Category 6 cable

Category 6 cable (Cat 6), is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards.

Cat 6 has to meet more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise than Cat 5 and Cat 5e. The cable standard specifies performance of up to 250 MHz, compared to 100 MHz for Cat 5 and Cat 5e.[1]

Whereas Category 6 cable has a reduced maximum length of 55 meters when used for 10GBASE-T, Category 6A cable (or Augmented Category 6) is characterized to 500 MHz and has improved alien crosstalk characteristics, allowing 10GBASE-T to be run for the same 100 meter maximum distance as previous Ethernet variants.


TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 T568A Wiring
131 white/green
232 green
321 white/orange
412 blue
511 white/blue
622 orange
741 white/brown
842 brown
TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 T568B Wiring[2]
121 white/orange
222 orange
331 white/green
412 blue
511 white/blue
632 green
741 white/brown
842 brown

Cat 6 cable can be identified by the printing on the side of the cable sheath.[3] Cable types, connector types and cabling topologies are defined by TIA/EIA-568.

Cat 6 patch cables are normally terminated in 8P8C modular connectors, using either T568A or T568B pin assignments; performance is comparable provided both ends of a cable are terminated identically.

If Cat 6-rated patch cables, jacks and connectors are not used with Cat 6 wiring, overall performance is degraded and may not meet Cat 6 performance specifications.[4]

Category 6A

The standard for Category 6A is ANSI/TIA-568-C.1, defined by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) for enhanced performance standards for twisted pair cable systems. It was defined in 2009. Cat 6A performance is defined for frequencies up to 500 MHz—twice that of Cat 6. Cat 6A also has an improved alien crosstalk specification as compared to Cat 6, which picks up high levels of alien noise at high frequencies.

The global cabling standard ISO/IEC 11801 has been extended by the addition of amendment 2. This amendment defines new specifications for Cat 6A components and Class EA permanent links. These new global Cat 6A/Class EA specifications require a new generation of connecting hardware offering far superior performance compared to the existing products that are based on the American TIA standard.[5] The most important point is a performance difference between ISO/IEC and EIA/TIA component specifications for the NEXT transmission parameter. At a frequency of 500 MHz, an ISO/IEC Cat 6A connector performs 3 dB better than a Cat 6A connector that conforms with the EIA/TIA specification. 3 dB equals 50% reduction of near-end crosstalk noise signal power; see half-power point.[5]

Confusion therefore arises because of the naming conventions and performance benchmarks laid down by the International ISO/IEC and American TIA/EIA standards, which in turn are different from the regional European standard, EN 50173-1. In broad terms, the ISO standard for Cat 6A is the most stringent, followed by the European standard, and then the American (1 on 1 matching capability).[6][7]

Category 6e and beyond

Soon after the ratification of Cat 6, a number of manufacturers began offering cable labeled as "Category 6e". Their intent was to suggest their offering was an upgrade to the Category 6 standard—presumably naming it after Category 5e, which was a standardized enhancement to Category 5 cable. However, Cat 6e is not a recognized Telecommunications Industry Association standard. Category 7 is an ISO standard, but not a TIA standard; it is a shielded cable with newer connectors that are not backward-compatible with category 3 through 6A. Category 8 is the next network cabling offering to be backward compatible.[8]

Maximum length

When used for 10/100/1000BASE-T, the maximum allowed length of a Cat 6 cable is 100 meters (328 ft). This consists of 90 meters (295 ft) of solid "horizontal" cabling between the patch panel and the wall jack, plus 5 meters (16 ft) of stranded patch cable between each jack and the attached device.[9] For 10GBASE-T, an unshielded Cat 6 cable should not exceed 55 meters and a Cat 6A cable should not exceed 100 meters.[10]

Installation requirements

Category 6 and 6A cable must be properly installed and terminated to meet specifications. The cable must not be kinked or bent too tightly; the bend radius should be larger than four times the outer diameter of the cable.[11] The wire pairs must not be untwisted and the outer jacket must not be stripped back more than 13 mm (0.51 in).

Cable shielding may be required in order to avoid data corruption in high electromagnetic interference (EMI) environments. Shielding is typically maintained from one cable end to the other using a drain wire that runs through the cable alongside the twisted pairs. The shield's electrical connection to the chassis on each end is made through the jacks. The requirement for ground connections at both cable ends creates the possibility of creating a ground loop. This undesirable situation may compel currents to flow in the network cable shield and these currents may in turn induce detrimental noise in the signal being carried by the cable.


  1. Kish, Paul (July 2002). "Category 6 Cabling Questions and Answers" (PDF). NORDX/CDT, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  2. "ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2001 Approved: April 12, 2001 ; Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard Part 1: General Requirements" (PDF). 090917
  3. "Ethernet Cable Identification and Use". Archived from the original on July 10, 2011.
  4. "ANSI/TIA/EIA 568-B.2-1". Archived from the original on 2013-09-28.
  5. "A new Category 6A specification has arrived". Next generation Cat. 6A. Tyco Electronics. Archived from the original on 2014-02-25.
  6. "Cat. 6A ≠ Cat. 6 A ≠ Class EA". Next generation Cat. 6A. Tyco Electronics. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03.
  7. Barnett, David; Goth, David; McBee, Jim. Cabling: The Complete Guide to Network Wiring, 3rd Edition. Sybex. ISBN 978-0782143317.
  8. McLaughlin, Patric (2012-12-01). "TIA working on Category 8 standard". Cabling Installation and Maintenance. 20 (12). Retrieved 2016-01-03.
  9. Commercial Building Telecommunications Standard (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-20
  10. "Deploying 10GBASE-T with Cisco Switches: Choose the Right Cabling". January 22, 2014. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016.
  11. "Category 5/5E & Cat 6 Cabling Tutorial and FAQ's". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.