What is Cat.6? What is Cat.7? - The categories of network cables
Ethernet network cables are divided into categories (Cat.) from Cat.3 to Cat.8, which specify the transmission rates of the cables. Cat.6 cables were originally developed to support Gigabit Ethernet. These cables contain a physical separator between the four pairs to reduce electromagnetic interference. Cat.6 network cables support speeds of up to 1 Gbps for lengths of up to 100 metres. 10 Gbps are technically possible for cable lengths of up to 55 metres. In 2009, the improved standard Cat.6a was introduced. The "a" in Cat.6a stands for "Augmented". Compared to standard Cat.6 cables, the 6a cables support higher transmission speeds over longer cable lengths. Category 6a cables are always shielded.
Cat.7 is a newer copper cable specification supporting speeds of up to 10 Gbps with 600 megahertz clocking at a transmission distance of up to 100 metres. To achieve this, the cable has four individually shielded cable pairs and an additional shielding to protect the signals from electronic magnetic interference.
Due to the high data rates, when installing a Cat.7 network infrastructure all components used must have the Cat.7 certification. These include patch panels, patch cables, sockets and RJ-45 connectors. Failure to use components other than certified Cat.7 will degrade overall cabling performance. Today, Cat.7 network cables are commonly used in data centres for backbone connections between servers, network switches, and storage devices.
Depending on the cable design, Ethernet cables are referred to as cross-wired or crossover cables, patch cables, and straight-through cables. Patch cables and straight-through cables are two designations for standard cables in which the core pairs are parallel side by side. Cross-wired or crossover cables are cable types in which the core pairs are crossed. These cables are used when two computers are to be connected directly to each other. A special case is the so-called Y-cables with which a network cable can be split up for shared use by two computers or devices.