CAT6 cable for Access Control

Read to find out how CAT6 is used in physical access control systems

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CAT6 Internet Cables in Access Control

Internet cables are a critical factor for stable, secure and reliable web connectivity. When you have given the power of access control to your premises to a network connection, what you want back from your system is optimal performance and reliability with minimal signal interference.

Not all cable categories are made the same. Despite the fact that the modular plugs look almost identical on the outside to an average eye, the insides of the cable differ.

CAT5 vs CAT6 cable comparison is necessary to make the right choice. Internet cables affect your connections’ speed and performance, thus reflecting on the access control system’s performance. Advanced CAT5 Ethernet cable models may suffice for your daily laptop use, but if you need to establish a top-performing access control, CAT5e (enhanced) twisted wires are not nearly good enough.

CAT6A Future-proofs Your Network Performance

But, what exactly is the difference between CAT5 and CAT6? What makes CAT6 cables so special?

Think of the CAT6 cable as of a sophisticated version of the CAT5 Ethernet model. CAT stands for category and the numbers are standards. Both cables are twisted wire cables placed in sheaths and created to transfer data in networks. What makes CAT6 or CAT6A versions take precedence over CAT5 models is better reliability, speed and performance. This is especially vital if you need to set a built-in house wiring that cannot be easily removed.

connect CAT6
CAT6 cables excel in complex network architecture - Photo by frankieleon

Historically speaking, CAT3 Ethernet cables were the first. Then came CAT5 and CAT5e, and now we are in the age of CAT6 cables. Each ‘cable era’ defines minimum standards for the product specs. The good thing about newer models is that they work both backward and forward. You can count on compatibility with older units, but also expect the components to work in the long run.

So, why would we need CAT6 cabling for our access control system when all those tiny copper wires seem almost identical? Almost, but not quite so. The differences are significant.

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CAT5 vs CAT6 Tech Specs Comparison

Did you know that wire twisting was Alexander Graham Bell’s invention? He found out that internal (XT) and external telephone wires (AXT) got into each other’s way less when twisted. Later, the same method was used to improve Ethernet efficiency.

Nowadays, setting up a Gigabit (1Gbps) network is impossible without CAT6 cables. That’s fast Internet. Setting up a 10-Gigabit (10 Gbps) Ethernet network is impossible without CAT6A cables. That’s super fast Internet. Obviously, speed is an all-important factor is the CAT5 vs CAT6 power play.

What else is there? Cable length and bandwidth play a role, too. Keep in mind that when we talk about CAT5 cabling, we think of CAT5e, because CAT5 is not in use anymore. CAT5 was rated for only 100mbps speed for 100 m length and 100 MHz bandwidth. You can imagine that these ratings will not survive in today’s Internet standards. The specs include:

  • CAT5 vs CAT6 speed: 1 Gbps vs 10 Gbps
  • CAT5 vs CAT6 length: 100 m vs 55 m
  • CAT5 vs CAT6 bandwidth: 100 MHz vs 250 MHz

While CAT5 have four twisted wire pairs but use only two, CAT5e and CAT6 cables use all four. CAT6 also include an extra plastic string core placed in the middle of the twisted internal wiring, which adds an extra layer of protection to diminish crosstalk. CAT6 is a bigger cable with a chunkier sheath. It reduces crosstalk because it has tighter wound wire pairs.

CAT6 Cable
CAT6 Internet Cable with 4 active twisted wires and a plastic core / Photo by fireflythegreat

More bandwidth means a greater ability of the cable to use an extensive range of frequencies.

In a nutshell, CAT6 is of better quality, because it provides more ‘physical space’ to fit data. Even though the “more space” feature is a metaphor, CAT6 cables do have better shielding to reduce crosstalk between the wires, improve speed and, consequently, pump up data transfer.

Now, CAT6 Internet cables are typically double the price of CAT5e cables. This is a fact that you may want to keep in mind when you choose between robust and lithe network connectivity. However, CAT5 is not a viable alternative for safeguarding access control.

To sum it up:

Category 6 Internet cables use the classic RJ-45 standard connector as previous Ethernet versions, but support at least 1 gigabit per second data rates.

Despite CAT6 historical compatibility, if you have poor overall specs for the rest of the equipment, the system will require an upgrade to meet CAT6 performance specifications in the best possible way. Proper cable shielding does the job to enhance CAT6 cable's performance in high electromagnetic interference (EMI) environments. As with many other products, not all manufacturers use the same materials, despite meeting the same standards. This is another point you need to check out when you talk to your access control system consultant.

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