(This blog is an updated and extended version of a post, by our CEO, we released in September 2009)
If you’ve ever installed a network, either for your home, office or business, you’ve probably asked yourself- With so many different types of network cabling, what do I really need? Is it a CAT5, 5E, 6, 6A, shielded or unshielded, UTP or STP? Do I need a patch/straight through cable or a crossover cable? With so many different kinds of network cables to choose from, which one is right for your needs?
What types of network cable are available currently?
Cat5 has been replaced by Cat5E as the general standard networking cable in new installations, with the improved signal carrying capacity being the primary reason. A Cat5 cable can support Ethernet and Fast Ethernet. Cat5E (Cat5 enhanced) supports Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet speeds over short distances and is backward compatible with Cat5. Cat5E cable also has improved durability, due to improvements in the quality of the PVC protective jacket. It is more than suitable for most data cabling requirements.
Cat6 is one of the newest versions of network cabling, and is very similar to Cat5E, but specifically designed to consistently deliver 1 Gigabit Ethernet. It is used in installations where a Cat6 Certified Network is required.
While Cat5E and Cat6 can support Gigabit speeds, Cat6A (Cat6 Augmented) is certified to 10 Gigabit speeds and is backward compatible with the all the existing standards, and is suitable for industries utilizing high-performance computing platforms to support very high bandwidth-intensive applications. 10G/Cat 6A applications would be server farms, storage area networks, data centers & riser backbones.