Category 3 (Cat 3, 10BASE-T) – the first type of cable installed used for voice and low-speed data communications. The maximum speed was 10 Mbps per second. Four pairs of twisted wires and each end is crimped with a plastic RJ-45 connector. Only four of the 8 wires are used.
Category 5 (Cat 5, 10BASE-TX) – aka Fast Ethernet, again used for voice and data and rated at 100 Mbps, four pairs of twisted wires and each end is crimped with a plastic RJ-45 connector. Only four wires are used.
Category 5e (Cat 5e, 1000BASE-T/1000BASE-TX) – Gigabit Ethernet, surpassing all speeds at 1,000 Mbps, four pairs of twisted wires and each end is crimped with a plastic RJ-45 connector. Only four wires are used.
Category 6 (Cat 6) – with specifications designed to transmit data at speeds of 10 Gbps, also, four pairs of twisted wires and each end is crimped with only four wires used with T568A or T568B connectors.
Other network cable types:
Thin-net, (RG-58 or coax cable) looks very much like the cable used for your television. It’s maximum distance is 185 meters and it works very well in ceilings. Linear bus toplogy
Fiber optic is fragile but is able to withstand natural elements like storms and excessive heat. Fiber is rated to allow data to travel beyond 3 feet, 300 feet, and as far as 100 meters.
At first, I thought data transmission speeds were dependent on the network interface card (NIC) but now I recall certain network cabling configurations were designed not only by cable length, but also for speed but the cable type was a very important element of the design.
Network performance based on the cable design. UTP cable is sensitive to EMI and RFI. In one building, three stories high and with an elevator, you may run combinations of UTP, coax (“thin” Ethernet or RG-58), and fiber-optic especially near elevators and in cable ducts.
RG-58 is better shielded than twisted pair, it may be used in areas that run closest to electro- magnetic interference, such as through ceiling panels where light fixtures are nearby. Data traveling through RG-58 is guaranteed to travel as far as 185 meters (607 ft). It makes a great, low-priced option if connecting multiple switches. However, these days, Cat 5 and Cat 5e are the most commonly used cables with data traveling around 328 feet before it becomes distorted or “drops off”, also known…