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Cat 6 Outdoor Cable - A Buying Guide

Designed for external use, a Cat 6 outdoor cable provides a fast means of connecting devices to one another via a wired Ethernet connection. These products are sold in various lengths on eBay, and you can use them to connect your home to your garden office, for example. Like their internal counterparts, external Cat6 cables are fitted with an RJ-45 jack at each end so you can plug them directly into Ethernet-enabled equipment, such as computers, network switches, video conferencing equipment, and scanners.

What are the key characteristics of an external Cat6 cable?

An outdoor Cat 6 cable can be supplied with both untwisted pairs (UTP) of copper wires inside them as well as those with shielded twisted pairs (STP). The foil shielding used within an STP Cat6 outdoor cable provides an additional layer of protection, but it is the beefier outer shielding that determines whether or not a network cable of any type is suitable for exterior use. An outdoor Cat 6 cable should provide you with:

  • Speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second.
  • Bandwidth of 250 MHz.
  • Distances of up to 55 metres.
What's the difference between Cat 6 and Cat 6a?

Any outdoor cable that is marketed as Cat 6a is effectively an updated version of Cat6 which will work with all of the same sorts of networking equipment you'd find in an office these days. Cat6a has a greater bandwidth of 500 MHz and offers reduced crosstalk due to its internal sheathing. If you are going to the expense of installing an outdoor cable, then it is an option worth considering.

What characteristics should an external network cable have?

Any exterior network cable, including an outdoor Cat6 cable, needs to be resistant to water and frost with a thick layer of plastic rubber on the outside to protect it. They should also have boots at either end to protect the area where the internal wires connect to the RJ-45 at either end. This means they are less liable to damage if they become accidentally snagged outside.

Do you need other equipment to support an outdoor Cat6 cable?

In theory, it is possible to run a Cat6 shielded external cable along the ground temporarily without any issues. In places where they will be installed more permanently, it is advisable to offer them more protection by running them through external trunking or inside a pipe, particularly if they are to be buried underground.

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