Ethernet Cable Assembly Classes
CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6a, CAT7

Network Cable Standards

Category 5 cable

Category 5 (CAT5) cable is a multi-pair (usually 4 pair) high performance cable that consists of twisted pair conductors, used mainly for data transmission. Basic CAT5 cable was designed for characteristics of up to 100 MHz. CAT5 cable is typically used for LAN Ethernet networks running at 10 or 100 Mbps. Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) construction makes the cable highly cost-effective for data networks.

Category 5e 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.

CAT5e has stricter specifications for Power Sum Equal-Level Far-End Crosstalk (PS-ELFEXT), Near-End Crosstalk (NEXT), Attenuation, and Return Loss (RL) than those for CAT5. Like CAT5, CAT5e is a 100-MHz standard, but it has the capacity to handle bandwidth superior to that of CAT5. VPI's selection of CAT5e cables feature Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) construction for cost-effective connections.

Category 6 Cable

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 throughput will perform at a CAT5e level. VPI offers both Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and Screened Shielded Twisted Pair (SSTP) CAT6 cables.

Category 6a Cable

Category 6a (CAT6a), also known as Augmented Category 6, requires a cable to operate at a minimum of 500Mhz and provide up to 10 Gigabits of bandwidth. The CAT6a standard also includes a new measurement called Power-Sum Alien Crosstalk to 500 MHz. CAT6a cables will reduce the interference on a 10GBASE-T network caused by Alien Crosstalk thereby improving network performance. VPI's selection of CAT6a cables feature Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) construction for cost-effective connections.

Category 7 Cable

Category 7 (CAT7) cable, also known as Class F, requires a cable to operate at a minimum of 600Mhz and provide up to 10 Gigabits of bandwidth. To further reduce interference, CAT7 cable requires individually fully shielded twisted pairs. Screened Shielded Twisted Pair (SSTP), also referred to as Screened Foiled Twisted Pair (SFTP) all but eliminates alien crosstalk and greatly improves noise resistance making it the ideal networking cable in high EMI environments such as power stations, data centers, factories, and hospitals.

VPI offers a full range of Network Cables and Accessories including patch cords, cable assemblies, bulk cable, RJ45 plugs, keystone jacks, crimping tools, and cable testers.

Network Cable Specification Comparison
Specification CAT5 CAT5e CAT6 CAT6a CAT7
Frequency 100 MHz 100 MHz 250 MHz 500 MHz 600 MHz
Attenuation (Insertion Loss)* 24 dB 24 dB 19.8 dB 18.4 dB 20.8 dB
Characteristic Impedence 100 ohms
15
100 ohms
15
100 ohms
15
100 ohms
15
100 ohms
15
NEXT * 27.1 dB 30.1 dB 44.3 dB 59 dB 62.1 dB
PS-NEXT * N/A 27.1 dB 42.3 dB 59.1 dB 59.1 dB
ELFEXT * 17.9 dB 17.4 dB 27.8 dB 43.1 dB Not Specified
PS-ELFEXT * 14.4 dB 14.4 dB 24.8 dB 41.8 dB Not Specified
Return Loss * 16 dB 20.1 dB 20.1 dB 32 dB 14.1 dB
Delay Skew * 50 ns 45 ns 45 ns 45 ns 20 ns
*Min. at 100MHz
Cat 5e Cables / Cat 5e Cords Cat 6 Cables / Cat 6 Cords Shielded Cat 6 Cables/Cords
Super Flat Cat5e Cables / Flat Cat5e Cords Super Flat Shielded Cat5e Cables/Cords Super Flat Cat6 Cat 5e/Cat 6 Bulk Cable