One of the most used ways to connect to the Internet and to the home local network is through the Ethernet network cable, although logically connecting by cable is more inconvenient than connecting by WiFi, the advantages of the cable are clear: higher download and upload speed , without interference of any kind, without cuts in the wireless connection and the minimum possible latency. When we have high Internet speeds or we have a Multigigabit network, it is very important to know the category and type of Ethernet network cable that you have, because it depends on it that you can achieve high speeds in the local network.
Categories of network cables
Today there are several types of categories of twisted pair network cables, knowing what category our cable is means being able to know the available bandwidth and what speed we can achieve in the home network. Currently the cable categories are as follows:
- Cat 5 – These types of cables are no longer commonly used, however you may have a very old network cable that is in this category. This type of cable is suitable for very low speeds of about 100Mbps, although over short distances we could synchronize at speeds of 1Gbps.
- Cat 5e : it is the improved version of the previous one, it allows us to achieve speeds of up to 2.5Gbps in the local network, although it is recommended to use it in Gigabit Ethernet networks at most. This network cable is the typical one that manufacturers incorporate with the WiFi router or repeater when we buy it.
- Cat 6 : This is the most recommended category of cabling if you are going to buy an Ethernet network cable, because it will allow you to get up to 5Gbps speed in Multigigabit networks, in addition, it costs almost the same price as the Cat 5e category, so that we recommend you buy this.
- Cat 6A : It is the improved version of the previous one, it is much more expensive than Cat 6 cabling since it is prepared to achieve speeds of 10Gbps. This network cable contains multiple protections to prevent external interference and also crosstalk in the cable.
- Cat 7 – This version is priced similarly to the previous one, but has higher bandwidth. If you are going to wire your entire house from scratch, our recommendation is that you buy this category of cable to have a 10G network.
To look at the category of the network cable we must look at the cable itself, we will find a series of letters and numbers, and among them we can see something like “CAT.5E” or “CAT6”, indicating unequivocally that this is the category of the network cable that we have in our hands.
In the previous image, you can see a typical CAT 5E cable that router and repeater manufacturers incorporate, however, we can also see how in the following cable “Cat 7” appears, so it is clearly better than the previous cable.
Once we have seen the network cable category, now we need to know the type of cable we have.
Network cable types
The type of network cable is also very important, this indicates the type of coating of the twisted pair network cable itself. The more coating we have, the better it will behave against crosstalk and external interference. The cable types are as follows:
- UTP: It is the most basic cable without any type of external protection.
- FTP: is a cable that has its shielded pairs.
- SSTP or S/FTP: it is a network cable that has all four shielded pairs and has an additional coating that covers the entire network cable.
In the following image you can see a Cat 7 cable with the S/FTP type, as you can see, we have multiple metallic coatings to minimize external interference.
To see the type of cable, just look at the same area where we had the category, but now in the cable we can read something like “UTP”, “FTP” and even SSTP as we have seen in the example of the Cat 7 cable above.
Thanks to the category and type of cable, we will be able to know the maximum bandwidth it has and the maximum speed we can achieve. In addition, we will also know if it is necessary to buy a cable with a higher category and a better coating.