Category 6 or Cat 6 is an Ethernet cable standard defined by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). Used for Ethernet networks as their network cabling, it’s the sixth generation twisted pair cable. Cat 6 Cables are are backward compatible with Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 3 cable standards.
This cabling has to meet stricter specifications than Cat 5 and Cat 5e for system noise and crosstalk. It specifies performance up to 250 MHz, which is higher than Cat 5 and Cat 5e (up to 100 MHz).
Quality of data transmission through Cat6 cables also depends on the performance of the channel’s parts. According to the specifications of Cat 6, all patch cables, jacks, cross-connects, patch panels, and cablings must meet these standards. The channel will performe to the lowest category component of any different categories used with Cat 6 cables.
CAT6 Cable Characteristics
- It provides 250 MHz of bandwidth with GBPS speed for a distance of up to 100 metres.
- CAT6 Cables provide enhanced protection against attenuation and crosstalk when compared to its predecessors.
- It consists of four copper wire pairs, and all four pairs are utilized for transferring data.
How CAT6 Cables Work
They support data transfer rates of up to 1 Gigabit per second and can work with a maximum of 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections over a restricted distance of up to 50 metres for a single Cat 6 cable. Cables are made up of four copper wire pairs and use all these four pairs for signaling to provide high-performance standards.
The cable’s longest allowed length for 10/100/1000 BASE-T is 100 metres when these cables are used. 100m length will include 90m of horizontal cabling linking wall jack and the patch panel. There will also be 5m of stranded patch cable linking jack and the device. However, for 10GBASE-T use, the cable should not go over 55 metres.
Other Factors of CAT6 Cables
· Both ends of this cabling standard use the RJ-45 standard connector, just like other Ethernet cables.
· To find a Cat 6 cable, one can read the printed text along its insulation sheath.
· Advanced version of Cat 6 cable is called Cat 6a, which supports up to 10 Gigabits per second speed.
Different Classifications of CAT6 Cables
Cat 6 Ethernet cables can be classified into different types based on their specifications. Thus, they are classified into stranded Cat 6 and solid Cat 6 Ethernet cables because of the copper conductor in pairs.
In terms of the type of shielding, the cables can be classified into shielded cable and unshielded Cat 6 Ethernet cables. Based on cable jackets’ rating, different types of Category 6 cables available are: CM, CMP, and CMR Cat 6 Ethernet cables. The choice of the cable differs from one scenario to the other.
Where to use Stranded and Solid CAT6 Cables
Stranded cables use lots of copper wires twisted together, whereas, solid cables use a single piece of copper for the electrical conductor. Stranded cables can be used anywhere due to their flexibility. Solid cables aren’t so flexible, but are durable and can be used for outdoor and permanent installations.
Where to use CM, CMP and CMR Cables
CM cables are used for installing indoors or in a single-story building. CMP cables are plenum-rated cables which, without creating toxic gases or smoke, reduce flame spread. CMR cables are riser rated cables used to stop the fire from spreading between floors through vertical shafts or risers.
CAT6 vs. CAT5E
The history of Cat 6 design for Ethernet led to two different efforts of improving on earlier generation Cat 5 cable standards. Later called Cat 6 and the other Cat 5 enhanced or Cat 5E.
Cat 6 cables support Gigabit Ethernet data rates at a lower cost whilst Cat 5E lacks some improvements. It also uses a four-wire pair scheme to get high data transfer rates. The old version, the Cat 5 cable, contains four wire pairs, but it only uses two pairs.
As the Cat 5E cables were available sooner in the market and offered good performance at a more affordable price, these cables became a popular wiring choice for wired Ethernet. Thus, the price point and the slow transition of the industry to higher Gigabit Ethernet slowed the adoption of Category 6 cables.
CAT6 vs. CAT6A
Cat 6A Cables provide 10 Gigabit Ethernet data rate up to a distance of 100 metres, whereas the category 6 cables can only support 10 Gigabit Ethernet data rate to a length of 50 metres. The cables are slightly thicker and cost more.
Cat 6A cables can support a data rate of 10 GBPS with a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz. These Ethernet cables have extra, tighter twists along with additional insulation for lowering crosstalk.
Limitations of CAT6 Cables
As with all types of twisted pair cables, Cat 6 cable gives limited access, up to a length of 100 metres at nominal speed. It supports up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections but to an even shorter distance.
To sum things up, Cat 6A Ethernet cables are backward compatible with Cat 6 and Cat 5E cables. However, It will only work at the lowest category connector rate. Available in a range of colors, this gives you the ability to differ devices, areas or even whole networks.