Get to know the many cats of the business world. No, we’re not referring to those furry four-legged friends that we all love so much, we’re talking about cable categories, known in the technology world as “Cat”.
You may have seen cable sizes referred to as Cat 5 or Cat 6. Each category is associated with capabilities, durability, and versatility.
Below we are delving into what each category means so you can make the best choice for your business.
Category 5 cables are remnants of the past. While these cables are still widely used today, they’re still becoming an outdated choice. At the time of their conception, Ct 5 cables were the most flexible, diverse networking cables. Their versatility became a solution cables for many operations.
Cat 5 cables are by no means obsolete though. Due to recent enhancements, businesses are able to continue their operation without a complete cable overhaul. Enhanced cables, Cat 5e, are insulated to reduce the interference between other cables. Crosstalk, as it’s known, is a large concern for organizations. Disruption decreases the cable’s speed and ultimately data transfer.
Category 6 cables are the next generation of wire support. With frequencies of up to 250 MHz, this cable can support higher speed. This means better service for organizations that adhere to the latest technology standards. Cat 6 cables also support thicker sheaths to increase the distance of transferred data and enhances Ethernet support. More and more businesses are choosing Cat 6 cables and up to support their business.
Cat 6a is a step above Cat 6 cables due to their ability to support bandwidth frequencies of up to 500 MHz. That’s nearly double the amount of a Cat 6. With enhanced technology comes enhanced capability. Cat 6a features sturdier sheathing to eliminate cross talk and improve signal.
Cables come with few bits and bobs that can increase durability, versatility, and overall performance.
Shielded Twisted Pair (STP): Shielded cables are particularly important for spaces that have a higher risk for electromagnetic interference. Within Shielded twisted pairs is reinforced enhancements with a twisted pair of cables and wires are coated in clear plastic to enhance durability. Metal is additionally added to the pair and the entire thing is then wrapped in another layer of installation. Eliminating interference enhances their performance. They are dressed and ready to work!
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP): UTP are built with a small piece of twine, wires, and an outer jacket to protect the cable. However, they are not as dressed up as STP. Wires in UTP cables are not coated in plastic and they also do not have metal foil like they do in STP.
PVC Cables: PVC, the most common network cable, is used to cover patch cables as well as bulk cables. However, be aware of the fire risk they pose and ensure that PVC cables are only installed when local fire codes allow for it.
Plenum Rated Cables: Plenum cables are typically found in the plenum spaces of buildings, the area closely associated with air ducts and air conditioning. Plenum cables are fire retardant and produce less smoke when burned.
Don’t forget that cable management is a vital component to your cable’s performance. Invest in the appropriate tools and enhance your efficiency while also saving space.
Like their predecessors, Category 7 cables will be able to support 10 Gbps, but it’s in their enhanced transmission that makes these cable magic. With the ability to transmit up to 40 Gb at 50 meters and even 100 Gb at 15 meters, they are built to support high frequency while their durability eliminates signal interference. Cat 7 cables, however, do need special cabling features and organizations should budget for these additional features.
Category 8 cables are coming soon. Still in the infancy of their development, these cables are going to change the way businesses operate. Enhanced speeds and reach will increase performance, bringing operations everywhere to the next level of processes.
Cables are finicky creatures. If you need help managing your cables or if you’re looking for a new solution, give us a call! CableLAN Products, Inc. carries Category 5e and Category 6, and Category 6A electrical cables, coaxial cables and indoor and outdoor fiber optic cables from many of today’s leading manufacturers. Check out our stock!