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Internet network installation can be a daunting process, especially if you’re a business that relies heavily on data transfer and networking.

We know that Ethernet cables aren’t the most exciting topic to research, and it’s all too easy to get tangled up in all the technical jargon about performance and specifications, but it’s important to be well informed on the differences between Cat5 and Cat6 cabling. 

Not understanding the difference may have an impact on your business, costing you time and money. 

That’s why our experts have put together this concise guide to help you to make the best decision for your business. 

Cat5 & Cat6 Ethernet cables are used for computer networks, connecting your computer to your server or modem and allowing it to connect to the internet. Your entire IT infrastructure relies on Cat cables, so making the right choice is crucial!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CAT5 AND CAT6 ETHERNET CABLES?

Cat5 cabling used to be the highest standard for Ethernet cabling and has been since 1995. Most businesses have Cat5 cables installed, and chances are that the PC you’re currently using is connected using a Cat5 cable. There is nothing wrong with this, as Cat5 cables can cope relatively well with current levels of bandwidth and data transfer.

However, as bandwidth technology has advanced, Cat5 installation has become obsolete. 

While Cat5, or it’s sub-variety, Cat5E, are perfectly capable of performing well for data transfer requirements, businesses who are installing entirely new networks are advised to choose Cat6 cabling. 

The reason behind this is that Cat6 cabling has a much faster bandwidth capability, making it possible to transfer significantly higher levels of data. 

While Cat5 and Cat6 cables have a similar construction of tightly wound copper wiring, Cat6 cables also feature a nylon spline, to reduce ‘crosstalk’ or signal interference.

WHICH IS BEST, CAT5 OR CAT6?

Cat6 installations cost around 10-20% more than Cat5. While this may seem like a steep increase, you’re paying for higher quality wires. 

Not only are the performance specifications impressive, but as higher bandwidth use becomes more widespread, every business will require Cat6 in order to stay ahead, making Cat6 installation a way to future-proof your business. 

And yet, even though Cat5 is an outdated form of cabling, it can still handle adequate internet speeds for a low cost. 

If you are a smaller business, with a minimal need for transfer speeds, there is no necessity to opt for Cat6. It is also easy to upgrade your cabling from Cat5, to Cat5E (the ‘e’ stands for enhanced), so if you are looking for a little boost, the Cat5E is the perfect alternative. 

It is less expensive and adequately capable depending on your required internet speed. Cat5E also features backwards compatibility, making the overall transition to upgrading your cabling easier.

The defining differences between the two types of cable are their data transfer capabilities. 

Overall, the choice of Cat5 or Cat6 depends on the unique requirements of your business and your budget.

WHICH BUSINESSES SHOULD USE CAT6 CABLING?

Generally speaking, most businesses will need to upgrade to Cat6 cables (or faster) in the coming years. You’ll likely have to upgrade to Cat6 soon, so we highly recommend opting for them now. Despite their higher initial cost, it’ll be more expensive to have all of your Ethernet cables replaced in a few years’ time, so it makes sense to upgrade once to Cat6. 

If you’re a business that uses anything, from a VOIP telephone system to a POE (power over Ethernet) device, Cat6 cables are required to handle the data needed to operate them. 

Cat6 cabling is suitable for any business with a computer network that reaches a GB or one GBPS of data transfer.

DATA CABLING AT WHITESTAR SOLUTIONS

At Whitestar Solutions, we believe in providing honest advice and recommendations for all of our clients.

Rely on our data cabling installation experts to provide tailored data cabling solutions for your business, from Cat5 & Cat6 installations through to fibre optics and structured cabling systems; whatever you need, we’re here to advise on, and handle, it all.  

For more information on our services, or advice on your business’ data cabling needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our installation experts today.