Cat6 and Cat6a Copper Cable Differences

As the data speeds increase from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet, cables for the network connection are also required to be improved. Cat6 and Cat6a are two kinds of copper cables for Gigabit Ethernet. “A” is short for “augmented”. Cat6a is an enhanced Cat6 cable. Do you know which you should use, Cat6 or Cat6a? Could these two categories replace each other? Now this article will tell some of their differences from several sides.

cat6-and-cat6a

Appearance

It’s not difficult to identify Cat6 and Cat6a cables from appearance. If you look at the jacket carefully, you will find the identifiers printed as Cat6 and Cat6a. You can also distinguish these two cables from thickness. Cat6a cables are much thicker than Cat6 cables.

Shielding

Copper cables have shielded twisted pair (STP) and unshielded twisted pair (UTP). STP cable means there is one or more additional jackets surrounding the inner twisted wire pairs for insulation. The shielding is beneficial for protecting cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI). (For more information about STP vs. UTP difference, you can refer to my blog “STP vs. UTP, Which One Is Better?” .) Cat6 and Cat6a cables also include these two types. Though shielded Cat6 cables are available in the market, unshielded versions are easier to get. On the contrary, shielded Cat6a cables are more common.

Transmission Distance

Cat6 cable can support the transmission distance up to 100 meters at the data rate of 10, 100, 1000 Mbps. But it can support only 55 meters at the speed of 10 Gbps when crosstalk is in an ideal situation. What’s worse, the transmission distance can only reach 33 meters when the crosstalk is high. So the lengths of Cat6 cables are influenced by the network speed and crosstalk conditions. While Cat6a cables can support the distance over 100 meters at the speed of 10 Gbps.

Cost

Take Fiberstore as an example, the average cost of 1m Cat6 cable is about 1.00 US$ and more than 3.00 US$ for 1m Cat6a cable (cables maybe more expensive on other sites.). The more cables you purchase, the bigger the price difference will be. And the price difference is not only caused by the cable. Other matched connection components should also be considered.

Durability

As mentioned above, Cat6a cable is thicker and heavier than Cat6 cable. Cable trays can not hold as many Cat6a cables as Cat6 cables. When laying cables on the trays, you should better not bend cables too much as this can damage the wiring and influence network performance. The minimum radius that a cable can be bent without damaging is called the bend radius. The lower the bend radius, the more you can bend the cable. As Cat6a cable is bulkier than Cat6, Cat6a cable has a larger bend radius than Cat6 cable.

Which One Should You Buy?

Although Cat5e cable can meet the current needs in your home or office, higher bandwidth will be required in the near future. So you should upgrade your network with Cat6 or Cat6a cables which can provide greater bandwidth. At that time, you need to figure out which one to buy. If you install cables in a small room or business offices where cables might get close to one another, then Cat6a is better than Cat6 due to the alien crosstalk. Cat6 cables especially the unshielded cables, are much more prone to alien crosstalk than Cat6a, which uses superior insulation to protect its wiring.

Summary

From this article, you can make a clear identification of Cat6 and Cat6a cables. When you plan to purchase cables, you need to consider their differences like shielding, transmission distance, cost, durability, etc. Hope you can choose the suitable cable and build a high performance network.

Originally published at http://www.fiber-optic-equipment.com

STP vs. UTP, Which One Is Better?

When you prepare to buy Ethernet cables, you have to choose between STP (shielded twisted pair) and UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cables. That’s really difficult to decide if you don’t have enough knowledge of these two kinds of cables. Do you want to know more? Read this article and you will find the answer.

Why Are There STP and UTP Cables?

In data communication, electromagnetic interference (EMI) exists in cables. EMI, also called radio frequency interference (FRI), is a disturbance. This disturbance is caused by an external source affecting an electrical circuit by electrostatic coupling, electromagnetic induction, or conduction. The external source can be natural or man-made. For example, the natural sources include the sun, thunder storms, etc., while the man-made sources are vehicle ignition systems, cell phones, etc. EMI may cause data error and influence the transmission quality of cabling systems. In consideration of decreasing or avoiding EMI, shielding is one of the methods applied to protect cabling systems.

What Are STP Cables?

STP cable has a shield inside which is composed of copper tape, a layer of conducting polymer or a braid (made of copper or aluminum mostly). There are different types of shielding, such as braided shield, foil and screening. That makes different levels of shielding, including STP, SSTP (screened shielded twisted pair), FTP (foil twisted pair). The shield can be applied to each one of the pairs in a cable or to all pairs together.

stp-ceble

Advantages of STP Cables

First, the shield of STP cables can reduce EMI. It’s good for increasing data transmission quality in buildings containing microwave equipment, HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) systems or radio transmitters. It blocks interference generated from devices such as power tools and vacuum cleaners. Although UTP cables are still able to reduce interference, their performance is not as good as STP cables.

