Can I Use Cat6 Cable on Cat5 Network?

Nowadays, internet data cabling has become an important part of our daily life. While, with fast update of technology, the old Ethernet patch cable versions are being substituted by the new ones for better experience. For example, Cat6 cable is an advanced version over an older one Cat5. If I update to Cat6 cable on previous Cat5 network, will it work? Read through this post and find out the answer.


What Is Cat5 Cable?

Cat5 cable is a twisted pair cable for computer networks. Consisting of four twisted pairs of unshielded copper wire, Cat5 is a multimedia cable for carrying signals to transmit information, voice and other information communication services. It is widely used in broadband access projects such as broadband user premises networks. The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for most varieties of Ethernet over twisted pair. Cat5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video. The specification for category 5 cable was defined in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A, with clarification in TSB-95.

What Is Cat6 Cable?

Cat6 cable is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5 cable standards. Similar to Cat5, Cat6 cable is made up of four twisted pairs of copper wire. Compared with the previous cable versions such as Cat5 and Cat5e cable, the best Cat6 ethernet cable has a better performance of up to 250 MHz and a faster speed of 10Gbps.

Cat6 cable must be properly installed and terminated to meet specifications. The cable must not be kinked or bent too tightly (the bend radius should be at least four times the outer diameter of the cable). The wire pairs must not be untwisted and the outer jacket must not be stripped back more than 12.7 mm.

Can I Use Cat6 Cable on Cat5 Network?

Of course, Cat6 Cable can work on Cat5 network. It is backward compatible with previous specifications, which means it can be effectively used with Cat5 network.

From the introduction above, the major components between Cat6 cable and Cat5 cable are similar. The Cat 5 Cat 6 difference mainly lies in their electrical specifications, or signal transmission capabilities. Category 6 cable has better specifications than 5 or 5e, enabling it to support faster data transmission when installed with compatible devices.

In fact, it’s typical to use newer cabling types when upgrading a physical network infrastructure, even though the hardware is still using older standards. This is how a network admin can get newer cable installed in preparation for a future time when newer hardware will be deployed.

Things You Need to Know:

The major differences between these cables are their capabilities when put into use. Nevertheless, it is apparent that both Cat5 and Cat6 cables use the same end piece known as RJ-45, which is capable of connecting to Ethernet jack on a computer, router, etc. They can be plugged in to the same ports. Therefore, Cat6 cable works on Cat5 Network. However, Cat5 cable can’t be used on Cat6 network since Cat6 network has more requirements on cabling performances and capabilities, which Cat5 cable can not reach.

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