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Cat6 Cable FAQ

Below is a list of Cat6 cable FAQs that we have commonly been asked during inquiries and installation of various Cat6 cabling projects. For further information, our project team is happy to help or arrange an on-site survey for further assistance.

What is a Cat6 cable?

Cat6 cable is a data cable that is constructed of Eight separate cores split into four pairs of colours. Thus, it is classified as a twisted pair data cable. The pairs are twisted together into colour groups. four pairs of different colours. The Cat6 cable pairs are a solid and a white/solid combination. In addition, the colours are Orange, Green, Blue, and Brown.

What is the Cat6 speed?

Cat6 speed or frequency is 250Mhz. This frequency is an increase in the maximum capability of Cat5e of 100 MHz. Also, it is capable of 1 Gigabit Ethernet over 90m and, in some cases, 10 Gigabit Ethernet over 55m

What is Cat6 RJ45 wiring?

RJ45 is the standard connection for structured cabling. The RJ45 connector is for categories from Cat5e through to Cat6a. Cat7 and above still take the basis of the RJ45 connector and add additional termination points. However, they all still plugin together.

The connector consists of eight core colours separated into four pairs, which are twisted together. The colour groups are Blue, Green, Orange and Brown. These match throughout the cable, module and patch panel. Therefore, regardless of the category of cable, transmission still occurs.

What is Cat6e?

Cat6e is not officially a recognised standard of data cabling. It is not ratified by the standard boards regulating the structured cabling industry. However, some manufacturers construct and sell a Cat6e version of their cable. It is classified as Cat6 enhanced. In essence, it enhances the original capability of Cat6 from 250Mhz to an increased capability. It is constructed with greater shielding and twists. Generally, the claims are an increase to 500 or 550Mhz. This bespoke cable is more comparable to the ratified version of Cat6a.

How much is Cat6 Cabling? Cat6 price per point?

Initial enquirers are commonly based on a Cat6 price per-point request. However, several factors affect the Cat6 price per point. This can be the location, the building, the structure, available containment, etc. It also varies due to the number of outlets required.

For a full explanation of how much is Cat6 cabling, please see our dedicated article here.

Cat5e vs Cat6

Cat6 is the advanced category of the data cable to Cat5e. The main difference between cat5 and cat6 is that Cat6 has a bandwidth of 250Mhz, two and a half times the capacity. However, at the standardised 90m permanent link distance, they can only transmit 1 Gigabit Ethernet speeds. However, Cat6 is capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 55m, although this isn't a standard length for data cabling design considerations.

Additional Information on Cat5e vs Cat6 can be found here.

Cat6 vs Cat6a

Cat6a is the next category of data cable after Cat6. Some manufacturers make a Cat6e (cat6 enhanced) cable. However, this is not officially ratified by the standards boards. Therefore, Cat6a is the next category up from Cat 6 network cabling.

The main difference between Cat6 and Cat6a is that Cat6a has a bandwidth of 500Mhz to 250Mhz, in essence, two and a half times the capacity. Cat6 had twice that of Cat5e.

Furthermore, at the standardised 90m permanent link, Cat6a can transmit 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds. Although Cat6 is capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 55m, it isn't a standard length for data cabling design considerations. Therefore, when designing a network for 10 Gigabits, cat6a is always the starting point of choice.

Cat6 vs Cat7: What's the difference between a Cat6 and Cat7 Ethernet cable?

Cat6 and Cat7 cables are different in several distinctive ways. Firstly, Cat7 cables have a more significant amount of shielding. Each pair of cores and the overall cable is shielded. In contrast, standard Cat6 is UTP or unshielded. There are Cat6 shielded versions, but only around the whole cable rather than the individual pairs.

Furthermore, the cable twists and construction are different for better noise-to-signal ratio protection. The above results in a larger cable and bend radius

The most significant difference in the cables is the transmission capabilities. Cat6 cable operates at 250Mhz, whereas Cat7 cable operates at 600Mhz. Furthermore, Cat6 is limited to 1 Gigabit Ethernet at standard 90m distances. However, Cat7 is capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet at the same length. Cat7 questions are increasing in addition to our usual Cat6 cable FAQ queries.

For a more detailed article on Cat6 vs Cat7 please click here

What is an External Cat6 cable?

External Cat6 cable is a cable designed for outdoor installation. Instead of a PVC or LSOH sheathing, it has a Polyethylene (PE) sheath. Unlike internal cables, which are generally grey, violet, orange and blue, this cable is standard in black. The PE sheath protects the data cable from external factors such as moisture and temperature. However, for additional protection, a Steel Wired Armoured cable is used. PE exterior sheathing doesn't offer additional structural protection. It has the same structural protection as that of an indoor cable.

What is Shielded Cat6?

Cat6 comes in various constructions. There is an external option and also an exterior steel armoured covered version. For internal Cat6 cables, there is an Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and a Shielded Twisted Pair Cat6 (STP) cable.

The shielded version is the same in many ways as its counterpart but with the addition of a foil shield around the cores of the cables underneath the outer sheath. This shield adds a layer of protection from external noise and EMI.

