A world without the use of internet is impossible to imagine! We live in an era of Internet of Things (IoT), where anything and everything has a link with the internet. For creation of this world, we are grateful to the networking cables out there in the market. One of the most vital equipment in use for the creation of a wired computer networks is an ethernet cable.
The use of Ethernet cable is diverse. Its need is for linking computers, routers, switches in a local area network. The function of the cable’s use has given birth to its diverse categories. Different types of network cables perform certain specific tasks in accord of particular situation. Therefore, over time, many types of ethernet cables design came up in the market. These types are more commonly the different categories of cables.
Let us check out its evolution in brief.
The demand for higher networking speeds became a necessity. This led to the scientific and technical development with time. The cable and components underwent a severe progressive change. The change was set in motion for faster transmission with faster speeds over longer distances. In order to define the network parameters clearly, the introduction of copper categories was inevitable. This was also necessary for facilitating appropriate connecting hardware.
In the later part of the 1980s, the world saw the introduction of Category 3 cables. It could support voice services as well as 10BASE-T Ethernet. However, this eventually became inapt by the mid 1990’s. By this time, Category 5 had become widely popular. It was able to support faster network speeds up to 100Mbps.
The next phase of cable and connector development came in with the preface of Cat5e. It could support Gigabit network applications with a higher efficiency. Cat5e is in simpler terms, an enhanced version of Category 5. On the other hand, Cat5e standards brought with it some new and more stringent crosstalk specifications. It did allow Gigabit network applications and high data transfer scenario. It had a much more reliable functionality, enough for making Category 5 obsolete.
Over the last decade, Category 6 (Cat6) cable and connectors have become a basic requirement. Cat6 cables are extremely important for creating a network that supports Gigabit network applications. Moreover, a network which supports bandwidth of up to 250MHz.
Both Cat5e and Cat6 plug into the same keystone Jack of your Ethernet jacks, routers, and switches. However, they both have a distinct use, design, and application. Both cables have pair of cables with some twists of copper wires.
The Cat5e Keystone Jack supports speed limit up to 1000 MBPS while the Cat6 cables has a speed limit up to 10GBPS over 120-150 feet. The cost of the cables varies by length and differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. The standard Cat5e costs generally around $0.20 per foot. Moreover, the standard Cat6 costs around 20% higher than the Cat5e.
During the introduction of Cat6, it was much costlier than Cat5e. This made it almost impossible for use. However, since then it has proved its worth and its cost also reduced. Today, Cat6 has become the minimum requirement for installing network connections.
In Category 6A Cables, the “a” stands for augmented. It supports data rates of 10 Gigabytes per second up to 100 meters. In addition, it also supports a bandwidth of up to 500MHz. It has begun to growing popularity. The speed of cat6e has a 10GBPS (Gigabit) limit up to 164 feet and thereafter its speed is same as that of Cat5e.
It is much lighter and slimmer than earlier cables. Its use has been aggressive in the healthcare and educational institutes. Cat6a also provides power over ethernet, which gives it an edge over others.