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 cable standard provides performance of up to 250 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.
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.
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