So you need new cabling done for your office or you’re just setting up a new office and need ethernet in several locations across the office, which technology should you install considering that these wires will be in the walls for a few years at least? First off we want to explain a little about the difference in the technologies.
CAT5 and CAT5e ethernet cables have been the defacto cable wired into office networks for several years now, as applications increase in complexity and require more bandwidth that steady CAT5 ethernet cable might start getting saturated. CAT6 cables are starting to emerge as the new standard for new wiring jobs to ease any current bandwidth issues that might be occurring in new offices and to future proof for expanding needs.
The benefits of CAT6
Cat6 provides the benefit of higher performance (capable up to 10GbE vs 100MbE max of Cat5) and features more strict specifications for crosstalk and system noise. Cat6 will only work with hardware that can meet it’s stricter standards, while that may make some hardware incompatible in the network, having compatible hardware will result in higher quality data going through the network. CAT6 is backwards compatible with CAT5e, CAT5 and CAT3 so you won’t have to replace everything to ugprade to CAT6 you just need to make sure that your older hardware is still high enough quality to pass CAT6’s increased baseline requirements.
CAT6a and CAT7
CAT6a is a revision on CAT6 cables allowing for greater cable length range, specifying a higher electrical specs up to 500Mhz. CAT7 is a brand new standard that won’t be seen in the real world for a while after CAT6 cables are installed. CAT7 is only compatible with CAT5 and CAT6 devices and has even higher performance and quality requirements.
So which one to use for new installs
CAT5e is still reliable and effective for most common office usage, it’s the cheapest option too! If your office is using some new technologies in your office such as VOIP then consider CAT6. CAT6 networking is also handy if large files are passed through the network commonly.