Network Cabling
Network Cabling

The Differences Between CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6 and CAT6a Cables

What do these designations mean? “Cat” is the abbreviation for “category” relating to the various network cables that are available to you, should you want to implement network cabling. Not all Ethernet cable is created equally. Any of these network cables (CAT5, CAT5e or CAT6) will be able to provide you with a network connection, but distinguishing which one is the correct one for you is important. CAT cable is a twisted pair cable used for carrying signals.

CAT5 cable is used for computer networks as Ethernet in structured cabling. It can handle connection speeds of 10/100 Mbps, classifying it as fast Ethernet, and has a bandwidth of a frequency up to 100 MHz. CAT5e, also known as CAT5 enhanced, is the most commonly used network cable when it comes to new installations. It is used to reduce crosstalk on quite a large scale. Crosstalk refers to signals on different channels that interfere with each other. CAT5e can handle 1000 Mbps speeds, classifying it as Gigabit Ethernet, at a frequency of 100 MHz.

CAT6 is suitable for up to 10 gigabit Ethernet at a frequency of 250 MHz. CAT6 reaches speeds of 10 Gbps over 33-55 metres of cable. CAT6 is equipped with an internal separator to better-isolate the issue of crosstalk. The “a” in CAT6a represents “augmented” which indicates the improvement in specifications from CAT6 cable. CAT6a also reaches speeds up to 10 Gbps over 100 metres of cable. It also reaches a frequency up to 500 MHz. Data transmission bandwidth is doubled from 250 MHz to 500 MHz from CAT6 to CAT6a cable. Greater reliability and transmission speeds are provided by CAT6a cable. Often, CAT6a cables are shielded, unlike most CAT6 cables, which makes them ideal for use in industrial environments.