Office & Enterprise

Category 5e – the end of an era?

Nancy De Clerck Jul 20, 2022

Not every office is created equal. Its future use and occupancy will determine which cabling infrastructure you will need. Get it wrong the first time and you are likely to have to re-cable or mitigate at some point to keep up with future demands. This post will look at where Category 6A cabling is recommended in new and upgraded buildings and Category 6 has superseded Category 5e as the minimum grade.

Modern offices and their needs

A modern office requires a network infrastructure that can keep up with its occupants’ demands for faster internet, reach and storage, but also connect a growing number of IoT devices. The most common ones being VoIP phones, WAPs and  IP cameras, which are increasingly powered through Power over Ethernet (PoE).  Building automation systems such as access control, lighting, HVAC, will typically be connected to the electricity net, although certain sensors, actuators and system controls will also be powered through PoE.

So, when planning an IT upgrade of your building - or constructing one from the ground up – you will have to provision for how much bandwidth and power will be needed for present and future.

Higher grade copper cabling

Your building’s Ethernet network needs to support a variety of applications, each with their own bandwidth and PoE requirements. So, choosing the right cabling infrastructure for these smart buildings becomes key.

New generation Wi-Fi technologies offer data rates exceeding 1Gbps and up to 10Gbps, which means that Category 5e or even Category 6 cabling will not be able to support these speeds. With Category 6A’s up to 10Gbps transmission capacity your network won’t have any problem keeping up with a smart building’s present and future bandwidth demands.

In addition, the increasing need for some of these “smart building” devices to be powered through PoE provides a requirement for higher grade cabling: compared to lower Category and/or unshielded cables, Category 6A shielded cabling minimises the effect of temperature rise in cable bundles and hence covers the necessary reach for both the power and the data transmission.

Farewell to Category 5e

At Nexans we strongly recommend building owners to opt for a LANmark-6A cabling solution with shielded Category 6A cables, connectors and patch cords . This will guarantee a reliable network for today’s applications and to maximise flexibility for tomorrow’s needs.

This growing need for higher grade copper cabling means Category 5e, standardised in 1999 and rated for 1Gbps with bandwidth up to 100Mhz, has run its course and should be given a fond farewell in favour of its higher grade brothers. And the market is clearly moving away as well with increasingly fewer network installations being deployed in Category 5e.

Nexans has therefore decided to fully focus on our Category 6, 6A, 7A as well as our optical fibre offer and to discontinue our LANmark-5 Category 5e range. Nexans will continue to support demands until October 2022 - or until stocks are depleted. Nexans will continue to honour LANmark warranties delivered for Category 5e installations throughout the duration of the warranty period.

About the author

Nancy De Clerck

Nancy is a Product Manager at Nexans Cabling Solutions responsible for the Category 5e, 6, 6A and 7A cable and connectivity portfolio. She acquired over 20 years of experience in both the commercial and technical fields of the LAN industry with a focus on the enterprise market.

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