Can I run HDMI over Cat6?

Cat6 is a good choice to transfer HDMI signals, although better options exist. For this to happen, a transmitter sending the source HDMI signal is used to convert the signal over the Cat6 cable. At the other end, a receiver converts it back from Cat6 to HDMI. In some cases and for some manufacturers, it is recommended that a minimum of Cat6a is used. This increase in cable specification is due to the increased bandwidth required for the audiovisual connection.

What is a Cat6 Coupler?

A Cat 6 coupler is a through joiner where two plug ends of a Cat 6 cable are joined together through the coupler. However, these couplers generally result in signal loss and, therefore, are not recommended when extending Cat6 cables. Furthermore, it is not recommended when extending structured cabling in general. However, if an extension or temporary joint is required, then the inline joiners are a better solution. These result in less loss and better transmission speeds after joining.

What is a Cat6 junction box?

A cat6 junction box is an inline joiner used to extend 2 Cat6 cables. The junction box comprises two punch-down termination blocks joined within a single casing.

Each of the two cat6 cables is terminated at opposite ends of the case, and a permanent join is thus created.

What are my options for Cat6 Armoured Cable?

Cat6 Armoured cables are similar in most ways to their standard counterpart. Thus, they have an extra layer of protection against external damage. This could be the cable being cut or, crushed or damaged by any outside force. Steel Wired Armoured (SWA) is the general term for armoured cable and is constructed of a strand of steel wire surrounding the inner cable. Therefore, these steel wires offer additional protection. The performance of the Cat6 cable is the same regardless of standard or armoured sheathing.

Can you use a Cat6 cable for Telephone?

In legacy phone systems, a voice cable called CW1308 was used to connect individual phone sockets. In many cases, BT would insist on that cable specification. However, with phones moving first to digital and then VoIP systems, data cables became the standard for wiring the telephone sockets. Therefore, Cat6 is suitable for telephones and will be the choice of many when fitting out a new office. Cat5e is also suitable for VoIP transmission.

If the overall office calls for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, then typically, all sockets will be wired in Cat6a, including the phones. This single cable design is part of a structured cabling system installation.

For an in-depth article on Cat6 cabling for telephones please click here.

Do Cat6 cables work with Cat5?

Cat6 and Cat5e systems will each have the same termination standards. Furthermore, this will be for the cable cores, core colours, patch panels, modules, and termination plugs. Therefore, all Cat6 elements will plug into Cat5e systems and vice versa. However, the performance of the overall cabling system will only be as good as its weakest part. Thus, plugging Cat6 components into a Cat5e system will only retain the performance of a Cat5e link. Furthermore, plugging Cat5e elements into a Cat6 link will reduce it to a Cat5e performance.

How to differentiate Cat5 and Cat6?

The simplest way to see the difference between the cables is on the outside cover of the cable. The cables have a series of markings consisting of code numbers and identification. Part of these markings is whether the cable is Cat6 or Cat5e. Furthermore, Cat6 cable in some manufacturers will have a plastic central divider between the four pairs. This divider is not found in Cat5e. However, this is dependent on the manufacturer's cable construction, so it is not always 100% the case.

How to test a Cat6 cable?

Cat6 can be tested in a few different ways, but there is only one valid option. Firstly, a simple continuity tester can be used. This is where the cable is tested, and eight lights confirm if the eight cores (4 pairs) have been terminated in the correct order. However, these testers give no feedback about the transmission capabilities of the cable.

Besides, with these testers you can't tell the quality of installation and the quality of terminations of the modules and panels. Thus, it is imperative all structured cabling should be tested with a Cable Certification tester. One such tester would be the Fluke DSX.

A cable certification tester shows charts highlighting the performance of the cable. Also, it highlights any effects of poor installation or faulty terminations. Finally, it summarises if the cable can transmit as it should. Line charts and calculation tables are given on a single page per cable, and a summary of a Green Tick Pass or Red Cross Fail is noted.

More details on Structured Cabling Testing can be found HERE.

Can Cat6 run Gigabit Ethernet?

Cat6 cabling can transmit Gigabit Ethernet up to 90m for a permanent link. This link is from the patch panel to the module. Furthermore, 5m patch leads can be used at each end. Also, a 100m direct link is allowed.

Can Cat6 Run 10 Gigabit Ethernet?

Following structured cabling standards, Cat6 is not ratified for 10 Gigabit transmission speeds. However, this is based on the standard 90m limit. However, in some cases, it can achieve 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 55m. This 55m length, however, is not part of the cabling standards, so when designing a new installation, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet requirement should be installed in Cat6a and above

What is the maximum distance of Cat6?

Cat6 maximum distance is based on the same length of all structured cabling categories. Regardless of category, all structured cabling is ratified on its performance over a 90m permanent link. This link then allows for 5m Cat6 patch leads at each end. Also, a 100m direct link is permitted.

Furthermore, at 90m Cat6 is capable of transmitting 1 Gigabit Ethernet. In some cases and dependent on manufacturer Cat6, cables are capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 55m



For further articles with regards to Cat6 cable FAQ please visit our Knowledge Center HERE

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