This article will deal with the similarities and differences between category 5 (CAT5) cable, Category 5e (CAT5e) cable, Category 5e (Category 5 enhanced) Ethernet cables are newer than category 5 cables and support faster, more reliable data transmission through networks. CAT5 cable is able to transmit data at 10 to 100Mbps speeds, while the newer CAT5e cable should be able to work at up to 1000Mbps. The CAT5e cable is also better than the CAT5 at ignoring “crosstalk,” or interference from the wires within the cable itself. Though CAT6 and CAT7 cables exist and can work with even faster speeds, CAT5e cables will work for most small networks.
How to Identify
Most Ethernet cables have the cabling category printed on the cable, with the print typically displaying how much bandwidth the cable can transmit. Telling cable categories apart by coloring or thickness can be difficult and unreliable. To be certain of which cable category you are buying, check the printed information.
CAT5 and CAT5e cables should not exceed 328ft (100m) in length, and even at this length, the cables may transmit data more slowly or result in internet “drop out.” To get around this, you can use a switch or hub as a repeater to amplify signals, which will help you transmit up to 590ft (180m). Beyond this, fiber-optic cabling may be required, as fiber-optic cables experience no interference across long distances; however, fiber-optic cabling is expensive. It is possible to buy CAT5 and CAT5e cables that are much longer than the recommended length. You may experience poor or unreliable data transmission when using them.