Tag Archives: Copper Cabling

Ethernet Cable Types – Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7


When selecting the appropriate Category of cable to support your network, note that there are different grades within each Category. A higher grade cable with the proper installation will allow for a higher margin of error, ensuring top performance today and an extra buffer to support future technology. Properly selecting Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 solutions will optimally support current and future network speed requirements. But which one should you choose? This text will give you some guidance.

The Cat5e has Replaced the Cat5 Ethernet Cable

cat5e ethernet cableCat5 cable can support 10/100 Ethernet. That is, Ethernet and Fast Ethernet. However, Cat 5e cable can support Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet. Cat5e Cable is completely backwards compatible, and can be used in any application in which you would normally use Cat 5 cable. Crosstalk is the electrical interference that results when one wire’s signal affects another wire’s signal. Cat5e cable has been improved over Cat5 cable in this respect, and cross talk has been greatly reduced. We all know that bandwidth is directly related to network support. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the information-carrying capacity in a given period of time. Cat5e cable is rated at 100 MHz, and it is this increased bandwidth (compared to Cat5 cable) that allows it to support Gigabit Ethernet. Since 1G is widely used today, the Cat5e has gradually replaced the Cat5.

Use Cat5e or Cat 6 Ethernet Cable?

cat6 UTP patch cableCat6 is a standardized cable for Gigabit Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Cat5/5e and Cat3 cable standards. Compared with Cat5 and Cat5e,  Cat6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. The cable standard provides performance of up to 250 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T/1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet). We may notice that both Cat5e and Cat6 can support Gigabit Ethernet, however, Cat6 is certified for Gigabit networking and will perform better over longer distances. So choosing the Cat6 cable will be more stable to meet the Gigabit needs. But one thing you should keep in mind is that your network is only as fast as your slowest component, so unless every piece of your network (routers, cables, etc.) supports Gigabit Ethernet, you will not be able to reach those speeds.

Differences between Cat6 and Cat6a Ethernet Cable

cat6a stp cableThe latest standard from the TIA for enhanced performance standards for twisted pair cable systems was defined in February 2009 in ANSI/TIA-568-C.1. According to this standard, Cat6a is also called Augmented Cat6, which is 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper proposal to the Cat6 standard. Category 6a performs at improved specifications, in particular in the area of alien crosstalk as compared to Cat6, which exhibited high alien noise in high frequencies. Cat6 specifies cable operating at minimum frequency of 500 MHz—twice that of Cat 6, for both shielded and unshielded. It can support future 10 Gb/s applications up to the maximum distance of 100 meters on a 4-connector channel. Compared with the Cat6, Cat6a is more effective and flexible. As 10G is more and more widely used, Cat6a will become more and more popular.

Cat7 Will be the Ethernet Cable of Choice

cat7 network patch cableCat7 cables are designed to support much higher frequency signals than Cat5e and Cat6. This allows Cat7 cabling to carry a larger amount of information. Cat7 cable is also able to better protect the signals traveling over the cable. The shielding as well as the tighter twists of the pairs in Cat7 cable lessens the effects of crosstalk and EMI. Cat7 cable is commonly terminated using a GG45 connector, which is a connector that it backwards compatible with the 8p8c RJ45 connectors used on Cat6 or Cat5e cable. The GG45 connector has four additional conductors that provide support for frequencies of up to 600MHz. The higher frequencies allow Cat 7 cable to support 10-Gigabit Ethernet. Currently, Cat7 is not widely adopted. Cat5e and Cat6 solutions sufficiently support the bandwidth requirements of today’s data centers, networks, and end users. Using Cat7 for a connection to a desktop would be unnecessary because the bandwidth would not be utilized. It may also be an unnecessary expense for many data center applications for the same reason. However, as technology advances and requirements increase, Cat7 cable will become more relevant in the data center and desktop connections.

Ethernet Cable Comparison

Some specifications for Cat5, Cat6, Cat7 are introduced above, then I will show you a table. From the table below, you can see their differences more clearly:

cat5 cat5e cat6 cat6a cat7 cat7a

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Related Article: Quick View of Ethernet Cables Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6

Why Choose the Shielded Cabling System

Shielded VS. Unshielded Cabling

In copper structured cabling system at all levels, there are two main technical types: Shielded and Unshielded cabling systems. Both types have been in existence since the earliest cabling standards were defined. While shielded cabling became popular from the outset in countries like Germany, Austria,Switzerland and France, U/UTP was quickly adopted in the rest of the world. Although both systems work fine at 1 Gigabit Ethernet data rates, shielded systems can demonstrate superior performanceat higher data rates such as 10G due to their ability to reliably support higher frequency transmission.

Cable structure

What Is the Function of Shielded?


