Cat5 cabling versus Cat6 cabling

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The cabling that you choose for your network can seem a trivial decision. However, choosing the wrong cabling can decrease the efficacy of your connection. Carefully consider the features of Cat5 and Cat6 and decide which one is best for your business.

Cat5

The performance of Cat5 cabling is adequate but, unfortunately, it has a greater potential for crosstalk and interference than newer cabling standards. This can be frustrating for businesses that want a stress-free and straight-forward working  environment with minimal disruptions. The speed of Cat5 cabling is 100 Mbps and the frequency is up to 100 MHz. The Cat5 cable is also considered old-fashioned and no longer a recognised standard. Cat5 is also significantly slower than Cat6, however it is still sufficient for most businesses. It does support gigabit speeds but just does not do this well. On the plus side, the Cat5e cable has been improved to deliver gigabit speeds reliably and reduce interference. Although, Gigabit Ethernet is still a challenge for the Cat5e cable. The future use of the Cat5 cable may be limited. This is because using Cat5 cabling may worsen the network experience for businesses using faster internet speeds. The minimum length of Cat5 cable that you can purchase is 100 metres. It is a pound or two cheaper per 100 metres than Cat6, which is a small difference but might be relevant to a company’s decision. However, Cat5 cable is still perfectly adequate for the next few years.

Cat6

One of the main benefits of investing in Cat6 cables is the faster speed. It can transmit 10Gbps over 33-35 metres (110-165 feet) of cable. It also has a frequency of 250MHz. This makes it a reliable choice for delivering a fast internet connection. Its cost is approximately 20% higher than Cat5e cabling, however the increase in speed might justify your business paying the difference. However, a Cat6 cable must be properly installed as well as terminated to meet specific specifications. For example, the cable must not be bent tightly or kinked. The outer jacket must not be stripped back or the wire pairs untwisted or the cable will not function to its full potential. Cable shielding is available, which can enhance a Cat6 cable’s performance in high electromagnetic interference (EMI) environments. This is because the corrupting effect of EMI on the cable’s data is reduced. Cat6 cabling is also certified to cope with Gigabit speeds. It is future-proofed, to some extent, because it is suitable for any 10-Gigabit uses that may materialise. Investing in Cat6 cable will ensure fewer errors because of the more rigorous specifications that it adheres to with regard to crosstalk and system noise. Despite the main beneficial features of Cat6, it is harder to install. You will have to be extra vigilant when cutting Cat6 cables because there is more insulation and the conductors are twisted more tightly.

Cat6 cabling may be a pound or two more expensive per 100 metres, but it is well worth it. The faster speeds and opportunity to facilitate even faster speeds in the future ensures that choosing Cat6 will safeguard you from the expense of additional upgrades. However, Cat5 cabling is still often perfectly adequate and will last as few more years there is not necessarily a need to upgrade immediately. It depends on the network requirements of your business.

For cat6 cabling and cat5 cabling in Birmingham and across the entire West Midlands, contact Midland Networks today.