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CAT5 and CAT5e/CAT5E Cables

CAT5 is an Ethernet network cable standard defined by the Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA). CAT5 is the fifth generation of twisted pair Ethernet technology. CAT5 cable usually contains four pairs of copper wire and supports Fast Ethernet speeds up to 100 Mbps, and utilizes two of the pairs. CAT5e/CAT5E (a.k.a. CAT5 enhanced) supports Gigabit Ethernet speeds up to 1000 Mbps, and utilizes all four of the pairs. The bandwidth (data transfer rate) of CAT5 is rated at 100Mhz.  The CAT5e and CAT5E are the same cable; the only difference is the CAT5e designation is tested for a rating of at least 100Mhz, while the CAT5E is tested for a rating of at least 350Mhz. CAT5e/CAT5E cable also allows less crosstalk or “bleeding” of signals between cables. CAT5e/CAT5E is backward compatible with CAT5. CAT5 / CAT5e / CAT5E twisted pair cable is available in a solid or stranded version. Solid cable is better suited to longer runs while stranded cable is more pliable and better suited to shorter distances, particularly patch cabling. While other cable technologies are emerging, CAT5 / CAT5e / CAT5E is currently the popular choice for most LANs as Ethernet equipment is both affordable and supports high speeds. Unless you have an environment with lots of interference from power lines, lights and manufacturing or a network where every component is gigabit rated, CAT5 / CAT5e /CAT5E is perfectly suitable.