Category 6 cable, commonly referred to as Cat 6, is a cable standard for Gigabit Ethernet and other network protocols that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards. 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 and 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet). It is expected to suit the 10GBASE-T (10Gigabit Ethernet) standard, although with limitations on length if unshielded Cat 6 cable is used.
The cable contains four twisted copper wire pairs, just like earlier copper cable standards. Although Cat-6 is sometimes made with 23 gauge wire, this is not a requirement; the ANSI/TIA-568-B.2-1 specification states the cable may be made with 22 to 24 AWG gauge wire, so long as the cable meets the specified testing standards. When used as a patch cable, Cat-6 is normally terminated in 8P8C modular connectors, often incorrectly referred to as "RJ-45" electrical connectors. Cat-6 connectors are made to higher standards that help reduce noise caused by crosstalk and system noise. Attenuation, NEXT (Near End Crosstalk), and PSNEXT (Power Sum NEXT) are all significantly lower when compared to Cat-5/5e.
Some Cat-6 cables are too large and may be difficult to attach to 8P8C connectors without a special modular piece and are technically not standard compliant. If components of the various cable standards are intermixed, the performance of the signal path will be limited to that of the lowest category. As with all cables defined by ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B, the maximum allowed length of a Cat-6 horizontal cable is 100 meters (330 ft) in length, depending upon the ratio of cord length:horizontal cable length.
The cable is terminated in either the T568A scheme or the T568B scheme. It doesn't make any difference which is used, as they are both straight through (pin 1 to 1, pin 2 to 2, etc). Mixing T568A-terminated patch cords with T568B-terminated horizontal cables (or the reverse) does not produce pinout problems in a facility. Although it may very slightly degrade signal quality, this effect is marginal and certainly no greater than that produced by mixing cable brands in-channel. The T568B Scheme is by far the most widely used method of terminating patch cables.
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