CategoryÂ 6 cable, commonly referred to as CatÂ 6, is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the CategoryÂ 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards.
Compared with CatÂ 5 and CatÂ 5e, CatÂ 6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. The cable standard also specifies performance of up to 250Â MHz compared to 100Â MHz for CatÂ 5 and CatÂ 5e.
Whereas CategoryÂ 6 cable has a reduced maximum length of 55 meters when used for 10GBASE-T, CategoryÂ 6A cable (or Augmented Category 6) is characterized to 500Â MHz and has improved alien crosstalk characteristics, allowing 10GBASE-T to be run for the same 100 meter maximum distance as previous Ethernet variants.
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CategoryÂ 6 cable can be identified by the printing on the side of the cable sheath.
CatÂ 6 patch cables are normally terminated in 8P8C modular connectors. If CatÂ 6 rated patch cables, jacks and connectors are not used with CatÂ 6 wiring, overall performance is degraded and may not meet CatÂ 6 performance specifications.
Connectors use either T568A or T568B pin assignments; performance is comparable provided both ends of a cable are terminated identically.
Cable types, connector types and cabling topologies are defined by TIA/EIA-568-B. Nearly always, 8P8C modular connectors (often referred to as RJ45 connectors) are used for connecting categoryÂ 6 cable. The cable is terminated in either the T568A scheme or the T568B scheme. The two schemes work equally well and may be mixed in an installation so long as the same scheme is used on both ends of each cable.
The standard for CategoryÂ 6A is ANSI/TIA-568-C.1, defined by the TIA for enhanced performance standards for twisted pair cable systems. It was defined in 2009. CategoryÂ 6A is defined at frequencies up to 500Â MHzâ"twice that of CatÂ 6.
CategoryÂ 6A performs at improved specifications, in particular in the area of alien crosstalk as compared to CatÂ 6Â UTP (unshielded twisted pair), which exhibited high alien noise in high frequencies.
The global cabling standard ISO/IEC 11801 has been extended by the addition of amendment 2. This amendment defines new specifications for CatÂ 6A components and Class EA permanent links. These new global CatÂ 6A/ClassÂ EA specifications require a new generation of connecting hardware offering far superior performance compared to the existing products that are based on the American TIA standard.
The most important point is a performance difference between ISO/IEC and EIA/TIA component specifications for the NEXT transmission parameter. At a frequency of 500Â MHz, an ISO/IEC CatÂ 6A connector performs 3Â dB better than a CatÂ 6A connector that conforms with the EIA/TIA specification. 3Â dB equals 50Â % reduction of near-end crosstalk noise signal power; see Half-power point.
Confusion therefore arises because of the different naming conventions and performance benchmarks laid down by the International ISO/IEC and American TIA/EIA standards, which in turn are different from the regional European standard, EN 50173-1. In broad terms, the ISO standard for CatÂ 6A is the highest, followed by the European standard, and then the American (1 on 1 matching capability).
When used for 10/100/1000BASE-T, the maximum allowed length of a CatÂ 6 cable is up to 100 meters (328Â ft). This consists of 90 meters (295Â ft) of solid "horizontal" cabling between the patch panel and the wall jack, plus 5 meters (16Â ft) of stranded patch cable between each jack and the attached device. For 10GBASE-T, an unshielded CatÂ 6 cable should not exceed 55 meters.
CategoryÂ 6 and 6A cable must be properly installed and terminated to meet specifications. The cable must not be kinked or bent too tightly (the bend radius should be at least four times the outer diameter of the cable). The wire pairs must not be untwisted and the outer jacket must not be stripped back more than 0.5Â in (12.7Â mm).
Cable shielding may be required in order to improve a CatÂ 6 cable's performance in high electromagnetic interference (EMI) environments. This shielding reduces the corrupting effect of EMI on the cable's data. Shielding is typically maintained from one cable end to the other using a drain wire that runs through the cable alongside the twisted pairs. The shield's electrical connection to the chassis on each end is made through the jacks. The requirement for ground connections at both cable ends creates the possibility that a ground loop may result if one of the networked chassis is at different instantaneous electrical potential with respect to its mate. This undesirable situation may compel currents to flow between chassis through the network cable shield, and these currents may in turn induce detrimental noise in the signal being carried by the cable.
CategoryÂ 6e is not a standard, and is frequently misused because categoryÂ 5 followed with 5e as an enhancement on categoryÂ 5. Soon after the ratification of CatÂ 6, a number of manufacturers began offering cable labeled as "CategoryÂ 6e". Their intent was to suggest their offering was an upgrade to the CategoryÂ 6 standardâ"presumably naming it after Category 5e. However, no legitimate CategoryÂ 6e standard exists, and CatÂ 6e is not a recognized standard by the Telecommunications Industry Association. CategoryÂ 7 is an ISO standard, but not a TIA standard. CatÂ 7 is already in place as a shielded cable solution with non-traditional connectors that are not backward-compatible with categoryÂ 3 through 6A. CategoryÂ 8 is the next UTP cabling offering to be backward compatible.
- "10 Gb/s Over Copper: Horizontal Cabling Choices". The Siemon Company. 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2015-02-13.Â Information on cable construction and alien crosstalk mitigation.
- Schmidt, John (Marchâ"April 2007). "Determining the Right Media" (PDF). BICSI News. 28 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-01-04.Â Information on TIA TSB-155 37m versus IEEE 55m limitations.
- "What Really Changes With CategoryÂ 6". The Siemon Company. Retrieved 2013-01-05.Â