ComRes Tips: Choosing Between Cat5e and Cat6
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 Cabling
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 cabling? Many of our clients ask which cabling options are best for them.
1. Cat 5e vs Cat 6 Phone/Computer cabling
There are several types of Cat 5e and Cat 6 phone and computer cabling. Choosing Cat 5e vs Cat 6 upfront is important since it can be expensive and disruptive to replace Cat 5e or upgrade to Cat 6 later.
Cat 5e – Cat 5e is commonly used for equipment that requires 10/100 Meg Ethernet connections. When choosing Cat 5e vs Cat 6, it is important to find out if you will ever need 1 Gig data speeds.
Cat 6 – Cat 6 supports higher data speeds including data devices that have 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports. You normally do not need Cat 6 for voice equipment, but may want it if you ever plan on using network devices work best on or require 1 Gig speeds (e.g. Gig NIC cards).
2. Plenum vs PVC
In addition to deciding whether you need Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling, you may be asked Plenum vs PVC (non-Plenum) cabling.
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 Plenum – Plenum, or low-smoke cabling is required by many cities for use in all or some buildings. It is important to check local codes to see what is required in your area. If your project involves a General Contractor (GC), they can normally tell you what type of cabling is required.
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 PVC – PVC cabling may be used in any office where plenum cabling is not required. PVC cabling is less expensive and easier to install than Plenum cabling, but may not meet building codes for your office, so check with your city or GC to make sure.
3. Cat 5e or Cat 6 Single vs Dual
Do you really need to spend the extra money for ‘dual’ cable runs vs a single cable run shared by computers/phones work just fine? Check the total cost, including data switches to make sure that sharing a single Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable run vs using dual drops actually saves you money, and does not expose you to serious quality issues.
4. Wired vs Wireless
Many organizations are asking whether physical Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable runs are necessary anymore with advances in wireless networks. While wireless network speeds and security have improved dramatically, they still cannot equal the throughput speed of physical Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable runs, so often, customers install both Cat 5e/Cat 6 cabling and wireless networks.