By Bethany Hunt (All rights reserved.)
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When your computer sends data across your network some data packets are lostor corrupted along the way. These packets have to be resent by thesystem. The better the signal to noise ratio is on your network, the lessoften this happens.
As computer networks become faster, the signal tonoise ratio becomes more important. If the network is racking up packetsthat must be resent faster than it can resend them, the network may eventuallyfail or slow to a crawl with the backlog. Using cable with a better signalto noise ratio, like Cat6, can help to prevent this potential problem.
Aside from the signal to noise ratio, the Cat 6standard calls for 250 MHz of bandwidth rather than the 100 MHz called for bythe Cat 5e standard. At this point in time, it is unlikely that yourcomputer and networking equipment are able to utilize this extrabandwidth. In the future, however, networking products may bedeveloped to transmit over a greater range of frequency.
"Plenum" is a fire safety rating required in some types ofinstallations in some cities. Plenumcable has a jacket made of Teflon rather than PVC. The Teflon burnsmore slowly and gives off less poisonous gas when on fire. That way if thecable is in a space shared by a return air duct, the cable won't send poisonousgas throughout the building's ventilation system during a fire.
The word "plenum" does not indicate any kind of improved datatransmission performance. It only refers to the materials in the jacket.
At this point in time, it is highly unlikely thatyour computer and networking equipment actually have the ability to transmitacross a greater range of bandwidth than 100 MHz. In the future, however,equipment may developed to transmit over a greater range of frequency.
Cat 5e 350 MHz is a good way to future proof yourcable if the cost of Cat 6 is prohibitive. That said, we generallyrecommend either the regular Cat 5e or the Cat 6. When you pay extra for Cat 5e350 MHz, you're basically paying for testing. That testing may or maynot be worth the extra cost to you.
Yes. Forget about making neat, tightlycinched bundles when you use Cat6. The key to a good Cat 6 installation is to keep the cable"loose and loopy." That means no hard bends and nostrangling-tight cableties.
Correctly installed Cat 6 will give you the Cat6 performance you're going for. Poorly installed Cat 6 may not eventest out to Cat 5e specs.
Keep it loopy; keep it loose. If you dothat, you'll be good to go.
For a system to be rated at Cat6, all components will need to be Cat 6components. However, Cat6 is fully backward compatible with Cat5e, so feel free to use all the Cat 5e components you want if you don't careabout the technical system rating.
Using Cat6 cable with Cat 5e components can be a great way to future proof if youdon't have the money to spend on a fully Cat 6 system. Jacksand patch panels are relatively easy toswitch out if need be in the future. Cable,however, is tough to do anything to once the walls are up.
As far as EIA/TIA standards go, these ratings donot exist. If you see cable called "Cat 7" (or some other highernumber), that is just a name that that company made up to put on theircable. If you want your cable box to say "Cat 7" (or somethingsimilar) we'd be happy to take a box of cable and write "Cat 7" on itin magic marker.
Cat6 is currently (as of 7/20/04) the highest category cable rating thatexists.
Most people use Cat3 for phones, and that is what we recommend. Some people use Cat5e just in case they decide to use their telephone network for data at alater date or because they're doing a large job and only want to have to contendwith one type of cable rather than keep track of dozens of boxes of differentkinds. Every once in a while someone will use Cat6 for phones--wow, nice phones.
Unless there's a chance you might use your phonenetwork as a data network in the future, we highly recommend Cat3.
First figure out what you're installing itfor. If you're putting it in to run regular cabletelevision (CATV)or master antenna television (MATV),you don't need coax with special sweep-testing. But if you're planning tohook up a satellite system (SATV),we recommend coaxthat is sweep-tested to 3 GHz. In any of these cases, you want RG-6.
Then it comes down to the shielding. A 40%braid is a loose braid and is the most economical. RG-6 40% Braid isgenerally used in places like motels where getting perfect reception isn'tterribly important. A 60% braid is the standard braid for RG-6. Mostprofessional installers use RG-660% braid. RG-6 QuadShield is the premium choice for RG-6 cable. Unlike standard RG-6 which has one foil and one braid for shielding, RG-6QuadShield has two braids and two foils. Most people choosing the cablefor their own systems choose RG-6 QuadShield.