Does My Office Need Cat5e Or Cat6 Cabling?

Posted February 9th, 2019 by F4GKcb4Y

Does My Office Need Cat5e or Cat6 Cabling?


Steve Norris

We have seen a growing percentage of installed data cabling shift from Cat5e to Cat6 in the past year. A common question we hear, since there is a substantial price difference between the two, is do I really need Cat6 and gigabit capacity internally?

What is the difference between the two? Essentially both cable types are rated for distances up to 90M, but the difference lies in the data carrying capacity of each cable. Cat5e is a 100Mbit/s cable, and Cat6 is a gigabit cable standard. Gigabit = 1,000Mbit/s, or roughly ten times as fast at Cat5e.

Cat5e cable, or Category 5 cable, is a copper standard for 100Mbit/s transport speed. Cat5e (enhanced) replaced the old Cat5 standard. Each Cat5e cable actually can carry 100Mbit worth of data per second.

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Is this adequate for your network? In order to answer this, it is good to know a few more details about your network. Do you use an internal server that hosts databases or bandwidth intense features? Do you only use the data connection in your office for internet browsing? Do you use a VOIP telephone system?

It is common for the average business to use a T-1 worth of bandwidth or greater. An average T-1 connection is 1.5Mbit/s, so if the main use of your data usage is browsing the internet, the 100Mbit/s connection with Cat5e cable will never be a cause for lack of network performance.

If you use very bandwidth intensive applications hosted on a common server, and you need real time performance internally, you may actually use a large portion of that available bandwidth.

If you use a VOIP telephone system, remember that each voice conversation only represents 64kb. On a Cat5e cable that supports 100Mbit/s, you can actually handle up to 1562 conversations at one time across each Cat5e cable. Unless you are using bandwidth intensive applications internally, Cat5e capacity and performance should not be an issue with VOIP systems. If you phone system is not VOIP, most digital phones operate on a single pair of wires, and they are often best accommodated with Cat3 cabling.

As more and more businesses turn to fiber optic data connections to the internet, higher bandwidth internally becomes a necessity. Not only does Cat6 cable represent a higher installation cost, it will also require gigabit switches internally to handle the faster gigabit speeds. If 10/100 switches or standard 100Mbit switches are used with Cat6 cabling, the actual performance of the cabling is limited to smallest transport mechanism. Cat6 Cabling also requires the more expensive Cat6 Patch Panels and Cat6 jacks.

If your office is using a fiber connection, or if your office uses bandwidth intensive applications, Cat6 cable may need to be a consideration. We recommend that you speak to your local Cabling Contracting Experts to help make a recommendation that best suits your application and budget.

Steve Norris is a Texas based cabling contractor that provides

Cat6 Cabling

solutions and

Cat5e Cabling


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