Cabling Standards include: Category 3: 10Mbps Category 5: 100Mbps Category 5e: Rated for 100Mbps and gigabit networks Category 6: Rated for 100 Mbps and gigabit networks
Category 3 cable, commonly known as Cat 3 or station wire, and less commonly known as VG or Voice-grade (as, for example, in 100BaseVG), is an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable used in telephone wiring.
It is part of a family of copper cabling standards defined jointly by the Electronic Industries Alliance and the Telecommunications Industry Association and defined inTIA/EIA-568-B. Although designed to reliably carry data up to 10 Mbit/s, modern data networks run at much higher speeds, and Cat5e or Cat6 is now used for all new installations – and many large institutions require any repairs or additions to existing buildings that currently use Cat3 to be upgraded to Cat5e.
Category 5 cable, commonly referred to as cat 5, is a twisted pair cable for carrying signals. This type of cable is used instructured cabling for computer networks such as Ethernet. The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), and 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet). Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.
This cable is commonly connected using punch-down blocks and modular connectors. Most category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the balanced line twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise rejection.
Category 5 was superseded by the category 5e (enhanced) specification, and later category 6 cable.
Category 5e (CAT5e) cable, also known as Enhanced Category 5, is designed to support full-duplex Fast Ethernet operation and Gigabit Ethernet. The main differences between CAT5 and CAT5e can be found in the specifications. The performance requirements have been raised slightly in the new standard (see comparison chart below).
Category 6 (CAT6) cable provides higher performance than CAT5e and features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise.
The quality of the data transmission depends upon the performance of the components of the channel. To transmit according to CAT6 specifications, jacks, patch cables, patch panels, cross-connects, and cabling must all meet CAT6 standards. The CAT6 components are tested individually, and they are also tested together for performance. In addition, the standard calls for generic system performance so that CAT6 components from any vendor can be used in the channel.
All CAT6 components must be backward compatible with CAT5e, CAT5, and CAT3. If different category components are used with CAT6 components, then the channel will achieve the transmission performance of the lower category. For instance, if CAT6 cable is used with CAT5e jacks, the channel will perform at a CAT5e level.
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