F/UTP cable shielding structure is four pairs of wires in the data cable outside the contractor a layer of aluminum foil shielded, this layer of shielding can be reduced to a great extent the total package:

This is the root of the signal transmission cable radiated interference signals on the impact of adjacent data cable (for example: the same bundle of cables in the adjacent data cable).Interference from other data cable or other interference source signal for this cable.For a high quality data transmission system, which is significant in two kinds of effects. If the external interference signal is strong enough it will happen with the normal transmission signal stack a plus, resulting in reduced transmission performance even the entire system can not work properly.


S/FTP structure in addition to the total package of braided foil shield, twisted pair cable are respectively in each pair with a layer of aluminum foil shield to protect the transmission signal does not interfere with each other, so near-end crosstalk attenuation (NEXT)performance dramatically. NEXT better performance means higher SNR and better transmission quality and faster system output. S/FTP shielded cables NEXT excellent structural performance of other cables (such as non-shielded U/UTP) can not be compared, therefore, ISO11801 on the Cat 7 (600MHz) and Cat 7a  (1000MHz) only provides the S/FTP cable structure, U/UTP cannot meet.

10GBase-T Makes Data Cable Face New Problem: Alien Crosstalk

2006 Copper Gigabit Ethernet applications published the proposed new standard transport protocols 10GBASE-T. Compared to 1000Base-T, its transmission rate increased 10 times. 1000BASE-T copper cabling required parameters (Attenuation, NEXT, Return Loss, etc.) the bandwidth required to reach 1-100MHz, with UTP Cat 5e (Class D) cabling system to meet requirements. 10GBASE-T cabling channel requirements of all component parameters have to be up to 500MHz bandwidth, which requires copper to reach at least Cat.6A (Class Ea) or higher level.

Along with the development of 10GBASE-T, external noise problems become more evident, resulting in a specification for external noise to be used to assess in the same bundle of cables, the interaction between different cables. This is what we call Alien Crosstalk. Alien Crosstalk will increase with the increase of frequency. Worse, 10GBASE-T confronted with external noise, will not be able to “adaptive” to lower the rate at which the network may be subsequently face paralysis. Therefore, to support 10GBASE-T cabling system application, the ability to resist alien crosstalk is vital.

Since 10GBASE-T high transmission frequencies and complex coding method is very sensitive to the external noise. Shielding system excellent coupling atttenuation performance makes it naturally have to resist alien crosstalk.The unshielded system against alien crosstalk is usually only on the performance of 0dB.Shielding system in the design is completely satisfy the application of 10G.

The Installation of 10GBase-T: U/UTP VS. FTP 80a

Unshielded System

As far as possible away from power cable during installationDifferent applications (1Gb/s and 10Gb/s) in the same pipeline transmission will cause the external crosstalk.

Shielding System

With the power cable can be reduced separation distanceAllow different applications (1 Gb / s and 10 Gb / s) in the same pipeline transmissionDoes not need additional external crosstalk test field

The Separation Distance Between the Data Cable and Power Cable

In EN50174 standard defines the content of different coupling attenuation value level of data cable, respectively, from A (low coupling attenuation, worse) to D (high coupling attenuation, good) four levels.

Classification of information technology cables

Screened Unscreened Coaxial/twinaxial Segregation classification
Coupling attenuation at 30 Mhz to 100 Mhz TCL at 30 MHz to 100 MHz Screening attenuation at 30 MHz to 100 MHz
>= 80dB >= 70 -10xlg(f) dB >= 85dB d
>= 55dB >= 60 -10xlg(f) dB >= 55 dB c
>= 40 dB >= 50 -10xlg(f)dB >= 40 dB b
< 40 dB <50 -10xlg(f) dB < 40 dB a

Installers need to know which cable separated levels to determine the choice of the data requirements of the standard cable with power cable between the minimum separation distance. Data cable coupling attenuation higher the value and power cables minimum separation distance between the smaller. Please refer to the following three examples, screenshots from Nexans Toolkit.


Example 1: U/UTP (Class B – Coupling Attenuation >/= 40dB) -> 225mm


Example 2: F/UTP (Class C – Coupling Attenuation >/= 55dB)-> 114mm


Example 3: S/FTP (Class D – Coupling Attenuation >/= 80dB)-> 24mm

Relative to the shielded cable, the unshielded (U/UTP) separation distance between cable and power cable to further. In the implementation of the project, if need the data cable and power cable isolation far distance, we need a bigger size pipe/bridge, or even additional bridge, doing this will no doubt have higher cost, sometimes limited to the bridge installation space. To make matters worse, these additional requirements often neglected or ignored, resulting in network system is the key point of interference.


For shielded, unshielded systems and fiber optic cable, all need to implement protective grounding. Because of the need to consider personal and equipment safety, therefore no matter adopt what kind of cabling system, the metal part of the system must be grounded. For the shielding system, also need to implement the functional ground. Grounded shielding system functions with respect to the implementation of non-shielded systems only difference is that when you install the module connector and the cable shielding mask area area connected.


