For most people, the term Cat 5 means little. It could refer to a tractor, a YouTube video, or a movie from the sixties. Even when they understand that it's Ethernet cable, some still don’t really know what it means. So for those of you suffering from Cat 5 curiosity, here’s a little help to bring you up to speed.
What does Cat 5 Stand for?
Cat 5 stands for Category 5, but most of us simply call it “Ethernet cable”. Together, the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) developed Cat 5 in the early 1990’s to carry high-speed network communications. While rated for speeds of 10Mbps and 100Mbps, short runs of Cat5 get gigabit speeds at times.
Who uses it?
Most of us use Cat 5 every day. Depending on their connection type, our computers, smart TVs, game machines, and home security systems may all communicate over Cat 5 wiring. Even if you’re totally wireless at home, your internet provider will probably have miles of Cat 5 throughout their building. Commercial installations require it because large numbers of cables packed together along with electrical wiring cause interference called “crosstalk”. Even the smallest amount of crosstalk will slow speeds considerably. Cat 5 reduces crosstalk through the use of heavier jackets, better insulation, and the technique of twisting internal wires into pairs. Many home builders nowadays run a Cat 5 cable from one central point, into every room. They install a standard Ethernet input known as an RJ45 jack. The homeowner later decides whether to use it for data or telephone communications. While not recommended, some even use both on the same cable as data only employs 4 of the 8 internal wires - 2 send and 2 receive. Simple adaptors allow the end user to easily connect their computer, telephone, or both. In truth, you could use almost any type of cable to move your data along (provided it has at least 4 wires), but if you want speed, then you’ll want Cat 5.