Need to Upgrade your Cat5 or Cat5e to a Better more Reliable cable ( Cat6 )?
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Cat5 & Cat5e Category 5 cable is a twisted pair high signal integrity cable type often referred to as Cat5 or Cat-5. Most Category-5 cables are unshielded, relying on the twisted pair design for noise rejection. Some, however, are shielded. Category 5 has been superseded by the Category 5e specification structured cabling for computer networks such as Ethernet, and is also used to carry many other signals such as basic voice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 (at up to 155 Mbit/s, over short distances).
The specification for Category 5 cable was defined in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A, with clarification in TSB-95. These documents specified performance characteristics and test requirements for frequencies of up to 100 MHz.
Category 5 cable includes twisted pairs in a single cable jacket. This use of balanced lines helps preserve a high signal-to-noise ratio despite interference from both external sources and other pairs (this latter form of interference is called crosstalk). It is most commonly used for 100 Mbit/s networks, such as 100BASE-TX Ethernet, although IEEE 802.3ab defines standards for 1000BASE-T – Gigabit Ethernet over category 5 cable. Each of the four pairs in a Cat 5 cable has a differing precise number of twists per meter based on prime numbers to minimize crosstalk between the pairs. On average there are 6 twists per 5 centimeters. The pairs are made from 24 gauge (AWG) copper wires within the cables.
Category 6 cable, commonly referred to as Cat-6, is a cable standard for Gigabit Ethernet and other network protocols that are backward compatible with the Category 5/5eand Category 3 cable standards. Compared with Cat-5 and Cat-5e, Cat-6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. The cable standard provides performance of up to 250 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T / 1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet) and 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet). Category 6 cable has a reduced maximum length when used for 10GBASE-T; Category 6a cable, or Augmented Category 6, is characterized to 500 MHz and has improved alien crosstalk characteristics, allowing 10GBASE-T to be run for the same distance as previous protocols. Category 6 cable can be identified by the printing on the side of the cable sheath.
Like most earlier cables, Category 6 cable contains four twisted wire pairs. Although it is sometimes made with 23 AWG wire, the increase in performance with Cat-6 comes mainly from better insulation; 22 to 24 AWG copper is allowed so long as the ANSI/TIA-568-B.2-1 performance specifications are met. Cat-6 patch cables are normally terminated in 8P8C (often incorrectly called RJ-45) modular connectors. Attenuation, NEXT (near end crosstalk), and PSNEXT (power sum NEXT) in Cat-6 cable and connectors are all significantly lower than Cat-5/5e, which also uses 24 AWG wire.
The heavier insulation in some Cat-6 cables make them too thick to attach to 8P8C connectors without a special modular piece; they are technically not standards compliant.
Connectors use either T568A or T568B pin assignments; the choice is arbitrary provided both ends of a cable are the same. Both schemes use straight-through wiring (pin 1 to 1, pin 2 to 2, etc) and the same pairing (pins 1&2, 3&6, 4&5, 7&8). Only the wire colors differ, and this does not matter outside the cable. This makes T568A and T568B patch cords interchangeable, with T568B being the most common.
If Cat-6 rated patch cables, jacks, and connectors are not used with Cat-6 wiring, overall performance is degraded to that of the cable or connector. Because the conductor sizes are generally the same, Cat-6 jacks may also be used with Cat-5e cable.
Because all 1000BASE-T (gigabit Ethernet) equipment and nearly all new 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX equipment supports automatic crossover (auto-MDIX), Cat-6 crossover cables are rare. Crossover cables are needed only between 10/100 Mb/s hosts or switches where some endpoint does not support auto-MDIX; otherwise Cat-5 is sufficient for these slower speeds.
On another note read...
The 350 MHz term started a couple of years before the arrival of Category 6 cable by the Belden Electronics Division and promised better performance. Although the performance of this new 350 MHz cable was slightly better it was an easy way to sell the consumer on future proofing their needs while charging around 15% more and leading to a higher margin on the 350 MHz cable than the standard 5e cable. Soon after many other manufactures also offered a 350 MHz cable and followed the trend of an easy way to add to a higher margin. Some low-end cable manufacturers have the term “tested to 350 MHz” printed on the jacket as a way to appear to the consumer that they are receiving a better quality of 5e cable, but the cable was only “tested to 350 MHz” and no promise of a performance guarantee is ever mentioned.
As the 350 cable and term gained momentum, many manufacturers began offering a 400 MHz 5e cable, a 550 MHz 5e cable, and so on. This led to the consumer and communications contractor assuming and leaving them confused that the higher a MHz rating meant for a better performing cable. The arrival of the Category 6 cable standard which specified a delivered performance at 250 MHz left many people confused.
EIA Electronic Industries Alliance / TIA Telecommunications Industry Association only recognize the Category 5e standard TIA/EIA-568-B.2-2001 as guaranteeing performance of attenuation, NEXT, Power-sum NEXT, ACR, power-sum ACR, ELFEXT, power-sum ELFEXT, return loss, propagation delay and delay skew at 100 MHz. No standard is issued for 350 MHz cable and review of manufacturer spec sheets such as General Cable, Superior Essex, and Berktekshow us different performance numbers for 350 MHz. With no standard for 350 MHz cable, promised performance, if any, will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and leave the consumer and contractor to continue to be confused.