Almost every home and office has a computer and access to the internet. Some computers access the internet using wireless technology such as wifi others use an Ethernet cable to connect. The Ethernet cable is plugged in to a modem, switch or router via an RJ45 Ethernet socket. There are various specifications of cable available. Cat5e is the most commonly used Ethernet cable which has almost replaced the slower Cat5 standard. Cat6 is usually used in office environments and newer network installations as it offers reliably higher speeds when using longer cable runs. Try Cables2u.co.uk if you are looking for a new Ethernet cable.
Cat5 cable is capable of speeds up to 100 Mbps. Cat5e cable works at speeds up to 1000 Mbps. The only caveat being the longer the length of cable the slower the speed. The maximum length for a cat5e cable is 100 meters. In theory you should be able to get speeds of 1000 Mbps (Gigabit network speed) but in practice these speeds are only achievable at shorter distance runs up to 30 meters when using a Cat5e cable. Quality of cable is also an issue. Using a shielded cable helps as this reduces problems associated with crosstalk. Crosstalk is caused by Electromagnetic Interference from other cables or electrical devices located near by.
Cat6 cable offers true Gigabit support with effective speeds up to 10000 Mbps in distances up to 100 meters. Though as with all Ethernet cables the length of cable, level of shielding and even the physical location of the cable can affect the network speed. If you use a long cable located next to existing cable runs and the maximum speed is likely to be reduced. Ca6a which was launched in 2008 is certified to higher standards and offers better shielding thus reducing crosstalk and allows for higher speeds at longer distances.
Category 6 Ethernet cable is backwards compatible with Cat5e. Due to the low cost difference between a cat6 and a cat5e cable; many people actually opt for a Cat6 cable as the cable itself is higher quality with better crosstalk prevention.
You can expect to pay around £28 for a 30 meter long Cat6 cable and £5 for a 2 meter lead, whilst a Cat5e cable of the same lengths should cost around £15 and £3.50 respectively, prices applicable to the United kingdom. There are many online retailers offering very competitive prices on Ethernet cables, indeed some of the longer lengths of cable can only be easily sourced online as many local computer shops don’t have much call for 50 meter lengths of Ethernet cable.
Cat7 cables are the fastest currently available. They offer a level of shielding even higher than cat6, the individual pairs are wrapped in foil, then the whole bunch of 4 pairs is wrapped in another layer of foil and finally there is a wire mesh around the all the cables. This is known as Pairs In Metal Foil or PIMF. it’s debatable if you will notice any speed difference at shorter lengths of around 2m, but if you are using a longer length you should definately achieve higher speeds if you use a Cat7 Ethernet cable.