Advantages & Disadvantages of Cat 5 Cables

By Brenda Priddy

Many computer users and business owners face the decision of choosing which type of cable to use for their network. Cat 5 has been one of the predominant choices for many years, but other options have become available to networks in recent years. Even though there are other options to Cat 5, not all of them may suit the needs of a particular network.

Cost

One of the advantages of Cat 5 cable over other cables is that Cat 5 has remained one of the cheapest options for networking cable. Cat 5 is often used in cross-over cable jobs due to its affordability.

Transfer Speeds

Cat 5 cable affords high-transfer speeds. It can reach fairly high rates of transfer in relation to personal networks and older forms of cabling. Cat 5 cable is also capable of transferring up to four signals at once.

Versatility

Cat 5 cable has the advantage of versatility. Two forms of the cable are used. One form, called solid conductor form, is stiff and is used to connect wall sockets with the central panel. Solid conductor is the cheapest form of Cat 5. The other form, stranded conductor form, is used to connect computers to the wall socket. This type of wiring is flexible. Cat 5's versatility makes it ideal for a variety of applications, such as with computer networks and telephone wiring, even with several better wires on the market.

Data Transfer

Cat 5 cable has many limitations, especially in the constantly advancing environment of technology. One of the main disadvantages of Cat 5 cable is how much data can be sent through the cable. Cat 5 cable is very limited on its top end for data transfer. While the cable is still suited for home networking, it can only handle 100 megabits per second, and thus is not as effective for larger corporate networks or for any process that requires large data streams such as in modern television transfers.

Interference

Another disadvantage of Cat 5 cable is its sensitivity to interference. Cat 5's effectiveness is greatly reduced by electrostatic disturbances from many handheld devices and other objects that project inductive interference. Phones, microwaves, television signals, computer wireless signals and other frequency signals can cause interference with Cat 5 transfers. A Cat 5 cable can also pick up interference from other Cat 5 cables that it is combined with; this is known as cross-talk. Cross-talk can cause serious problems with data transfers and signal strength. Cross-talk interference can also reduce transfer speeds.