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  • Are there different types of Ethernet cables?

    As with most technology, several versions of Ethernet cables evolved over time to suit changing consumer needs. While any Ethernet cable will likely be able to connect you to the Internet, newer cables are built to handle faster communication of more data.
    Ethernet cables fall into four different categories (“Cats”): Cat-5, Cat-5e, Cat-6, and Cat-6a. These categories were created in that order, and with each new model comes faster speed and less crosstalk (interference from different channels). Cat-5 and Cat-6 are the two most important categories for customers to know, and either one will likely work for a home network. Both of these cables are about 300 feet long and fit into the same Ethernet port on computers, modems, and routers. Cat-5 cables can provide speeds up to 1 Gbps and Cat-6 cables are designed for speeds up to 10 Gbps. There is a category above the Cat-6, but home Internet speeds and hardware capability aren’t quite ready for the Cat-7.
    Just because Ethernet cables can handle lightning-fast speeds doesn’t mean users will notice a faster Internet connection. To maximize the capability of the cables, the user needs to have an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that guarantees 1 Gbps or higher speeds as well as high-speed modems and new computer equipment.
  • How Ethernet cable used

    Ethernet cables, similar to enlarged phone cords in shape and appearance, have RJ45 connectors on each end to hook to a router or enabled device. Ethernet cables are twice as wide as phone cords because they contain twice as many cables. They plug into the back of a PC or the side of a laptop, and also can be used with gaming consoles.
    Sometimes, an LED indicator light will flash at the point of contact to indicate a connection.
    Ethernet is an industry standard in Internet technology supported by all network equipment makers. This makes it possible to connect hardware, regardless of manufacturer.
    Even in an environment that supports wireless Internet access, it’s a good idea to carry an Ethernet cable with your computer as a backup for connectivity.
  • Should I upgrade my Ethernet cable?

    Depending on your Internet speed, either a Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable should work for your needs. However, a new Ethernet cable will not guarantee you faster Internet speeds if your other devices you use aren’t up to date. Your hardware and software work together with your ISP to provide you with the fastest Internet speed possible.
    There are reasons other than speed to upgrade your Ethernet cable. For users who transfer large amounts of data between computers on a local area network (LAN), an upgrade may be essential. If you are setting up a new network, you may want to use the latest Ethernet cable technology to avoid needing to upgrade in the near future.
  • Category 5 cable(CAT5)

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Category 5 cable, commonly referred to as Cat 5, is a twisted pair cable for computer networks. The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for most varieties of Ethernet over twisted pair. Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.
    This cable is commonly connected using punch-down blocks and modular connectors. Most Category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the balanced line twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise rejection.
    The category 5 was deprecated in 2001 and superseded by the Category 5e specification.

  • Category 6 cable(CAT6)

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Category 6 cable, commonly referred to as Cat 6, is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards. Compared with Cat 5 and Cat 5e, Cat 6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise.[1] The cable standard specifies performance of up to 250 MHz.[1]
    Whereas 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 100 meter distance as previous Ethernet variants.
  • what is a cat 6 cable

    Cat 6 (Category 6) is a cable standard used mainly for Ethernet computer networking, security systems, and telephone services. Cat 6 cable is backward compatible with the Cat 5E, Category 6 cable is capable of transmitting voice and data up to 155 Mbps (mega bits per second), with possible transmission frequencies up to 550 MHz.


    Cat 6 carries Ethernet 10Base-T, 100Base-TX, and 1000Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet) connections. Cat 6 cable is backed with more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise than earlier cabling standards.<o:p>

    Category 6 cables come with four twisted copper wire pairs and each twisted pair is built of larger 23 gauge copper. The earlier model, Category 5, used 24 gauge copper wires. In wire gauges, a larger number indicates a smaller wire.

    Cat 6 cables are generally terminated with RJ-45 electrical connectors. The signal path’s performance will be limited to that of the lowest category if components of the various cable standards are intermixed. The maximum length of one Cat 6 cable segment is 220 meters. A repeater needs to be installed to send data over longer distances or data loss may occur.

Not all Ethernet cable is created equally. What’s the difference, and how do you know which you should use? Let’s look at the technical and physical differences in Ethernet cable categories to help us decide.

Ethernet cables are grouped into sequentially numbered categories (“cat”) based on different specifications; sometimes the category is updated with further clarification or testing standards (e.g. 5e6a). These categories are how we can easily know what type of network cable we need for a specific application.
Network cable manufacturers are required to adhere to the standards, which makes our lives easier.

What are the differences between the categories and how can you know when to use unshielded, shielded, stranded, or solid cable?
Keep reading for “cat”-like enlightenment.

Network cable technical differences

The differences in network cable specifications is not as easy to see as physical changes; so let’s look at what each category does and does not support. Below is a chart for reference when picking cable for your application based on the standards for that category.

