Category 6 Overview



Industry standard

The Category 6 specification, published on June 20, 2002, by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is the latest structured cabling addition to the TIA-568 standard. In addition to full backward compatibility to Categories 5e, 5, and 3, the list of highlights include: testing specifications, increased bandwidth, and support for higher speed networks.

Improved testing specifications

Full system specification, including testing of components and patch cords to 250 MHz, ensures that the finished structured cabling system will be certified from end to end. This also will allow products from different manufacturers to interoperate and still deliver the same improved level of service.

Twice the bandwidth of Category 5e

Network bandwidth has always been a key factor in determining the potential speed and throughput of a data network. While Category 5e's 100 MHz rating was a vast improvement over Category 3's 16 MHz, the Category 6 standard provides for 250 MHz bandwidth. This improved performance will also increase the reliability of networks by reducing network errors and associated downtime. Emerging applications are much easier to implement on Category 6 than on Category 5e because of the superior transmission performance of the Category 6 cabling system.

Support for future networking standards

Ethernet standards for communication over local area networks has rapidly increased from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps in recent years, vastly increasing the speed of today's networks. While Category 5e cabling can support Gigabit Ethernet using the 1000BASE-T standard, 1000BASE-TX requires higher bandwidth than Category 5e provides. Because of the increased performance of Category 6 cabling, the 1000BASE-TX standard is able to take advantage of less costly and less complex circuitry, which should translate into a more cost-effective solution for consumers.

* Information provided by "Category 6 Cabling: A Standards and Systems Overview" Published by the Category 6 Consortium, August 2002.