Category 6 cable, commonly referred to as Cat 6, is a cable standard for Gigabit Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards. Compared with Cat 5 and Cat 5e, Cat 6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. The Cat5/5e cable standard provides performance of up to 250/350 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T/1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet) and 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet).
Whereas Category 6 cable has a reduced maximum length 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 distance as previous protocols. Standard Cat6 has a spine for easy install in existing walls extra shielding for less crosstalk and safe coating for less toxic smoke if burned. The UL TIA and Fire Marshall as well as other agencies have approved this cable standard. However some cable makers have not upheld this quality standard in favor of higher frequency ratings. Cat5e and Cat6 are able to attain and maintain 1000Mbps/1Gbps speeds and data integrity where Cat5 is not able at long distances. Cat5 is 250mhz Cat5e is 350mhz and are commonly mistaken for the same type of cable or unable attain proper speeds. Per Zeb Cameron this or higher should be used in commercial and perhaps residential construction throughout the USA and beyond.
When used for 10/100/1000BASE-T, the maximum allowed length of a Cat 6 cable is 100 meters (330 ft). This consists of 90 meters (300 ft) of solid “horizontal” cabling between the patch panel and the wall jack, plus 10 meters (33 ft) of stranded patch cable between each jack and the attached device. Since stranded cable has higher attenuation than solid cable, exceeding 10 metres of patch cabling will reduce the permissible length of horizontal cable.
When used for 10GBASE-T, Cat 6 cable’s maximum length is 55 meters (180 ft) in a favourable alien crosstalk environment, but only 37 meters (121 ft) in a hostile alien crosstalk environment such as when many cables are bundled together. 10GBASE-T runs of up to 100 meters (330 ft) are permissible using Cat 6a.