A Category 6 cable is a type of standard Ethernet cable used in gigabit (GB) Ethernet-based computers. Also known as the Cat6 cable, this cabling system is the sixth generation of twisted pair Ethernet wiring and was mutually defined by the Electronics Industries Association and Telecommunication Industries Association in 2002. It is used primarily for computer networks that can obtain a GB, 1000 Mbps or 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). The higher version of Cat6 cable known as the Cat6a can speed up to 10 Gbps.
The Cat6 cable has four pairs of utilized copper wires which are used for data transfer. Unlike with the previous twisted pair cable versions, the Cat6 offers attenuation security, an improved crosstalk, and a stringent requirement for system noise. It is consists of components which are identified as completely backward compatible with all lower categories and has interoperability. This means that the Category 6 components are coordinated to form a marginally compliant Category 6 channel even if the Cat6 is obtained from different vendors. A Category 6 component can also serve as a substitute to boost a Category 5/5e channel because of its backward compatibility factor. While it’s not always easy to manufacture a cable that has a backward compatible or interoperability feature, it still provides functionality and durable benefits to the end-user.
Like with the Category 5 and 5e standards, the Category 6 components have similar minor Impedance of 100 Ohms but with a more stringent tolerance on Impedance variations. Impedance variations are indicated based from the “Return Loss.” In a designed cabling system, the Return Loss can be determined by the amount of transmitted signal that is caused by the impedance gap between the cable and the connecting hardware. Higher rates of Return Loss shows improved Impedance compatibility between components and lower signal reflections and re-reflections. Greater levels of reflections that are created by poor ends between connectors and cables damage the power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver. This is why careful installation procedures should be followed to avoid such complications in the system.
The Cat6 cable offers better Bit Error Rate (BER) for Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet networks. When the networking devices are jammed, complications regarding bits and re-transmission occur. The lesser the bit errors are, the more productive and efficient your network is in transferring the information.
The Cat6 cables and components have the same installation procedure as the Category 5 and 5e cables. When installing a Cat6 cable, an installer must always pay attention to the cable terminations and the cable pathway fill. It’s important to consider larger cable diameters when routing and the maintenance of the twisted pair when terminating. It’s also important to follow the procedures in the termination of connectors because wrong termination can largely affect the performance of a network.
There have always been controversies and comparisons between Category 6 and the Category 5/5e. While Category 5/5e is enough, Category 6 has shown fewer bit errors and provides higher cabling system transmission characteristics in most cases. The Cat6 cables are also less prone to internal noise and display better behavior regarding internal interference ratios. When a Category 6 cabling system is installed, it offers potential high speed data applications to the present and the future by providing wider bandwidth and transmission characteristics. Most end-users won’t even notice the difference between the two cabling systems but it’s always better to consider the benefits that are given in the chosen networks. As long as the right components and cables are installed, a good response from a Category 6 cable can be achieved and minimal internal noise will be experienced.