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Category 5e and Category 6 Questions and Answers

The applications which use the transmission frequency of 200 MHz are very rare, then why should we use Category 6 cables over Category 5E?

Bandwidth and the rate of data transfer are related to each other in the same way as a highway is related to traffic. Increasing the data transfer rate is similar to increasing the quantity of lanes on a thoroughfare to increase the traffic flow. It has been observed that the data rates increase by 100% every eighteen months and due to this there is a need to use new means of transmission with better transfer rates. Today the apps moving at a transfer rate of 1 Gb/sec are hitting the ceiling of category 5E cables capabilities. Applications which require streaming of data like video and multimedia transfer demand high transfer rates and this demand can only be fulfilled by Cat 6 cables, which offer higher bandwidth. Use of Cat 6 will also boost the development of new applications which work with higher bandwidth.

How is Category 6 different from Category 5E?

Category 6 cables have a better communication performance and higher bandwidth than Category 5E cables. The bandwidth available for Category 6 cables is 200 MHz contrary to 100 MHz as available in Category 5E cables. Also including near end crosstalk (NEXT), improved insertion loss, return loss, and equal level far end crosstalk (ELFEXT). Category 6 cables also reduce the noise in the signal and therefore have elevated signal/noise ratio. Due to the higher bandwidth in Category 6 cables, they provide the systems more reliable and faster transfer rates for future applications.

Is Category 6 the future cable ?

The answer is yes, Category 6 indeed is the future cable. As predicted by analyst and autonomous polls conducted, polls show that around 80-90 % of the new networks will be equipped with Cat 6 cables. The best part of Category 6 which favors its installation is that it is backward compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 5e cables. This feature of Category 6 allows the users to supersede their Category 5E networks with Category 6 networks.

 Why should a user replace Category 5 cable networks with Category 6 Cable networks?

The answer is very simple and clear. Better communication performance and its better protection from external noise makes the system with Category 6 networks more stable as compared to a system equipped with Category 5E cables. This means there is less loss of data packets and re-transmissions of data at certain intervals. This makes Category 6 networks more reliable than Category 5E networks.

At what time should Category 6 be recommended?

Installation of cables is an expensive operation because it requires the wires to pass through walls, in ducts and under the floor to reach every system and replacing the existing cable network with a new network is also a costly affair. To prevent this extra expenditure, a person should install the latest technology available in the market. If you install Category 5E cables today and after few years when a large number of applications require higher transfer rates than the range of Cat 5E cables provide then you will be required to replace the existing cables with Cat 6 cables. To prevent this it is advised to install Cat 6 cables in all new networks.

What shortest link does the standard allows?

Honestly speaking there is no small span distance. The standard is expected to perform for every length less than 100 meters. A rule in TIA/ANSI/EIA-568-B.1 states that the consolidation location must be positioned at least fifteen meters away from the telecom room to lower the effect of connectors nearby. The recommendations stated above are based on the worst performance calculations for short links with four mated connectors in channel.

Will Category 6 cables be effective in residential markets?

The answer is again affirmative; Cat 6 cables are very effectual in residential markets as well. This is because these cables can support high online access speed while facilitating the more strict class B EMC requirements. Due to better balance in Category 6 cables, they can meet the EMC residential requirements more efficiently than the Cat 5e cables. Due to the increase in demand of streaming types of applications like video and multimedia transfer, there will be an increase in the requirement for higher transfer rates which can only be supported by Cat 6 cables.

Why should a user not prefer optical fiber over Cat 6 Cables?

There is no doubt that a optical fibre network is better than Cat 6 network but the major drawback is that installation and maintenance of optical fibers are very expensive. Today the cost of optical fibers with optical transceivers is twice as much as that of an equivalent network built with Cat 6 cables. Setting up of copper cabling as in Category 6 is easier and can be done by straightforward gear and methods. Another feature of copper cabling is that it can support data terminal equipment power standards under development by IEEE (802.3af). In certain specific situations, optical fiber can be better, but for most situations Category 6 cable is a less expensive choice.

How are the connectors of Category 5E and Category 6 different?

The connectors of Cat 5E and Cat 6 may look alike but there lies a difference in their construction and use. Category 6 connectors have better transmission performance than Cat 5E connectors. Taking an example of transmission at 100 MHz frequency, NEXT for Category 5E is 43 decibels (dB), whereas NEXT for Category 6 is 54 decibels (dB). In simpler words it means that a Cat 6 connector couples only about 1/12 of the cross talk power coupled by a Cat 5E connector from one pair to another. We can also say that a Cat 6 connector is 12 times less noisy than a Cat 5E connector. Category 6 connectors were a result of new technology, new and better processes, and significant R & D resources that made the connectors better and more expensive than Cat 5E connectors





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