Even though modern home networks are connected using wireless technology, there are cases when you will still need to use LAN cables. When a wireless signal can’t reach a portion of a house or an office, cables might be your only option.
You’ll encounter several cable type designators with names like CAT5, CAT5e, and CAT6. CAT5 cable is the minimum required for the current Internet standards. CAT5e cable is a higher grade version of CAT5, and CAT6 cable is commonly used for Gigabit Ethernet, an up-and-coming version of Ethernet that operates at 10 times the speed of Fast Ethernet. CAT6 cable costs more than CAT5e but is worth the extra money if you want to future-proof your cable installation.
So what is a CAT6 cable and how is it different from the older types? Category 6 cable contains four pairs of twisted wires, just like earlier copper cable standards but it has higher speed and noise reduction properties than the older Cat5.
it supports the next-generation Ethernet technology called the Gigabit Ethernet which operates at 10 times the speed of 100Base-T networks. Gigabit products typically cost more than the current 100 mbps Fast Ethernet, and most Gigabit products are designed for business networks. Unless you really need the additional speed of Gigabit, 100 mbps provides more than enough speed for most home network applications.
Of course, if you plan to setup a Gigabit Ethernet, make sure that you have the LAN card that supports that speed. As an inexpensive alternative solution to fiber-optic, the card allows you to instantly upgrade to Gigabit without requiring you to install new, expensive fiber cables.
If you want to have a future-proof connection in your office or home, spending a little higher for Cat6 and Gigabit Ethernet cards is worth the money. You will also find Cat6 setups easier to maintain and install than fiber optic networks.
Ben Carigtan shows you how it’s done.