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Fiber Optic Cabling vs Cat 6: What You Must Know

Posted by Scott Resnick on Wed, Mar 27, 2013

While Cat6 cables have long been used for network connectivity in Houston, this type of cabling might not be the go-to choice for long. Instead, as video streaming and wireless communications become more standard business practices, this kind of copper wiring might meet its bandwidth limitations. Instead, a fiber-optic infrastructure is increasingly becoming the gold standard for companies reaching their bandwidth limits with Cat6. Passive optical networks (PON) and active Ethernet (AE) can help companies transition into fiber optic cabling easily and without hassle.

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That doesn’t mean that Cat6 is completely obsolete. In fact, it’s certainly still relevant for companies with limited bandwidth needs. Cat6 might be the way to go if you want the real-world speed of your Internet to match the speeds promised.

So which of these is best for your company? The intent of this post is to familiarize you with both cables by examining how each works and what makes them different from one another.

What is Cat6 cabling?

Category 6 cabling (often shortened to cat-6 or cat6) is a type of data cabling that is standard for Gigabit Ethernet and several other network protocols which are not compatible with cat3 cables. As the sixth generation Ethernet cables formed from twisted pairs of copper wiring, cat6 is composed of four pairs of wires, similar to cat5 cables. The primary difference between the two, though, is that cat6 makes full use of all four pairs. This is why cat6 can support communications at more than twice the speed of cat5e, allowing for Gigabit Ethernet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

It is cat6's speed that has made it such a great choice for VoIP telephony, but there are some setbacks. The most significant drawback for many businesses are looks: tethered cabling doesn’t look attractive, and, of course, being connected to a cable is limiting. 

For starters, there are length restrictions in using this type of data cabling. When used for 10/100/1000BASE-T, the restriction is 100 meters, and when used for 10GBASE-T, the restriction is 55 meters. Another issue is that there are some cat6 cables that are very large and are quite difficult to connect to 8P8C connectors (a type of modular connectors used for communications purposes such as phone/Ethernet jacks) when the user does not have a unique modular piece. 

What about fiber optic cabling?

What is it about fiber optic cabling in Houston that has made it so popular? Sometimes referred to as optical fiber, fiber optic cable is completely unique from cat6 and other types of structured cabling systems in Houston. This is because optical fiber works by drawing on light as opposed to electricity as a means of transmitting signals. As we all know, light is the fastest mode of transmitting any information which is great for businesses with the need for speed. And because fiber optic cabling has a much cleaner signal than conventional copper cabling, it is able to transmit signals faster than ever before.

Another great thing about optical fiber is that it is immune to electrical interference. This means that a user can run it just about anywhere, anytime. The immunity of light to resistance also allows fiber optic cabling to be run over extremely long distances. In fact, it can be run countries apart without any need for boosting or cleaning the signal. 

Of course, there are those who doubt the reliability of fiber optic cabling. Fiber optic cabling is susceptible to damage, like splits or scratches, that affect the conductors or casing. If the minute fibers are damaged, too, the damage cannot be seen just with the naked eye. Instead, a fiber optic tracer must be used to ascertain the damage. 

Phone companies, which are rapidly phasing out copper systems, claim that copper wiring is just as unreliable and can be damaged by falling trees or poles. Additionally, many companies are also taking measures to decrease fiber optic cables' vulnerability to water in order to prevent future problems.

Final Thoughts

So which should you choose?

Cat6 has its benefits, especially over Cat5e cables. Data transfers are fast, your wiring is safe, and your bandwidth allotment is fairly efficient.

While Cat6 might work for now, however, fiber optic cabling in Houston is surely the wave of the future. With the adoption and need for more and more wireless devices, fiber optic cabling can make your Internet much faster than even high-speed copper cabling, with speeds of up to 100 Gbps. If your company often runs into periods of high demand for Internet, fiber optic cabling can keep you up and running smoothly.

Contact us today to learn more about installing fiber optic cabling in your Houston office. We can also install Cat6 data cabling for your communication needs if that’s your choice. Or, if you’re ready for the wave of the future, our fiber optic cabling option could be your best bet for Voice over Internet (VoIP) and other to-the-minute technologies. 

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Topics: Structured Cabling

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