As the category number gets higher, so does the speed and Mhz of the wire. This is not a coincidence, because each category brings more stringent testing for eliminating crosstalk (XT) and adding isolation between the wires.

This does not mean your experiences have been the same. Physically you can use Cat-5 cable for 1 Gb speeds, and I have personally used cable longer than 100 meters, but because the standard has not been tested for it, you’ll probably have mixed results. Just because you have Cat-6 cable, doesn’t mean you have  1 Gb network speeds either. Every connection in your network needs to support the 1 Gb speed and in some cases, the connection will need to be told in software to use the available speed.

Category 5 cable was revised, and mostly replaced with, Category 5 Enhanced (Cat-5e) cable which did not change anything physically in the cable, but instead applied more stringent testing standards for crosstalk.

Category 6 was revised with Augmented Category 6 (Cat-6a) which provided testing for 500 Mhz communication (compared to Cat-6’s 250 Mhz). The higher communication frequency eliminated alien crosstalk (AXT) which allows for longer range at 10 Gb/s.

Physical Differences

So how does a physical cable eliminate interference and allow for faster speeds? It does it through wire twisting and isolation. Cable twisting was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1881 for use on telephone wires that were run along side power lines. He discovered that by twisting the cable every 3-4 utility poles, it reduced the interference and increased the range. Twisted pair became the basis for all Ethernet cables to eliminate interference between internal wires (XT), and external wires (AXT).

There are two main physical differences between Cat-5 and Cat-6 cables, the number of twists per cm in the wire, and sheath thickness.

Cable twisting length is not standardized, but typically there are 1.5-2 twists per cm in Cat-5(e) and 2+ twists per cm in Cat-6. Within a single cable, each colored pair will also have different twist lengths based on prime numbers so that no two twists ever align. The amount of twists per pair is usually unique for each cable manufacturer. As you can see in the above picture, no two pairs have the same amount of twists per inch.

Many Cat-6 cables also include a nylon spline which helps eliminate crosstalk. Although the spline is not required in Cat-5 cable, some manufactures include it anyway. In Cat-6 cable, the spline is not required either as long as the cable tests according to the standard. In the picture above, the Cat-5e cable is the only one with a spline.

While the nylon spline helps reduce crosstalk in the wire, the thicker sheath protects against near end crosstalk (NEXT) and alien crosstalk (AXT) which both occur more often as the frequency (Mhz) increases. In this picture the Cat-5e cable has the thinnest sheath, but it also was the only one with the nylon spline.

Why are copper pairs twisted?

When telephone lines were first deployed alongside power lines, Alexander Graham Bell, popularly known as the inventor of the telephones, was the first person to twist copper pairs to reduce crosstalk between the lines. Twisting the copper cable every 3-4 utility poles allowed for the reduction of electromagnetic interference and an increase in range. Ethernet copper cables adopted the same technique to reduce crosstalk between internal wires (XT) and external wires (AXT).

Shielded (STP) vs. Unshielded (UTP)

Because all Ethernet cables are twisted, manufactures use shielding to further protect the cable from interference. Unshielded twisted pair can easily be used for cables between your computer and the wall, but you will want to use shielded cable for areas with high interference and running cables outdoors or inside walls.

What is the difference of Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat 7

Zion Communication will give professional answer for you.
There are several different varieties of Ethernet cable that can be obtained: speed variations, crossover cables, Cat 5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 etc..


CAT5E vs CAT6 vs CAT6A Network Cable Speed Test

Cat5 Ethernet, introduced 10/100 Mbps Ethernet over distances of up to 100 meters, also known as Fast Ethernet. Even though some older deployments still use CAT5 cable, it is now considered obsolete and has since been replaced by Cat5e.

NOTE: 100 Mbps /100m.

Cat-5e: This form of cable is recognised by the TIA/EIA and is defined in TIA/EIA-568, being last revised in 2001. It has a slightly higher frequency specification that Cat-5 cable as the performance extends up to 125 Mbps. Cat5e cable can be used for 100Base-T and 1000Base-t (Gigabit Ethernet). Cat 5e standard for Cat 5 enhanced and it is a form of Cat 5 cable manufactured to higher specifications although physically the same as Cat 5. It is tested to a higher specification to ensure it can perform at the higher data speeds. The twisted pairs within the cables tend to have the same level of twisting as the Cat 5 cables.

NOTE: 100-250Mhz/1 Gbps/100m.

Cat-6: This cable is defined in TIA/EIA-568-B provides a significant improvement in performance over Cat5 and Cat 5e. During manufacture Cat 6 cables are more tightly wound than either Cat 5 or Cat 5e and they often have an outer foil or braided shielding. The shielding protects the twisted pairs of wires inside the Cat 6 ethernet cable, helping to prevent crosstalk and noise interference. Cat-6 cables can technically support speeds up to 10 Gbps, but can only do so for up to 55 metres. 