Second, STP cables can reduce crosstalk with proper installation and maintenance. STP cables can resist signals from passing through the outer coating and entering nearby wires by accident because of the special cable constructure. STP cables are quite necessary for dealing with crosstalk especially when your building contains numerous network devices.

What Are UTP Cables?

UTP cables don’t have shielding to reduce interference. UTP cables reduce EMI through the way that the pairs are twisted inside the cable. Thus, UTP cables are lighter and thinner than STP cables.

utp-cale

Advantages of UTP Cables

First, easier to install and maintain. UTP cables contain no shields and they are thinner than STP cables, which is easier for cable installation and maintenance, particularly in limited space. While the shields of STP cables are quite fragile and rigid. If the shield suffered damage, cabling systems are likely to be affected by interference. What’s worse, it’s not easy to be repaired and needs special handling.

Second, more flexible. UTP cables are comparatively lighter. On one side, it makes the installation, transport and maintenance work easier. On the other side, it makes UTP cables more suitable to be used in narrow space.

Third, fewer cost. UTP cables are cheaper than STP cables. So are the related hardware. Besides, as mentioned above, UTP cables are easy to install and maintain. You don’t have to spend too much money on maintenance since UTP cables don’t rely on an outer shield. So they are beneficial to save you investment on installation and maintenance.

Applications

Due to different characteristics, the two types of cables are used in different environment.

STP cables are often used in situations nearby equipment causing EMI. For example, airports, medical centers and factories have lots of machines that can produce interference, so STP cables are typically applied. STP cables are also useful when cables must be run next to fluorescent lights, microwave ovens or powerful motors. What’s more, STP cables can be used in outdoor settings. Some people connect outdoor surveillance cameras to STP wiring. In that way, the video feed can avoid the interference generated by vehicles and power lines. And it can stop criminals from using jammers to interrupt communications between cameras and indoor monitors or recording equipment.

UTP cables are suitable to be used in offices and homes. They are less expensive than STP cables. So if the interference or crosstalk is not your main concern, you are suggested to choose UTP cables for saving you cabling cost. Remember not to select UTP cables if your place is full of powerful magnetic fields which can slow down the network speed or cause the network failure. Therefore, you’d better carefully evaluate the potential sources of interference.

Conclusion

Choosing the right cable can improve your network performance and extend the life span of your equipment. Before making the decision, it’s important to get well known of STP and UTP cables. You must know exactly each one’s advantages and application areas. If you need better anti-interference capabilities, you can select STP cables. If you put cost as the first factor, you may choose UTP cables. For both kinds of cables, you can find in FS.COM. Any question, please contact us via sales@fs.com.

Originally published at http://www.fiber-optic-equipment.com

Which Ethernet Cable Should You Choose?

Ethernet cable is one of the media transmitting signals to a home or business network place. Although the world is going wireless today, Ethernet cable is still used in many situations due to its advantages of fast speed, high reliability and security. But when you decide to buy the Ethernet cables, you will get confused about which category to choose. This article will discuss how to make your decision among these Ethernet cables like Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat7.

Ethernet Cables Types
Cat5 Cable

Cat5 cable can handle 10/100 Mbps speed (Fast Ethernet) at the bandwidth up to 100 MHz. Cat5 cable is the oldest of these three kinds of cables. Over the years, Cat5 cable was used majorly in networking especially when pairing older routers, switches and other myriad networking devices. Nowadays it’s not used for too many installations. But it can support gigabit speeds if the cable is shorter sometimes.

cat-5-cable

Cat5e Cable

The letter “e” means “enhanced”. As the name says, Cat5e is an improvement on Cat5 cable. Currently it’s the most popular cable used in new installations. It’s designed to support 1000 Mbps or gigabit speed. It can also greatly reduce the crosstalk. The crosstalk is the interference existing sometimes between wires that are sealed inside a cable. With this feature, Cat5e can better keep signals on different circuits or channels from interfering with each other. In a word, Cat5e cable can provide a faster, more reliable and steady network than Cat5. And Cat5e is also compatible with Cat5 cable.

cat5e-cable

Cat6 Cable

Cat6 is an improvement over Cat5e. It has more sophisticated constructure and can support the speed up to 10 gigabit and the bandwidth up to 550 MHz over long distances. Cat6 is a good choice for those who want to install future-proof network. But Cat6 cable is not very good for the applications at home. This kind of cable is recommended for large organizations which deal with pretty bulk files.

cat6

Cat7 Cable

Cat7 cable is designed to be used in Gigabit Ethernet and can support bandwidth up to 600 MHz. It greatly improves the capacity and reliability of Cat6. Another big advantage of Cat7 is the shielding of its twisted pairs, which significantly improves noise resistance. Cat7 is thought as the most durable and has a longer lifespan than Cat 5 and Cat 6. It’s the best choice for future use. But it’s comparatively expensive.

cat-7-cable

Which One Should You Choose?

