For the average user, Category 6 cable, also known as Cat 6, is slightly more high-tech than necessary, though it still has some benefits. The Cat 6 cable originated in the early 2000s, and though it has not yet surpassed Cat 5 or Cat 5e in popularity, it is gaining momentum. Cat 6 works best when all the computers and peripherals in a network work at gigabit or higher speeds, and is ideal for use when building a new computer network.
Structure and Speed
The structure of the Cat 6 cable is similar to the Cat 5 and Cat 5e: eight wires twisted together to form four pairs. However, separators within the Cat 6 cable keep each pair from contacting the others, creating a bandwidth that is twice as fast as Cat 5 and Cat 5e.
Cat 6 cables use the same type of plug and port as Cat 5 and Cat 5e; this means that a Cat 6 cable may be used in any port or connection that currently uses Cat 5. You won’t get the full speed that Cat 6 is capable of handling--the network utilizing the Cat 6 cable will only operate as fast as the slowest computer or cable will allow--but you will still get excellent performance from the cable.
If your intent is to entirely upgrade a network, Cat 6 cables should be part of that upgrade; as mentioned previously, though, you won’t get the full capabilities of the cable until all units and peripherals can handle gigabit speeds. Enterprises that are just starting up should look into doing their initial cabling with Cat 6, because Cat 6 is on its way to becoming the next industry standard.
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