The next level in the cabling hierarchy is Category 6 (CAT6) (ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1), which was ratified by the TIA in June 2002. CAT6 provides higher performance than CAT5e and features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise.
Category 6 (CAT6)–Class E has a specified frequency of 250 MHz, significantly improved bandwidth capacity over CAT5e, and easily handles Gigabit Ethernet transmissions. In recent years, it has been the cable of choice for new structured cabling systems. CAT6 supports 1000BASE-T and, depending on the installation, 10GBASE-T (10-GbE).
10-GbE over CAT6 introduces the problem of Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT), the unwanted coupling of signals between adjacent pairs and cables. Because ANEXT in CAT6 10-GbE networks is so dependent on installation practices, TSB-155 qualifies 10-GbE over CAT6 up to 55 meters and requires it to be 100% tested. To mitigate ANEXT in CAT6, it is recommended that you unbundle the cables and increase the separation between the cables.
The quality of the data transmission depends upon the performance of all the components of the channel. So to transmit according to CAT6 specs, the jacks, patch cables, patch panels, cross-connects, and cabling must all meet CAT6 standards. (The channel includes everything from the wallplate to the wiring closet.) The CAT6 components are tested individually, and they are also tested together for performance. In addition, the standard calls for generic system performance so that CAT6 components from any vendor can be used in the channel.
CAT6 channel transmission requirements should result in a Power-Sum Attenuation-to-Crosstalk Ratio (PS-ACR) that's greater than or equal to zero at 200 MHz.
In addition, all CAT6 components must be backward compatible with CAT5e, CAT5, and CAT3. If different category components are used with CAT6 components, then the channel will achieve the transmission performance of the lower category. For instance, if CAT6 cable is used with CAT5e jacks, the channel will perform at a CAT5e level.