The age old question of “what Ethernet cabling should I install” is asked of me lot.
Lets run through it as simply as possible (2 minute read)
Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be transferred between two points in a Network in a given time. Ie Network capacity. Bandwidth is measured in Mhz
Data rate: This is the speed that the data can travel though the network and is measured in Gigabits per second (Gbps) ISO11801 Standard sets out the performance requirements for ratified cable cable types.
Category 6 (class E)
Cat6 has a bandwidth of 250Mhz and is rated to carry 1Gbps over 100 metres without deteriorating
Cat6 is quickly becoming outdated for networks that require a large amount of data to travel in a timely fashion across your network.
Most people are happy to wait for a second or two. However large files with lots of users will simply take too long over cat6
TIP: Go for a shielded solution. Alien Crosstalk becomes more prevalent at higher frequencies. Crosstalk is simply unwanted interference in the copper wires.
Cat6A (class Ea)
If you have longer length cable runs, very large files or you want to future proof your office then go for Cat6A.
While the typical PC or laptop uses 1Gbps NIC (network Interface card), you can install 10Gpbs NIC’s, so why not use that computing speed?
Cat6A has a bandwidth of 500Mhz and is rated to transfer data at 10Gbps over 100 metres.
Get a professional to correctly install your cat6A. Its tricky.
TIP: go for a shielded solution. Alien Crosstalk becomes more prevalent at higher frequencies. Crosstalk is simply unwanted interference in the copper wires.
Category 7 – the category that never was. The cable was created before there was ever a need for it. So it wasn’t ratified as a standard.
In anycase, the connectors are not RJ45, although you can get a hybrid patchlead to overcome this issue (GG45 to RJ45)
Manufacturers rate it at a bandwidth of 600mhz for 10Gbps data rate. As you can see it isn’t much better than the much cheaper Cat6A
It is often specified due to its shielding properties. It’s generally terminated with Cat6A shielded jacks
Similarly, the Cat7A Link isn’t ratified, however the cable is also great for its shielding properties and has gained popularity with Audio Visual installers.
Again, why bother? It’s not ratified, and equipment that supports it, also supports the Cat6A
Category 8 – only ratified for distances up to 30 metres. This 2000Mbps / 40Gbps “monster” cable doesn’t really have any practical application. Try Fibre, it’s cheaper.
The best solution? Cat6A Shielded cable up to 90 metres of link length. Use Cat7 cable with a double shield if you really need to cut out the interference (alien crosstalk) and terminate it with Cat6A STP jacks
Have your installer test and give you a copy of the test results. The best tester is the Fluke DSX5000 cable tester and here at Elam we have four of them.
If you’re in Sydney Australia – call us on 02 98092999 for a free quote on your next install.
Written by Lyn Evans 17/11/2020