NOTE: 250-500Mhz/10 Gbps /100m.
Cat-6a:  The “a” in Cat 6a stands for “Augmented” and the standard was revised in 2008. The Cat 6a cables are able to support twice the maximum bandwidth, and are capable of maintaining higher transmission speeds over longer cable lengths. Cat 6a ethernet cables utilise shielded which is sufficient to all but eliminate crosstalk. However this makes them less flexible than Cat 6 cable.

NOTE: 250-500Mhz/10 Gbps /100m.
Cat-7: This is an informal number for ISO/IEC 11801 Class F cabling. Cat7 ethernet cable cable comprises four individually shielded pairs inside an overall shield. Cat7 cable is aimed at applications where transmission of frequencies up to 600 Mbps is required.

Note: 600Mhz/10Gbps/100m (40Gbps at 50m/100Gbps at 15m).

Category 8


Cat8 cable is still in the development stage and not yet ratified. According to the 2016 Ethernet Alliance Roadmap, it will be able to support 25GB and 40Gb Ethernet. Cat8 will be able to support even faster transmission rates at distances of up to 30 meters.

Types of Shielded Ethernet Cables

F/UTP– Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair

Common in Fast Ethernet deployments, this cable will have a foil shield that wraps around unshielded twisted pairs.

S/UTP– Braided Shielding/ Unshielded Twisted Pair

This cable will wrap a braided shield around unshielded twisted pairs.

SF/UTP– Braided Shielding+Foil/Unshielded Twisted Pairs

This cable braids a shield around a foil wrap to enclose unshielded twisted pairs.

S/FTP– Braided Shielding/Foiled Twisted Pair

This cable wraps a braided shield around all four copper pairs. Additionally, each twisted pair is enveloped in foil.

F/FTP-Foiled/Foiled Twisted Pair

This cable encloses all copper pairs in foil. Additionally, each twisted pair is enveloped in foil.

U/FTP-Unshielded/Foiled Twisted Pairs

This cable only envelopes the twisted pairs in foil.

U/UTP-Unshielded/UnshieldedTwisted Pair

No sheathing is used. Standard Cat5e cable are examples of U/UTP cables.

There are different ways to shield an Ethernet cable, but typically it involves putting a shield around each pair of wire in the cable. This protects the pairs from crosstalk internally. Manufactures can further protect cables from alien crosstalk but screening UTP or STP cables. Technically the picture above shows a Screened STP cable (S/STP).

Solid vs. Stranded

Solid and stranded Ethernet cables refer to the actual copper conductor in the pairs. Solid cable uses a single piece of copper for the electrical conductor while stranded uses a series of copper cables twisted together. There are many different applications for each type of conductor, but there are two main applications for each type you should know about.

Stranded conductor:   This type of wire is more flexible and it is more applicable for Ethernet cables where the cable may be moved - often it is idea for patch leads at desks or general connections to PCs, etc where some movement may be needed and expected.

Solid conductor:   Solid cable is not as flexible as the stranded type, but it is also more durable. This makes it best for use in permanent installations like cable installations under floors, embedded in walls and the like.


Insulation difference

Outer insulation is typically polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or low smoke zero halogen (LSOH)
Example materials used as insulation in the cable 
Acronym Material
PE Polyethylene
FP Foamed polyethylene
FEP Fluorinated ethylene propylene
FFEP Foamed fluorinated ethylene propylene
AD/PE Air dielectric/polyethylene
LSZH or LS0H Low smoke, zero halogen
LSFZH or LSF0H Low smoke and fume, zero halogen

Ethernet cable pinout

Although the wiring and the cable manufacture details may vary between the different cable categories, the basic connectivity remains the same. In this way Ethernet cables can be used reliably to make connections between items of equipment, etc.
A summary of the signals carried and the relevant wires and connections is given in the table below:
1   +TX +TD +BI_DA 48 V out  
2   -TX -TX -BI_DA 48 V out  
3   +RX +RX +BI_DB 48 V return  
4 Ring     +BI_DC   48 V out
5 Tip     -BI_DC   48 V out
6   -RX -RX -BI_DB 48 V return  
7       +BI_DD   48 V return
8       -BI_DD   48 V return


Ethernet cable maximum lengths

A summary of Ethernet cables and their maximum operating lengths is given below:
10BaseT Unshielded Twisted Pair 100 metres
10Base2 Thin coaxial cable 180 metres
10Base5 Thick coaxial cable 500 metres
10BaseF Fibre optic cable 2000 metres
100BaseT Unshielded twisted pair 100 metres
100BaseTX Unshielded twisted pair 220 metres

Check more details of each type,please visit website as below: 
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