Upgrading to Cat-6, or to give it its full name, Category-6 cable, is generally done in computer networking when all of the components used are rated at higher speeds and will therefore require the increased bandwidth that this particular cabling can provide.
What is Cat-6 Cable?
Consisting of pairs of copper wires that are twisted together much like other cables, Cat-6 cable is used for transmitting data at high speeds. The gauge of the copper wire used may be anywhere from 22 to 24; provided that cable meets all of the usual testing standards although, you will find that the medium size of 23 is the favoured gauge. And, the category of Cat-6 cabling will be indicated in small print on the sheath of the cable itself, making it simple to tell one type from another.
Cat-6 cable is ideal for a variety of networking needs and suitable for the following:
– 100base-TX (Fast Ethernet)
– 1000base-T/1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet)
– 10Gbase-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet)
Benefits of Using Cat-6 Cable
The main benefit of using Cat-6 cable is having guaranteed capabilities of at least 200MHz and a maximum of 250MHz, which is becoming more and more of an essential quality in this day and age, with users streaming numerous media applications concurrently, all of which have a tendency to stretch the limits of Cat-5e cabling.
Although increased bandwidth is usually the first benefit of Cat-6 cable that comes to mind, albeit a rather important one, there are still several others to consider that enhance performance in comparison to its predecessors Cat-5 and Cat-5e cables, such as far more stringent specification standards.
Both NEXT (near-end cross talk) and FEXT (far-end cross talk) have been improved with Cat-6 cable thanks to more twists in the wires which reduces system noise and the number of retransmissions and errors. Cat-6 cable is also backwards compatible, meaning it can be used successfully with previous cable standards.
Upgrading to Cat-6 Cable
All too often computer users and network administrators make the common mistake of believing that upgrading to Cat-6 cable will instantly improve transmission performance, erroneously thinking that the upgrade will provide them with an all gigabit Ethernet.
A gigabit Ethernet, which is the protocol used in LANs (local area networks), provides a transmission data rate of one gigabit, or one billion bits, per second. All of the components used, not just the cable to connect everything together, must be capable of sending and receiving data at up to one billion bits a second in order to be a true gigabit network. Even if one component does not have these capabilities, the entire network may suffer as a result.
Once you are certain that every single component in your network is gigabit certified, you can then upgrade to Cat-6 cable if so desired. The components in your gigabit certified network will include peripherals such as routers, hubs, switches, patch panels, and NICs (network interface cards).
Remember that if cost is a concern, a high quality Cat-5e cable can be capable of running near or even at gigabit speeds but cannot be certified or guaranteed as such.