Cat 3 and Cat 5 cabling are both used for networking local area networks (LANs). They primarily differ in transmission speed and capacity, as well as usability and current networking standards.
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Cat 5 and Cat 3 are also known as ethernet cables. "Cat" stands for "category". The digit associated with the wire represents the performance capability of the cable, based on Electronic Industries Association (EIA) standards.
Cat 3 is older and slower than Cat 5 cable. Cat 3 can handle up to 16 megahertz (MHz), which represents 16 million cycles per second. Cat 3 wiring is not optimal for high-speed Internet, but it is still valuable in phone lines and dial-up Internet connectivity. Cat 3 should not be used with voice over IP (VoIP) phone lines, which require high-speed Internet connectivity.
Cat 5 cable is capable of transmitting up to 100MHz and is the next generation from Cat 3 cable. The performance of data transfer is much improved from Cat 3 and is a current standard in high-speed Internet.
The major difference in Cat 3 and Cat 5 cabling performance is in the speed and capacity of the cables. Cat 5 is rated for 100-BaseT, while Cat 3 is rated at 10-BaseT, so Cat 5 is capable of transmitting information 10 times faster than Cat 3.
Cat 5 is significantly more expensive than Cat 3.
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