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You may have heard of Cat6 installations and have probably been advised to use them in your home network. The question is: what exactly are Cat6 installations and how will I benefit from them? Category 6 cables, widely known as Cat6 cables, are the successors of Cat5 and Cat5e cables. Cat5 is the most basic type of network cables and can handle up to 100 Mbps of Ethernet speed. Cat5e, the enhanced version of Cat5, allows faster transmission of data at speeds up to 1000 Mbps or 1 Gigabit per second. With the advance in technology, Cat5e have long been preferred over Cat5 cables in cable installations. In addition, Cat5e cables are also designed to handle interference better than Cat5 cables. CAt6 installations are very close to Cat5e installations. The key difference is the bandwidth. Cat6 cable has double the bandwidth as that of a Cat5e cable – from 100 MHz to 200 MHz – and can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet speed for up to 121 feet.
How then, are Cat6 installations more advantageous than the regular and more commonly used Cat5 cables? The answer depends on the demand that is expected from the network. Because most home networks rarely have the need for wider bandwidths, Cat5 or Cat5e cables are more often used. Cat5 are present in older installations while Cat5e are present in newer ones. Cat6 installations are also more costly and will require that all components of the network support Gigabit Ethernet. Although Cat6 cables are backward-compatible, you will not be able to take advantage of the perks you paid for unless all the other components of your network are on the same level as Cat6. Now, this is a problem because generally, there are more products produced for Cat5 compatibility than products fully compatible with Cat6 installations. Cat6 installations are also more expensive and more difficult to work with. Although Cat6 will function just as well in residential properties, the demand for Cat6 in home networks is low simply because Cat5e cables can handle the regular user’s network demands just fine.