Cat6 cable remains widely popular ethernet cables and comes in 3 types or variants: Cat6 Plenum Cable, Cat6 Riser Cable, and Cat6 PVC Cable. The 3 versions differ slightly in specifications but vastly in their usage. For instance, you can use Cat6 Plenum cable in both plenum and riser spaces. However, the same can’t be done with the Cat6 Riser Cable. Why? We will answer this later.
Ever since its arrival, Cat6 cable has dominated the networking market and managed to remain popular up until now. Cat6 cable has been standardized by EIA (Electronic Industries Association) and TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association). As the name suggests, it is the 6th version of ethernet cables.
Cat6 Cable: How it works
Cat6 supports a data transfer rate of 1 Gbps (Gigabits per second) up to a distance of 330 feet. When the distance shrinks to 165 feet, it can effectively support a data transfer rate of 10 Gbps.
Its 3 different versions support bandwidth frequency ranging from 550MHz to 750MHz. The Cat6 family comes with 4 pairs of twisted wires and 8 copper connectors; you can utilize all 4 pairs to obtain superior-level signal quality. Just like its predecessors, the Cat6 family uses the RJ-45 standard connector.
The Cat6 cables are either UTP or STP.
UTP stands for Unshielded Twisted Cable. In this cable, 4 color-coded wires are twisted around each other to protect against EMI (electromagnetic interferences). STP stands for shielded twisted pair. This type of cable has an additional layer of protection against EMI. This additional protection comes in the form of a foil shield. UTP is mainly used in homes or businesses whereas FTP is usually used for industrial purposes.
Now let’s explore the specifications of each of its 3 types.
Cat6 Plenum Cable
Cat6 plenum cable is specially designed for usage in plenum spaces. The plenum is the space in the buildings that are used to facilitate heating and air conditioning systems. This space houses communication cables including your ethernet cables. Cat6 Plenum Cable comes in enhanced protection with “Communication Multipurpose Cable, Plenum” (CMP) jackets. These cable jackets have a fire-retardant coating that prevents fire progression and is ideal for usage in commercial and residential properties.
Also, the Cat6 Plenum Cable meets one of the stringent Underwriter Laboratories (UL) security guidelines of UL910. Owing to these specifications, the Cat6 plenum is often used as an alternative for the Cat6 riser; it can’t be turned around. It supports a maximum bandwidth of 550MHz and data transfer rates of 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps of up to a distance of 100 meters and 50 meters respectively. Thanks to its superior connectivity speed, you can use this bulk Cat6 cable for local area network applications.
Plenum cables comprise superior-quality PVC jacket material which has superb compound safe capacities and electrical properties. Plenum cables of the Cat6 family can work smoothly in extreme temperature conditions ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to 125 degrees Celsius. Also, Cat6 plenum is UV resistant.
Cat6 Riser Cable
Just like plenum cables, Cat6 Riser Cable meets diverse security guidelines. This type of cable is also UL affirmed link; it means that Cat6 Riser Cable comprises 100% strong copper.
The UL security certification for the Cat6 riser is UL1666 which is somewhat linear than that of the Cat6 plenum. The CMR jacket material of the Cat6 riser is also of good quality but not as that fine as that of plenum cables. Owing to this very reason, you can’t use riser cables as an alternative for plenum cables.
Cat6 riser supports a maximum bandwidth of 550MHz and data transfer rates of 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps of up to a distance of 100 meters and 50 meters respectively. This cable is 23 AWG wire.
Cat6 PVC cable
The 3rd variant in the Cat6 family is the Cat6 PVC cable. This variant is perfect for outdoor installations. Cat6 PVC cable comprises PVC (polyvinyl chloride) jacket material. Just like the other two variants, 4 pairs of twisted wires and 8 copper connectors. This variant of bulk Cat6 cable also supports a bandwidth of 550MHz and data transfer rates of 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps of up to a distance of 100 meters and 50 meters respectively. PVC cables are also 23 AWG wires.
This cable also provides excellent protection against EMI, near-end crosstalk, and alien crosstalk. However, just like riser cables, you cannot use Cat6 PVC Cable as a replacement for plenum cable; the reason is that its jacket material is prone to fire.