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Cat 5/5e/6/7
Technology Overviews

Category 5, 5e, 6 & 7

How UTP cable Categories differ.


The TIA/EIA 568 standard specifies Category 5 cable as suitable for transmitting data at frequencies up to 100 Mbps. Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), in contrast, runs at 155 Mbps. Gigabit Ethernet runs at 1 Gbps. But what about Enhanced Category 5 (CAT5e) or proposed higher categories??


The need for increased bandwidth never ceases-the more you have, the more you need. Applications keep getting more complex, and files keep getting larger. As your network clogs with more data, what was speedy not so long ago isn't so fast anymore.


The good news is that the next generation of cabling is on the way. However, you must exercise care to ensure the cabling you install today meets your needs tomorrow. But don't worry too much. You have help. Our Tech Support experts are ready to answer your questions. Just give them a call.


Because UTP cable is by far the most common networking cable, that's where most of the research money is going these days .


Category 5
TIA/EIA 568A specifies Categories of unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable only. Each is based on a cable's ability to support minimum and maximum performance capabilities.


Until recently, Category 5 was the highest grade specified by the TIA/EIA standard. It's defined as being capable of supporting network speeds up to 100 Mbps and voice/data transmission frequencies up to 100 MHz.


Category designations are determined by UTP performance. At 100 MHz, Category 5 cable should have NEXT of 32 dB/304.8 m and an attenuation rating of 67dB/304.8 m. To comply with the standard, cables must meet only the minimum guidelines. With Category 5 properly installed, you can expect to achieve maximum performance, which, according to the standard, equals a top throughput rate of 100 Mbps.


Category 5e
The main difference between Category 5 (568A) and Category 5e (568A-5) is that some of the specifications have been made a little stricter in the enhanced version. Both operate at a frequency of 100 MHz. But Category 5e meets the following specifications: NEXT: 35 dB; PS-NEXT: 32 dB, ELFEXT: 23.8 dB; PS-ELFEXT: 20.8 dB, Return Loss: 20.1 dB, and Delay Skew: 45 ns. With that improvement,

you should be able to expect problem-free, full-duplex, four-pair Ethernet transmissions over UTP.

In the future, it's likely that most installations will require Category 5e cabling and components. But, before making a major cable investment, call Black Box Technical Support for advice .


Category 6 and beyond
You can't get real Category 6 cabling now because the standard hasn't been created yet. But the standards bodies are working on it. Category 6 is expected to support a frequency of 250 MHz, two and a half times the specifications for either Category 5.


Farther into the future, the TIA/EIA is looking at a Category 7 standard with a bandwidth of up to 600 MHz. We also know that Category 7 will use a new, yet to be determined, connector interface.


Single-User Rackmount ServSwitches
Most medium and large companies have comms rooms with rack-mounted servers running business systems. Adding a ServSwitch to the server rack gives the administrator access to all the servers from one KVM station. This sort of switch is also ideal for administering racks of servers in server farms. Having one monitor per server would be impractical; a ServSwitch will give you hardware level CLI and GUI access you require.



To talk to Tech Support, please call us at 0811/5541-0 or use our free of charge Callback Service.


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