Category 5 transmits at 100MHz frequencies, providing a rated line speed of up to 100Mbit/s and a max cable segment length of 100 meters. Most Category 5 cables, designed for early networks, only used two twisted pairs. Older Category 5 cables continue to make up the bulk of the world’s network infrastructure.
An improved specification to Category 5 was later introduced. By reducing noise and signal interference, Category 5e was capable of increasing rated transfer speeds to 350 Mbit/s over 100 meters. The new standard also required all cables to include four twisted pairs (all eight contacts). An optimized encoding scheme allows up to 50-meter lengths of Category 5e cable to perform at, or near, Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) speeds.
The mainstream adoption of Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) required new industry-standard cables capable of transmitting at a higher frequency of 250 MHz. Category 6 cable uses thicker-gauge wire, increased shielding, and more pair twists per inch to reduce signal noise and interference. The tighter specifications guarantee that 100-meter runs of Category 6 are capable of 1000 Mbit/s transfer speeds. 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds are achievable when reducing cable lengths to less than 50 meters.
Category 6 Enhanced (6e) is an augmented specification designed to double transmission frequency to 500 MHz. By wrapping Category 6e in grounded foil shielding, full 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds can be reached without sacrificing the max cable length of 100 meters.
Be sure to use equally rated plugs and jacks or performance will be downgrade to the Category you utilize.