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Cat 5 vs. Cat 6: Is Your Business Network a Real High Wire Act?

When business owners come to us to talk about new or upgraded network configurations, they expect to hear a lot about hardware, routers, IP setups, and other complex, technical details. Those things certainly do factor into the mix, but you might be surprised to know just how much one little detail — your network’s wiring — can come into play when you’re trying to speed things up or fix sluggish connections.

In particular, we spend time with our clients discussing the difference between Category 5 (or Cat 5, for short) and Category 6 (Cat 6) wiring. Although these might sound like cute names for mundane parts, the reality is that they represent entirely different levels of technology.

Besides the composition of the wires themselves, the biggest difference is that Cat 6 wiring, which is faster and more advanced, has isolated wire components that prevent cross-talk (interference) from one wire to the next. That means quicker connections and lower data loss. Or, to think about things a different way, a wider, smoother highway for your information packets to travel on.

Just as a smoother, more efficient highway system would allow a trucking company to deliver goods from one point to another more quickly, and with fewer stoppages, upgrading your network to Cat 6 wiring removes an important performance bottleneck from the equation. That also gives you three key benefits:

  1. Faster network performance. Any data that flows through your network also has to flow through the wiring. That means it doesn’t matter how fast your servers and other equipment are if your wiring isn’t up to speed. To give you a sense of comparison, Cat 5 is compatible for speeds up to 10 MB, whereas Cat 6 can handle 1 GB+.
  2. More connection reliability. Lowered crosstalk means fewer bits of lost information and clearer, more reliable Internet and telephone connections. That makes Cat 6 a must if you rely on VOIP communications.
  3. Access to future upgrades. New hardware and software are being configured with Cat 6 enhancements and capabilities in mind. So, it’s a good idea to change your wiring today if you want to enjoy the best technology tomorrow.

In other words, by making one small change to your network configuration (or by upgrading to Cat 6 wiring as part of a bigger improvement), you can dramatically change the way your network performs. Isn’t it time you turned your office network into more of a high wire act?

Call or email the Bay Area Computers team today to learn more about Category 6 wiring and advanced network configurations.

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