tom Merritt. Either way: confusion no more! Enjoy!!

Types Of Ethernet Cable:

1) Cat 5: Currently unrecognized by TIA/EIA (Telecommunications Industry Association/
Electronic Industries Alliance). Defined up to 100 MHz, and was frequently used on 100 Mbit/s Ethernet networks. May be unsuitable for 1000BASE-T gigabit Ethernet.

2) Cat 5e: Category 5 has been superseded by the Category 5e specification structured cabling for computer networks such as Ethernet, and is also used to carry many other signals such as basic voice services, token ring, and ATM. Currently defined in TIA/EIA-568-B. Defined up to 100 MHz, and is frequently used for both 100 Mbit/s (up to 155 Mbit/s, over short distances) and 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet networks.

3) Cat 6: Compared with Cat-5 and Cat-5e, Cat-6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. Currently defined in TIA/EIA-568-B. Defined up to 250 MHz, more than double that of category 5 and 5e. Cat 6 is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T / 1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet) and 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet).

Professor Randy says: If you do any kind of networking your going to need stranded wire patch cables (Ethernet) sooner or later. Get to know and understand the different categories, eliminate any confusion, and you’ll setup a great network!!

  • Brad Booth
    10:45 am on February 11th, 2010 1

    Category 6 cabling can only be used with 10GBASE-T if the cabling complies with TSB-155. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) will have a limited reach on Cat 6 cabling. The UTP cable recommended for 10GBASE-T is Cat 6A, which is an augmented version of Cat 6 specified over the necessary frequency range to handle 10GBASE-T plus with further improvements impedance and crosstalk immunity.

    Shielded twisted pair (STP or FTP) versions of Cat 6, Cat 6A and Cat 7 (also known as ISO 11801 Class F) are less susceptible to crosstalk and alien crosstalk and therefore are better equipped to handle 10GBASE-T.


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