First, you need to think about the question seriously how you like your current network speed. If you are satisfied with the current network speed, you don’t need to upgrade it. But if your hardware can handle 1 Gigabit and you are still using Cat5 cable, then you should better upgrade your Ethernet cables. You may choose Cat5e cable which is enough for your network needs. Or you can select Cat6 cable.

Second, you should know that network speed is not the same to internet speed. There is a chance that even though you upgrade your Ethernet cable, your internet speed won’t change too much. As it’s affected by many other factors. However, upgrading networking cables have a tremendous effect on file transfer speeds between computers. So to emphasize, when buying Ethernet cable, you should also consider your hardware compatibility.

Conclusion

From this article, you can find it’s not very hard to decide which kind of Ethernet cable to use. To make the right decision, it depends on your situations. Usually Cat5 or Cat5e cable is enough for home network use. If you transfer lots of data over your network, then you can upgrade your network cables from Cat5 to Cat5e or Cat6 to guarantee your network speed. But if you are satisfied with your current network speed, you don’t need to replace Cat5 with other cables. Of course, the cost is also an important factor. So if budget allows, Cat7 is a nice choice. At last, no matter what kind of cable, please notice that the Ethernet cable should be less than 100 meters in length to achieve higher efficiency.

Originally published at http://www.fiber-optic-equipment.com

How to Make Your Own Ethernet Cables?

Ethernet patch cables are indispensable for network. However, Ethernet patch cables are more expensive than bulk cables and the pre-terminated lengths are not always that you need. So it’s quite necessary to know how to wire Ethernet cable by yourself. This article will show you detailed steps of making your own Ethernet patch cable.

Materials You Need

Bulk Ethernet cable

Usually people will choose Cat5e cable. Cat5e cable is a little different from Cat5. It can handle data rate up to 1000Mbps. Cat5e is suitable for Gigabit Ethernet and experiences much lower levels of near-end crosstalk (NEXT) than Cat5. So in most applications, Cat5 has been superseded by Cat5e. Except Cat5e, you may also choose Cat6 cables which have better performance. Cat6 cable has twice the bandwidth of Cat5. It’s ideal for supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Select the cable type and then buy the lengths of the cable you need.

RJ45 Connectors for Cat5e or for Cat6

RJ45 connectors are often used for telephone and network. RJ45 connectors include a variety of types for Cat 5e or Cat6, such as shielded, strain relief boots, 2 prong or 3 prong, etc. Whatever, you need to select the one suitable for your application. Fiberstore provides plenty of RJ45 connectors meeting a high standard of safety quality.

RJ-45 Crimping Tool

RJ45 crimping tool is designed to quickly, strip, crimp and cut the wires in an easy operation. We supply various types of high quality crimping tools. With this kind of tool, you can get precise and reliable terminations every time.

Steps for Wiring Ethernet Cable

Step 1. Strip Outer Sheath

Use your stripper on your crimping tool to strip 1 inch (2.5 cm) sheath from the end of the cable. Insert the cable into the stripper portion of the crimping tool and squeeze it tight. When squeezed, rotate the crimping tool around the cable a full 360°. At last, pull away and the sheath will be stripped. If you break the internal twisted wires by accident, just cut the broken wire and strip again. So when you measure the cable length, you should better leave spare inches in case things happen like this.

Step 2. Untwist and Arrange Wire

After stripping the sheath, you can find 8 color-coded wires inside. Then you need to untwist the internal wires and arrange them into a proper wiring scheme for RJ45 connector. There are two kinds of color codes standards: T568A and T568B. The color order is important to get correct. No matter which standards you choose, you should arrange the color-coded wires in the same order on both sides. Here recommend you T568B color-coded wiring. The following are about pins and colors used in T568B standards.

Pin1—White/Orange
Pin2—Orange
Pin3—White/Green
Pin4—Blue.
Pin5—White/Blue
Pin6—Green.
Pin7—White/Brown
Pin8—Brown

Step 3. Insert the wire into RJ45 connector

Before insert the wire into RJ45 connector, you need to cut down the wire to fit in the connector. Bring the wires together and cut them down in an even line with the cutting tool on the crimping tool. Then insert the wires into the connector in the right order. Ensure each wire fits into each groove in the connector. The wires should be inserted until the sheathing is inside the connector, just beyond the crimp portion of the connector.

