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respooling category cables

If you’re thinking about cutting or re-spooling category cable, there are a few things you should know.

Most manufacturers will not offer cutting or re-spooling services for category cables. When it comes to Ethernet cables such as Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6, cutting or re-spooling is not recommended, as it can hurt the cable’s electrical characteristics and nullify the category rating.

Cat5 vs. Cat5e vs. Cat6 Cable.

The differences between Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 cable are more technical than physical. Category cables are grouped into numbered categories based on their Ethernet network cable standard. These specifications are determined by the Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA). Not all category cable performs the same, and it’s important to know the differences before making a selection. Cat5 cable supports 10BASE-T (10 Mbps) and 100BASE-T (100 Mbps) network standards. You might find these cables with older modems, routers, and Ethernet adapters.

While Cat5 cable usually contains four pairs of copper wire, fast Ethernet speeds are achieved by utilizing only two of these pairs. Cat5 cable has been superseded by Cat5e cable. With Cat 5e, faster speeds are accomplished by using all four wire pairs instead of the usual two for Cat 5. These cables support networking at Gigabit Ethernet cable speeds of up to 1000 Mbps.

Although interference between pairs is sometimes an issue with Cat5 cabling, Cat5e reduces the effects of crosstalk with tighter twists between wire pairs. Cat6 cable is a newer generation of category cable. Cat 6 has been approved for networking at cable speeds of up to 250MHz, a step up from Cat5’s and Cat5e’s 100MHz spec. With faster and more reliable transfer speeds, Cat6 is a new and improved Ethernet cable. Cat 6 cable is backward compatible with all lower categories, meaning it can be placed in any Cat5 or Cat5e channel.

Why You Shouldn’t Cut or Re-Spool Category Cable

Since category cables are known for their superior data transmission, which could be affected during the handling process, many wire and cable manufacturers will not offer cutting or re-spooling services for these products. In Ethernet cables, the exact lay of the 4 copper wire pairs has a significant effect on electrical characteristics. Re-spooling, cutting, or any extra handling of these cables can compromise electrical performance, and because the manufacturer can no longer guarantee the electricals, the cable loses its category rating. When you search for category cable in the future, keep in mind that you will not always have the option of cutting or re-spooling these cables.

To learn more about Cat 5 cable, Cat 5e cable, and Cat 6 cable, view Allied Wire and Cable’s full category cable product specs online.