With names such as Cat 3, Cat 5e, Cat 6, and Cat 6a, it is a wonder that many people do not understand Ethernet cables. The name Ethernet cable does not cover all the cables, and one has to know some of the meaning behind these specifications since they determine how well your network will operate. Once you have good knowledge of these names, you will be able to get the correct cables with ease; the name cat is the short form for the word ‘Category”. This will reduce the cost of buying cables. Here are some of the meanings behind the different cable names.
What re the different categories of Ethernet cables?
Ethernet cables vary vastly but those that are commonly used fall into 3 different categories
Cat 3 Ethernet cables
These network cables are now outdated and they are rarely used today. These cables were used for networking during the 1990’s and used the old standard for networking. The cables were not shielded and could be interrupted by other devices. When the Cat 5 category was established, the Cat 3 was quickly phased out. You may still find the cables being sold by some wholesalers and legacy computer stores.
Cat 5 and 5E Ethernet cables
These were used for the Ethernet and other fast data networks. These cables were designed to keep the integrity of the signals. The cables comprise of a pair of twisted cables. The cables are available in shielded and unshielded versions. The shielded cables are good for an environment with many other devices running. The cables allow for higher performance with very little interference. Cat 5e soon came to tighten the restrictions for the Cat 5 cables. This meant that there was enhanced performance and quality of network operations. Cat 5 and 5e have cable connectors with 8 pins. Smaller offices and home networks use Cat 5 Ethernet cables. These cables can be used with wireless and wired routers, and also networking components designed for home use. The cables work well with most computer network cards. It is advisable that you use shielded cables whenever possible.
Cat 6 and 6a Ethernet cables
These are cables that are best suited for commercial use. They re termed as gigabit cables due to their high performance capability. These cables are backward compatible with Cat 5 cables. The beauty of this is that they can be used for networks that had previously had Cat 5 and Cat 5e cables. Similar to the case in Cat 5, the Cat 6a standard has replaced the Cat 6 standard. This means that the networks have become much faster and offer more protection. The cables use the same connectors that were used by Cat 5 cables. You can use the cables at home, but you will be wasting their capacity. There are no modems, routers, or other home network device that can use the speed of the Cat 6 cables effectively. It would generally save you more money if you used the Cat 5 cables for your home purposes. The Cat 6 Ethernet cables are ideal in commercial settings such as large corporate networks.
The differences in prices between these cables is very small, and for this reason alone, people may opt to but Cat 6 cables in the hope that they may get devices for home use, that will require high speed Ethernet cables. It has been said that consumer products are rapidly evolving and soon there are devices that will need high speed cables in order to work at home properly.
These are the differences of the Ethernet cables, which transmit data at rates that are much faster that your normal telephone line.
Ethernet Cable Pictures