Step 4. Crimp

Put the connector into the crimping tool carefully until the connector can’t go in any further. Squeeze the crimping tool very tightly and release. Then squeeze the the crimping tool again to make sure that all of the pins are pushed down on the connector. When finishing crimping, check that if all pins are all crimped down. If the pins are all down, tug the connector slightly to make sure that it is securely attached to the wire.

Step 5. Test

Before installing the cable, you should better take a test with an Ethernet cable tester. If the Ethernet cable doesn’t work, look closely at each end and see if you can find the problem. Usually the problem is caused because a wire ends up in the wrong place or one of the wires makes no contact or poor contact. You should also check if the color is in the right order. If the color order is wrong, then cut the end off and start again.

Summary

Sure, you can buy Ethernet cables from the store directly. But if you need to make your own cable with special lengths, then you are lucky to read this article. Remember that the Ethernet cable should be no more than 100 meters or 328 feet. Because the cable performance will be influenced by the over length. For bulk cables, RJ45 connectors, crimping tools, and network testers, etc., you can get all from Fiberstore. Hope you can make your own Ethernet cable successfully.

Originally published at Fiber Optic Equipment Solutions | FS.COM – WDM products, 10G/40G/100G transceivers, Patch Cords, Cables, etc

How to Distinguish T568A and T568B of RJ45 Ethernet Cable Wiring?

Ethernet cable can be easily found in our daily life. Ethernet cable is color-coded if you look at it carefully. Color-coded wiring sequences exist as a cabling industry standard. Thus, cabling technicians can save a lot of time of doing cable termination on both ends by following others’ work without guessing or deciphering the function and connections of each wire pair. This article will tell the T568A and T568B standards that the Ethernet cable jack wiring follows.

What Are T568A and T568B standards?

RJ45 conductor data cable contains 4 pairs of wires. Each one consists of a solid colored wire and a strip of the same color. There are two wiring standards for RJ45 wiring: T568A and T568B. T568A and T568B are the two wiring standards for RJ45 connector data cable. T568A was specified by TIA/EIA-568-A wiring standards in 1995. Later it was replaced by the TIA/EIA 568-B standard in 2002 and has been updated since. Both standards define the T568A and T568B pin-outs for using unshielded twisted pair cable and RJ45 connectors for Ethernet connectivity. These two standards and pin-out specification appear to be related and interchangeable. But they still have differences and should not be used interchangeably.

t568a-and-t568b

RJ45 Color-Coded Scheme

RJ45 cables have 8 color-coded wires and the plugs have 8 pins and conductors. Eight wires are used as 4 pairs, each representing positive and negative polarity. The following figure shows pin and colors used in the T568A and T568B standards.

rj45

Straight-through and Cross-over Connections

The wiring standards T568A and T568B are used to create a cross-over cable (T568A on one end, and T568B on the other end), or a straight-through cable (T568B or T568A on both ends).

Straight-through cables are used to connect computers to a Ethernet switch. The RJ45 cable uses only 2-pairs of wires: orange (pins 1, 2) and green (pins 3, 6). Pins 4, 5 (blue) and 7, 8 (brown) are not used. Straight-through cable connects pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, pin 3 to pin 3, and pin 6 to pin 6.

straight-through-cable

Cross-over cable is used to network two computers without a Ethernet switch (hub). Cross-over cable connects pin 1 to pin 3, pin 2 to pin 6, pin 3 to pin 1 and pin 6 to pin 2. This kind of cable is used to connect TX+ (transmit) to RX+ (receive), and TX- to RX-. The unused pins are generally connected straight-through in both straight-through and cross-over cables.

cross-over-cable

Which Standard Should You Choose?

Actually there is no electrical difference between the T568A and T568B wire sequences. So it’s hard to tell which one is inherently better. The difference between the two is the position of the orange and green wire pairs. It is preferable to wire to T568B standards if there is no pre-existing pattern used within a building.

In fact, both standards are acceptable in most cases. You can use either one as long as you’re consistent. T568B is the standard followed by the majority of Ethernet installations in the United States for RJ45 color code. It is the more common standard used when cabling for businesses. While T568A is the majority standard followed by European and Pacific countries. It is also used in all United States government installations. So when you face the selection, you may make the decision on the country you work in and what types of organizations you install for.

Conclusion

T568A and T568B are the two wiring standards for RJ45 connector data cable specified by TIA/EIA-568-A wiring standards document. Color-coding is part of the standards. If modifying the Ethernet cables improperly, signal loss of network connectivity can be caused. So please insure all connectors and cables are modified in accordance with standards when you do cable terminations.

Originally published at http://www.fiber-optic-equipment.com