Shielding system relative to the unshielded system has been greatly improved EMC performance. For Gigabit Ethernet applications, shielding against external interference effects is essential, and shielded cabling system had to meet the standards in the design of anti-alien crosstalk (A-XT) requirements, can effectively prevent the cable from the adjacent between the external crosstalk. Shielded cabling system, properly grounded at both ends of the case, to resist external interference characteristics superior to unshielded system 40dB.

How Far Will Copper Network Go

In the background of global data traffic rises quickly, the data center construction tend to develop in the direction of cloud computing, and cloud computing data center will more use fiber-based transmission of 10G, even 40G/100G and other high-speed network applications, at the same time, the application of virtualization technology has put forward higher requirements for network transmission, bring new opportunities to the application of fiber optical system. While FTTH applications will receive more government policy support in China, the process of fiber optic instead of copper cable seems to take an important step forward.

As we pay attention to all these large number of industry dynamics and information, is it expected that copper cabling has gradually come to an end? For such a conjecture, then we will analyze the copper cabling systems market changes and development from the direction of copper cabling standards develop, using applications and other aspects.

The Direction Of Copper Cabling Standards Develop

In 1000Base-T and below Gigabit Ethernet transmission mediums, cat5e Ethernet cable, cat6 network cable and other copper twisted pair wires have the absolute advantages. With 10GB Ethernet IEEE 802.3 of copper-based twisted pair cable as a transmission medium, an 10GBASE-T specification formally approved to release in June 2006, which supports traditional twisted-pair fiber optic cable, the port using a standard RJ45 connector to connect, can be backward compatible with 1000Base-T and below Ethernet applications. Cat6A copper twisted pair cable can support 10GBase-T transmission and distance up to 100 meters. Cat6 UTP can support 10GBase-T transmission and distance up to 37 meters, so that new users can use the original installed twisted-pair cable.

Copper Cabling System Applied In Data Center

In recent years, the rapid growth of global data business volume, many network architectures of traditional data center can not fully apply to the requirements of various data centers. To solve the contradiction between the growth of data traffic and the speed of infrastructure construction, cloud computing data center with a lot of computing resources have been widely used, and will be an important development direction of future data center construction. As new technologies like virtualization are widely used in the data center, whether copper cabling system will meet the transmission performance requirements?

Copper Cabling System Used In Commercial Buildings

In the traditional building cabling projects, as the information work area is relatively dispersed, even in the floor IDF and equipment management MDF and other areas, the physical space for the wiring system is relatively large, the choice of transmission media is not too much consider the wiring density factor. Wiring cabinet distribution in each floor wiring management also reduces cooling requirements, energy consumption of the network device port have a low influence on the building wiring system relatively data center. In building wiring plan, the project more focus on economical, which means the overall cost investment of the project construction.

Therefore, a lower initial investment cost twisted pair copper cabling system wiring has an absolute advantage in the building cabling, according to survey data provided by the wiring Alliance Network, copper cabling system in possession of the cabling market share reached 80% in 2011, the GIM market report also shows that copper cabling system has an absolutely superiority in the cabling systems.

Structured Cabling Market 2008-2013

Since cabling system entered the Chinese market in the late 1980, has been more than 20 years. Early building cabling used only support 100Base-T, either from the cabling system to meet network demand, or the wiring system itself has entered the warranty period are applied to the limit. Therefore, in addition to new building cabling projects, old cabling system reform projects have hidden market capacity, will certainly bring a development opportunity to the cabling industry.

Transformation Of The Building Cabling System Project

In the wiring system transformation projects, design and plan need to consider compatible with the original equipments. Taking into account the specific situation of the existing network equipments, such projects will be mainly in the solution of 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop. Gigabit Ethernet device port in terms of energy consumption, choose the copper twisted pair cable or fiber optic as the transmission medium is insignificant, energy consumption of per port are about 3W.

For without considering the wiring density and per port of energy consumption, copper twisted pair cable has the absolute advantage in cost, as the primary transmission medium of 1000Base-T Ethernet (using a small amount of fiber optic cable in main part of data). In this kind of modification of building cabling system project, the horizontal part will large use copper twisted-pair cable such as Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6 as the main cable.


As data center widely use virtualization technology especially for cloud computing data center, the requirements in network transmission delay, network bandwidth, energy consumption of port and wiring density are increasingly high, and Gigabit applications over copper twisted-pair cable wiring system to transmit has certain limitations in delay, energy consumption of port, wiring density, etc. At the same time, the influence of factors such as widely used TOR architecture, so the cabling system in data center, the copper wiring has no applied advantage in a very long time.

Compared to the building cabling system accounting for more than 80% of the total wiring market, due to the low demand in energy consumption of port as well as wiring density, the distribution network previous cost investment is more considered. In addition, the workspace of the IT terminal equipment using mainstream RJ45 interface and RJ45 interface has adaptive function of network backward compatible, and compared with fiber optic network equipment port, copper network equipment has more obvious price advantage. So the copper twisted pair cabling system will still be the preferred building cabling system in a longer period.