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Category 6 (CAT6) Twisted Pair Cable
Last Updated: 01/31/2017
  • CAT5e 4 Pair UTP

    CAT6 “minimum compliant”

  • Cat5e U/UTP

    CAT6

  • Cat5e U/UTP

    CAT6 “Plus”

  • Cat5e U/UTP

    Typical RJ45 Plug

*Note that the number of twists per inch increases with each upgrade.

Description:

Conductor Gauge: 23 AWG

Construction: bare copper insulated conductors, assembled in tightly twisted pairs, in an overall jacket; may or may not include a core separator between pairs

MHz: 250 minimum

Speed: 1 -10 Gigabit depending on total distance

Distance Limitations: up to 100 meters (328 feet) maximum

Maximum Bend Radius (4 Pair): four times the outside diameter of the cable (roughly 1")

Maximum Pulling Tension for 4 Pair 23 AWG UTP: should not exceed 25 pounds force (25 lbf or 110 Newtons)

Application:

Data transfer within a network at 250MHz and 1 Gigabit speeds.

Installation Considerations:

If maximum bend radius or pulling tension is exceeded and results in damage to the cable, it is assumed to be irreversible and the cabling is typically replaced. Repositioning or easing the tension does not necessarily undo the damage.

When suspending a cable run it is generally recommended to space the support fixtures every 48"- 60" to avoid undue stress.

Conductor pairs should not be untwisted more than 1/2” when terminating to avoid performance problems.

Cable with a plenum rated jacket has a minimum installation temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Installing below this temperature could result in the jacket developing cracks.

Common Options:

  • CAT6e / CAT6+ / CAT6 Extreme – these are marketing terms not formally recognized by the industry. These are all considered simply CAT6, though there are physical differences that affect performance and price. Physical differences typically involve the number of twists per inch in the pairs and the presence and type of core separator between those pairs. The speed remains the same across all varieties; however, other parameters may be affected (i.e. insertion loss, NEXT, return loss). The higher end CAT6 is intended to provide more headroom to help mitigate potential problems in the installation (i.e. excessive bend in the cable). Consult the manufacturer’s product specs. for a complete list of all associated performance characteristics.
  • Plenum, PVC or Riser jacketed
  • Outdoor rated
  • Shielded or unshielded
  • Solid or stranded conductor
  • Mini CAT6 - 28 AWG pure copper conductors and .15" overall diameter (versus standard .215") used for short runs (typically 60 meters or less) in high density data center applications

Popular Manufacturers:

Related Industry Terms/Acronyms:

  • MHz (as it relates to category cable) – a unit of measure used to designate the transmission speed of a cable

  • OSP - Outside Plant cable is designed for use in an outdoor environment and suitable for direct burial, aerial, or underground conduit applications

  • Plenum – plenum-rated cable has a special insulation that has low-smoke and low-flame characteristics. Plenum rated cable is mandated to be installed in any plenum (air handling space)

  • Riser – riser-rated cable will not have the plenum characteristics, so the cost will be lower making it more cost-effective when installing in non-plenum areas (such as vertically between floors – hence “Riser” terminology)

  • Crosstalk – unintentional transfer of signals between channels (i.e. between 2 conductors within a network cable)

  • Insertion Loss - signal loss due to the insertion of an additional component or the creation of a splice within a continuous path

  • UTP - cable consisting of Unshielded Twisted Pairs surrounded by an outer jacket

  • STP (ScTP) - Shielded Twisted Pair cable encases the conductors in a shield (usually foil) as a means of reducing the potential for electromagnetic interference (EMI). The shield may also be composed of a braided screen (ScTP)

  • Cable OD – outside or overall diameter of a cable.

  • Bend Radius – the minimum radius a cable can be bent without kinking it, damaging it or shortening its life. When cabling is bent beyond the specified minimum it can cause transmission failures.

Comparison Chart:

CAT5e CAT6 CAT6A
Minimum 100MHz Minimum 250MHz Minimum 500MHz
1 gigabit *1 - 10 gigabit 10 gigabit
100 meters max. 100 meters max. 100 meters max.

* 10 gigabit speeds may be attained in lengths under 150 feet; also note that Category 6 has tighter insertion loss, NEXT, PS NEXT, ELFEXT and PS ELFEXT compared to CAT5e

See Also:

Further References:

  • BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Services International)
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.)
  • ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
  • TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association)
  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

Associated Videos:

How to use the EZ-RJ45 Connector from Platinum Tools



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