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An Overview of Cat6 Cable and Its Applications

All-round interpretation of Cat6 Ethernet cable and its applications

May 24, 2019

When Cat6 was first introduced, approximately 50% more expensive than Cat5e, making it cost-prohibitive for many installers. However, the costs of Cat6 cabling have reduced substantially over the years to the point where the increased cost is relatively acceptable. Most importantly, providing greater bandwidth over Cat5e and allows for higher data transfer rates, Cat6 cabling has now become a basic requirement for new installations in order to support Gigabit network applications and support bandwidths of up to 250MHz. This post will demystify Cat6 cable and its network applications.

Cat6 Cabling Solution

Cat6 Ethernet Cable Quick Q&A

What Is Cat6 Cable?

Short for Category 6, Cat6 is an Ethernet cable standard defined by the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). What is Cat6 cable used for? As the sixth generation of twisted pair Ethernet cabling, Cat6 cable consists of four twisted pairs and is either terminated by an RJ45 or terminated on a patch or a keystone jack. Theoretically, the maximum speed of the Cat6 network cable is 10Gbps.

How Long Can Cat6 Cable Run?

A single run of Ethernet cable is designed to work at a maximum distance of 100 meters (328 ft). A length longer than that will result in issues such as dropped packets, reduced performance, and loss of signal when deploying Cat6 cable. The max length of a Cat6 cable usually 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. For 10GBASE-T, an unshielded Cat6 cable should not exceed 55 meters.

Is Cat6 Cable Compatible With Cat5e Cable?

Cat5e vs Cat6 cables, both utilize the same end piece, i.e. they can plug into the same ports. The differences lie in their capabilities, as well as the methods and materials used to manufacture them. The "end" that all the cables have in common is RJ45, and it is capable of plugging into any Ethernet jack on a computer, router, PoE switch, or other devices.

What Are the Typical Applications of Cat6 Network Cables?

Installers often use Cat6 cables at the network's backbone in conjunction with fiber optics. Though slightly more costly than Cat5e, Cat6 cable is more reliable at longer distances than Cat 5e and a good fit for the wave of 60W and 90W Power over Ethernet (PoE) technologies currently on the market. With the potential for higher speeds and less crosstalk, Cat6 cable currently dominates home and enterprise networks as the cable of choice.

Cat6 Cables for Various Scenarios in Home or Enterprise Network

Cat6 cables can be classified into different types according to different specifications: unshielded Cat6 and shielded Cat6 in terms of shielding types, and solid Cat6 and stranded Cat6 in terms of the copper conductor in pairs. With regards to cable jacket rating, there are CM, CMR, and CMP Cat6 cables. Choices of Cat6 cable vary from different application scenarios.

Unshielded vs. Shielded Cat6 Cable, How to Differentiate?

The unshielded Cat6 cable, or UTP Cat6, is a kind of cable with wires that are twisted together to reduce noise and crosstalk. Whereas the shielded Cat6 is a twisted pair cable confined in a foil or mesh shield that guards the cable against electromagnetic interference (EMI), which is ideal for high-speed networks such as data centers where 10GBase-T networks are used—10GbE more sensitive to EMI. In a word, unshielded Cat6 can be used between your computer and the wall, but shielded Cat6 cables are more suitable in areas with high interference and running cables outdoors or inside walls. Further Reading: Shielded Cable vs. Unshielded Cat6a Cable

Unshielded vs. Shielded Cat6 Cable

Solid vs Stranded Cat6 Cable, Which to Choose?

Solid cable uses a single piece of copper for the electrical conductor while stranded uses a series of copper cables twisted together. Therefore, stranded cable is more flexible and can be used at your desk or anywhere you may move the cable around often. Solid cable is not as flexible but it is also more durable which makes it ideal for permanent installations as well as outdoors and in walls.

Due to high attenuation, stranded cable runs should be kept short to lower the chance of introducing even more attenuation into the system. It's better to keep the lengths of stranded patch cables under 6 meters. It is common to use stranded patch cables for connecting workstation network interface cards (NICs) and outlets or between concentrators and patch panels, hubs, and other rack-mounted equipment. Solid vs Stranded Conductor Cable will further explain their differences.

Solid vs Stranded Cat6 Cable

CM vs CMR vs CMP Cat6 Cables, Where to Use?

Read CM vs CMR vs CMP first, if you have no clue about what they are.


  • Cat6 CM cables — generally the minimum jacket ratings of Ethernet cables and are appropriate for installation inside a residence or a single-story commercial building.

  • Cat6 CMR cable — "Riser-rated Cable". It's designed to prevent fires from spreading between floors through risers or vertical shafts.

  • Cat6 CMP cable — "Plenum-rated Cable". The jacket is made from a material that retards the spread of flames and does not give off much smoke or toxic gas when burned. Therefore, it's fit for plenum spaces where the building's air ducts are connected for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, such as raised floors and drop ceilings. Most homes do not have significant plenum spaces, so plenum cabling is rarely a concern for residential installations.

CM vs CMR vs CMP Application Scenarios

DIY Your Cat6 Patch Cable: Ethernet Cable Wiring Guide

Cat6 network cables sold online may not fit your needs, or they may need to be customized according to some specific application. How to make a Cat6 patch cord? And how to terminate Cat6 cable? The instruction guide below is provided for creating your own Cat6 patch cables. THREE BASIC STEP: Strip - Arrange - Crimp!


  • Cut the length required: Pull the length required for your cable and cut the cable to the length needed. Tip: Add a little extra wire just in case.

  • Remove the outer jacket of the cable: Strip the cable about 1 inch from the end with the stripper tool and remove the cable stripper.

  • Untwist the wire pairs: Make them straight as much as possible.

  • Organize the wires: Depend on the wiring configurations T568A / T568B you are following.

  • Press the wires flat & parallel and cut the top of the wires: 1/2" (12.5 mm) long from the base of the jacket. Note: Leaving more than 1/2" untwisted can jeopardize connectivity and quality.

  • Insert the wires into the rj45 plug: With the flat surface of the plug on top.

  • Place the wired plug into the crimping tool: Give the handle a firm squeeze.

  • Repeat: Follow the above steps with the other end of the cable.

  • Test: Ensure that the network cable will function in the field.

Tool for Crimping Twisted Pair Cable and Connectors

DO NOT want to read the abovementioned words? The guide video below will demonstrate three common installations on how to terminate Cat6 cable including how to terminate into an RJ45 modular plug, into a toolless keystone jack, and into a punch down patch panel, taking FS Cat6 bulk cable as the example. Hope you find the instructions informative:

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