Performance Categories

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Performance Categories

 

Modular Jack Performance Categories

Short for category, CAT is a term used to define wire or cables for Ethernet and other telecommunication and networking applications. These cables are often recognized by the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association).

Engineering options

Many different network cables are available and are classified by different categories; CAT-1 to CAT-7. See the summary below.

CAT-1: Standard telephone wiring or ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network). (Not recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-2: Wiring for 4 Mbit/s token ring networks. (Not recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-3: For data networks using frequencies up to 16 MHz. Also, for use with 10 Mbps Ethernet networks (100Base-T) but has been replaced by CAT 5 cable. (Defined in TIA/EIA-568-B.)

CAT-4: For networks supporting frequencies up to 20 MHz and also used on 16 Mbps token ring networks. (Not recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-5: Was mainly used for 100Base-T and 1000Base-T networks providing data transfer rates of 100 Mbps, and 125 MHz for 1000Base-T Ethernet. CAT 5 cable replaced CAT 3 and for many years was the standard for Ethernet wiring. Now obsolete, having been replaced by CAT 5e. (Not recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-5e: For 100 Base-T and 1000Base-t (Gigabit Ethernet), CAT 5e is short for “CAT 5 enhanced” and superseded CAT 5. Physically the same as CAT 5, CAT 5e is produced with higher specifications to allow faster data speeds up to 125 Mbps. (Recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-6: Higher performance over CAT 5e supporting speeds up to 10 Gbps over a maximum cable length of 55m. Wiring is shielded to protect against crosstalk and noise interference. (Recognized by the TIA.)

CAT-6a: The “a” in CAT 6a is short for “augmented”. CAT 6a cable can support 2x the maximum bandwidth and can support faster transmission over longer cable lengths.

CAT-7: This cable is used where 600Mbps frequencies are required.

Ethernet cable performance summary

Category

Shielding

Max transmission speed
(At 100m)

Max Bandwidth

CAT-3

Unshielded

10 Mbps

16 MHz

CAT-5

Unshielded

10/100 Mbps

100 MHz

CAT-5e

Unshielded

1000 Mbps / 1 Gbps

100 MHz

CAT-6

Shielded or Unshielded

1000 Mbps / 1 Gbps

>250 MHz

CAT-6a

Shielded

10000 Mbps / 10 Gbps

500 MHz

CAT-7

Shielded

10000 Mbps / 10 Gbps

600 MHz


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