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  • Writer's pictureBen Lake

Geek Speak: Cat 5 & 6

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Have you ever heard a geek arrogantly toss around feline terms like “cat five” and “cat six”? They aren’t talking about their favorite calico – these words refer to networking cable, sometimes called Ethernet. And the “cat” is just short for Category. The numbers refer to the specification of the cable characteristics – the wire gauge, insulation thickness, twist tightness, etc. To make things more confusing, there are in-between categories: Cat 5e and Cat 6a, for example. Any cable category will work, but if you find one labeled Cat 5, replace it with a higher number because it may be holding back your speed (Cat 5e is fine). And when buying new Ethernet cables look for Cat 6 or 6a to futureproof your wiring.

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