Understanding Category Cables

Understanding Category Cables

Although the digital age is being built with cloud architecture, organizations still rely on Cat cables to handle all the heavy lifting when it comes to transmitting data. Understanding category cables (Cat) will help you better understand your investment and how your data center works. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at category cables and give you a sense of what they do and why they’re still relevant in the digital age.

What is a Cat3 Cable?

Category 3 or Cat3 cables were first heavily used in the early ’90s for wiring offices and homes. They’re still used today in two-line phone configurations. Cat3 can be relied on to handle data speeds of up to 10 Mbps, but not higher. Their maximum frequency comes in at 16 MHz. Cat3 cables rely on copper for data and power transmission.

What are Cat5 Cables?

In early 2000, Cat5 overtook Cat3 as the Ethernet cable of choice.  It stood out by using two cable pairs to transmit signals over copper wire. Its maximum frequency is clocked at MHz and has speeds of 100 Mbps. Cat5 can be used at lengths of up to 100 meters. Today, Cat5 cables have been largely replaced by Cat5e cables.

What are Cat5e Cables?

While very similar to Cat5 cables in appearance, Cat5e cables use four pairs of copper wires rather than the two found in Cat5 cables. Additionally, the wire pairs are twisted more tightly and are sheathed in heavy-duty shielding to eliminate crosstalk. Crosstalk cuts down on the speed in which a cable can transmit information. Cat5e cables can hand up to 1 Gbps of throughput at distances up to 100 meters. Today, Cat5e cables are the most common cables found in homes and offices for Ethernet purposes.

What is a Cat6 Cable?

Cat6 cables are used to support back-end, high-capacity networking. They can support frequencies of up to 250 MHz and handle up to 10 Gbps. Because of better cable insulation, Cat6 reduces crosstalk even better than Cat5e. They perform well at distances up to 100 meters for Gigabit Ethernet.

What are Cat6a Cables?

If you’re wiring a home or office for Ethernet for the long term, today’s Cat6a is an excellent choice for future-proofing. Cat6a is projected to replace HDMI in the coming years. The main difference between Cat6 and Cat6a is Cat6a can operate at frequencies up to 750 MHz. Additionally, they are even less vulnerable to crosstalk.

Voice and Data Cable Installations

Communications Solutions, Inc. specializes in both voice and data cable installations in Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida area. We use Cat3 and Cat5 for voice, depending on your requirements. For computing needs we use Cat5e and Cat6 for data transmission. We work with a variety of cabling manufacturers to source the right cables solution for your voice and data needs. Call today, and we’d be happy to discuss the options that make sense for your business or organization.

(904)-777-6656

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