The main difference between Category 5e and Category 6 cables

The main difference between cat 5e and cat 6 is the transmission performance of each cable, as well as a difference in available bandwidth.  Category 5e cables have an available bandwidth of 100 MHz while Category 6 cable has double that capacity at 200 MHz.  The improved performance of Cat 6 results in better insertion loss, return loss, and near end crosstalk (NEXT).  This also causes a higher signal-to-noise ratio, making Cat 6 more reliable and opens the doors for future applications/higher data transfer rate of improved technology.

At the present time, no applications require 200 Mhz.  But with a constant changing landscape in the technology work, the creation of cat 6 cable sets the groundwork for higher data rates and bandwidth needs of future applications.  Bandwidth precedes data rates in much the same way as a highway is built in anticipation of traffic. Increasing bandwidth is much like adding more lanes on a highway. Past trends and future predictions indicate that data rates have been increasing by 100% every year and a half.  Current applications which run at 1 Gb/s are testing limits of cat 5e.  As businesses and end users increase the amount of streaming media applications like video and multi-media, the demand for improved data rate performance will increase and  create new applications that will be the benefactor of the improved bandwidth that category 6 cable is capable of. This trend is very similar to movement from Category 3 cable to Category 5 that occured in the early 1990s.