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Bulk cat5 cables are Ethernet cables that connect the devices on a local area network (LAN) such as routers, switches, and PCs. Cat5 is the shortened term for the Category 5 network cables that you find running at the back of your PC if you are hooked up to the LAN.
Network cables look alike on the outside and share the functionality of fitting into an Ethernet port. However, the wires inside each cable type have some differences, each difference relating to network standards that can be complicated. For home networks and small business operations that involve a few PCs, the Ethernet cable used to wire your LAN has a direct impact on the speed of your home or office network. You can find out the type of cable used to wire the LAN by checking on the text printed on the cable.
If you cut open a piece of cat5 cable, you will see four twisted pairs of copper wire that carry the signals within your LAN. The cable terminates at each end with RJ45 connectors.
The RJ45 connector is the most common twisted pair connector that has an 8-pin/8-position plug that employs either the T568A or T568B wiring scheme to connect computers within the LAN. The connectors within your network can have a mix of T568A or T568B wiring schemes that will work well as long as the same wiring scheme is used on both ends of each cat5 cable. In Ethernet-based LANs, the registered jack (RJ) is the standardized physical interface that connects the PC with telecommunications equipment.
The LAN is wired with bulk cat5 cable, with one RJ45 connected to a computer and another jack connected to a router or a network switch. The router and the network switch are look-alike devices with similar yet distinct functions within the LAN. In home and small office networks, the router provides a single Internet connection between several PCs and at the same time receives and analyzes information passed over the network, dispatching the signals through the best path for information to be transmitted faster.
The network switch functions as a connector between network devices such as computers, servers, and printers while the router is the dispatcher of information within the network, and connects one network to another if you have two or more local area networks within your system. The speed and efficiency of data transfer within one network and between LANs depend largely on the Ethernet cable that is used to wire the system, for example cat5 bulk cables.
Cat5 cables are older types of network cabling that support frequencies up to 100 MHz and speeds from 10 to 1000 Mbps. It complies with the wiring standards developed by the Electronics Industries Association, and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), and Gigabit Ethernet.
The four pairs of twisted wires in a cat5 cable are engineered with a differing but precise number of twists per meter to minimize crosstalk between the pairs. Crosstalk is the disturbance in signals that happen when you hear part of a conversation from another circuit. It is caused by electromagnetic interference (EMI) that occurs in microcircuits within audio equipment and computers.
Cat5 cables are available in stranded and solid conductor forms, with the stranded form being more flexible and thus, can withstand more bending without breaking. The stranded cables are used mostly in movable cables that plug the computer into the wall socket, while the solid core cables are employed in permanent wiring assemblies. To prevent damage to cat5 cables from twists and bends, it should be bent no smaller than four times the outside diameter.
Category 5e or cat5e and cat6 cables have superseded the cat5 Ethernet cable.
Upgrading Your LAN with Cat5e or Cat6 Bulk Cables
Cat5e is cat5 enhanced cabling, meaning it is an improved Ethernet cable to support the faster 1000 Mbps gigabit speeds that cat5 cables are hard-pressed to support. The cat5e cable is also designed to cut down further on the crosstalk or the interference in signals caused by the wires inside the cables. This means that upgrading your LAN from cat5 to cat5e is likely to provide a faster and more reliable speed for the performance of your network.
The cat6 cable is a step up from the cat5e, with improvements that include up to 10-Gigabit speeds. For home and small offices, upgrading to cat6 cables may not make that much of a difference since the volume of data handled by the smaller network is much less than those expected from larger networking environments.
As a clarification on the issue of speeds, you have to take note that your network speed is in no way connected to your Internet speed. The Internet speed depends on your bandwidth allocation, which is the amount of data you receive from your Internet provider. For example, an Internet speed of 10 Mbps means you receive up to 10 megabits of data per second, which is way below the data transfer speed for cat5 Ethernet cables. Your Internet speed is most likely much slower than the speed of your LAN that relies on the Ethernet cat5 cable.
If you plan to upgrade your Ethernet cables, you also have to look at the devices in your network. You will need a gigabit-compatible router and install gigabit-compatible network cards in your computers if you want to upgrade your LAN to gigabit speed. This means you will also have to replace older PCs and routers within your network.
If you transfer a large volume of data over your home or office network, upgrading your cables from the old cat5 to cat5e can help. Purchasing cat5e bulk cables to rewire your LAN will not cost much, and it will make a lot of difference in the speed of transferring files between computers, particularly if you back up your files to a NAS. However, if you do not encounter any issues with your current LAN setup and you do not expect a significant increase in the volume of data to handle, the bulk cat5 cables used to wire your network can still give you years of good service.