Smart Building

Maximize Networking Speeds: Picking the Right Category 6 System

Matt Baum

Many of today’s enterprise environments have deployed 1 Gb/s, 2.5 Gb/s or 5 Gb/s networking speeds for workstations and wireless access points to support incoming and outgoing data processing from multiple devices and users.

In addition to traditional systems and applications, these networks now support Power over Ethernet (PoE) device connections, such as cameras, sensors and card readers for access control systems. To maintain performance reliability in these situations, a high-performance cable and connectivity system is vital.


With so many options to choose from, however, how can you decide what type of cabling system you need to support networking speeds and prevent downtime and connectivity issues?


Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this system support basic wired workstations or wireless networking applications – or something more complex? Many wired and wireless networks have Ethernet demands that require at least a Category 6 cable and connectivity system (with speeds up to 2.5 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s). Higher-speed 10GBASE-T networks and wireless protocols, such as 802.11ac Wave 2 and Wi-Fi 6 access points, demand Category 6A systems.

  • What will happen if some of the devices connected to your network go down because of a cable or connectivity issue? If a workstation goes down, then productivity declines quickly. If a camera or card reader fails, then security is compromised. How vital are factors such as productivity and security to your environment? If they’re important, then you require a cable and connectivity system that ensures 24/7 reliability.

  • Is PoE involved in this application? (Will the system support endpoint devices that need power in addition to data? What wattage do they require?) For best performance, PoE relies on 4-pair, balanced, twisted-pair cabling that reduces resistance and power waste. If your devices rely on 100W PoE, then a Category 6A system may be a better choice to handle these power levels while maintaining cable performance and temperature.

  • Will your channel lengths stay within 100 m (per standards)? Category 6 cable can support full 100 m channel lengths; however, if you have application-specific needs that call for extended reach beyond 100 m, then a Category 6A system that performs beyond standards is a must.

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then you need a Category 6 system that can support 1000BASE-T and 2.5G/5GBASE-T applications while also being able to reliably support PoE and extended LAN device connections.


Now you know you need a Category 6 solution, but which Category 6 system will perform well in your environment? Here are some features to look for to ensure that you can maintain uptime and reliable connectivity.


Excellent Insertion Loss Performance

A Category 6 system that features low insertion loss and plenty of headroom translates to an infrastructure that supports your daily network demands – with extra “room” between the cable’s actual measured insertion loss and the maximum insertion loss allowed per standards so it will continue to perform throughout the life of the installation. The higher the headroom percentage, the better the cable performance.


Superior Crosstalk Performance

A Category 6 system that offers enhanced crosstalk performance means maximum uptime and ensures less data packet loss due to internal noise that may impede data transmission. You can identify systems with better crosstalk performance by looking at the system’s guaranteed performance for electrical parameters, such as NEXT and ACRF.


NEXT (near-end crosstalk) measures (in dB) the signal from one pair to another within a single link or channel. This measurement is taken at the end where the signal is sourced. The higher the NEXT, the less crosstalk received by the link or channel.


An acronym for attenuation crosstalk ratio far-end, ACRF is a calculation that subtracts insertion loss of the disturbing pair from the far-end crosstalk (FEXT) it induces in an adjacent pair. Look for a system and cable with a higher ACRF; the higher the calculation, the better the system performance.


Superior Signal-to-Noise Ratio

Your Category 6 system should offer an increased signal-to-noise ratio, which translates to increased information capacity. This ensures that the signal remains intact during transmission without being impacted by noise.


Introducing REVConnect 3600 and 2400 Systems

With increased performance guarantees across all electrical parameters, including insertion loss and crosstalk, Belden offers two end-to-end Category 6 systems: the REVConnect 3600 System and the REVConnect 2400 System.


Both offer excellent performance reliability, uptime, headroom and networking speeds of up to 2.5 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s with increased bundle sizes, higher PoE load and additional headroom compared to other Category 6 systems.


They’re also designed to support PoE device connections at distances of up to 100 m (if extended reach is required, then we recommend using a Category 6A system).


Featuring insertion loss performance with 7% and 10% headroom, REVConnect 2400 and 3600 Systems offer best-in-class Category 6 headroom across all parameters: insertion loss, NEXT, ACRF and PSACRF.


REVConnect System installation is reliable, easy and versatile, combining high-performance cable with REVConnect Connectivity, which utilizes a single termination process for all components for fast and simplified installation (and no rework).


 Common applications that call for Category 6 cabling and connectivity like REVConnect 3600 and 2400 Systems include:

  • 1000BASE-T and 2.5G/5GBASE-T networking applications
  • PoE and network-connected devices
  •  Channel lengths of up to 100 m