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The Ethernet cable market is estimated to grow to $21.36 billion by 2026. What’s driving this growth is the need for high-speed transfer. To connect a network, businesses have several Ethernet cable options. CAT8 Ethernet cables are a popular choice because these copper cables have a bandwidth of over 2,000 Mbps.

But are CAT8 cables the right solution for your network? We’ll cover everything you need to know about CAT8 Ethernet cables to help you decide if they’re the best solution for your enterprise network. 

Ethernet Cable Types

Ethernet is a system of wires and cables that connect devices and hardware to create an organization’s interconnected network. Most networks utilize copper cable or fiber-optic cable for connectivity.

Each of these cable types has pros and cons for increasing network speed, lowering latency, improving reliability, and preventing security threats. Copper cable is more flexible and cost-effective, but fiber-optic cable provides better performance and safety.

While fiber-optic cabling is expected to outpace copper cabling installation in the future, there are still practical reasons to install copper cable over fiber-optic cable. Most networks don’t need the robust capability that a fiber-optic network provides. And the cost of upgrading your network to fiber-optic cabling can be significant. 

Differences Between Ethernet Copper Cable Categories

Copper cable is classified by category designations that denote the:

  • Standard Bandwidth (MHz)
  • Data Rate (Megabits per second)
  • Shielding

Higher category numbers have higher data rates. CAT3 provides the lowest data rate, and CAT8 delivers the highest data rate. Because of this, the copper cable categories are split into two segments:

  • Network Cables: CAT3, CAT5, CAT5e
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) Cables: CAT6, CAT6A, CAT7, CAT8

PoE cable can provide electrical power and data connection. To take advantage of this, many enterprises want to install CAT8 cables for their larger networks.

Cat8 Specifications

Standard specifications for a CAT8 Ethernet cable:

  • Connectors: RJ45/RJ45
  • Bandwidth: up to 2GHz
  • Shielded: Shielded foiled twisted pair (S/FTP) / 4 Pair Braid Shield
  • Max Data Rate: 40 Gbps
  • AWG: 24 AWG

These performance numbers are impressive, especially when you compare them to other Ethernet copper cables.

Ethernet Cable Speed Comparison

CategoryBandwidthMax Data RateShielding
CAT5e100 MHz1000 MbpsUTP or STP
CAT6250 MHz1000 MbpsUTP or STP
CAT6a500 MHz10 GbpsUTP or STP
CAT7600 MHz10 GbpsShielded only
CAT82000MHz25 Gbps or 40 GbpsShielded only

A CAT5 cable can transmit 100 million signals per second, while a CAT8 ethernet cable speed can transmit 2 billion signals per second. And a CAT8 data transfer rate can be 250-400 times faster than CAT5.

From the table, you can see how CAT8 is significantly more powerful than even the CAT7. Its performance is substantially greater, making it very attractive to large enterprises and driving high demand. Besides fiber-optics, CAT8 cable is a viable solution for supporting large networks.

Do you need help designing a high-performance network? Learn more about C&C Technology Group’s approach to custom-designed cabling solutions.

Related Link: CAT 5 vs. CAT 6: What You Need to Know

Cat8 Cable has length restrictions that are shorter than CAT7.

CAT8 Limitations

To enable the 40Gbps data transmission, CAT 8 cable does not have an unshielded variant. IT installers need to be careful with shield terminations when installing CAT8 cables to their network.

CAT8 cable has a maximum Permanent Link Length of 24 m (78 ft) and a maximum Channel length of 30 m (98 ft). This cable length is substantially shorter than the other categories with a 100 m (328 ft) length. The cable is also quite rigid and can be more challenging to install and terminate.

Practical Applications for Cat8 Cable

CAT8 cable is best suited for data centers and server rooms. And because it has RJ45 connectors, CAT8 cable can connect to most standard network equipment, which can upgrade your network without an equipment overhaul.

CAT8 Ethernet cable is also great for networks that are transitioning to accommodate higher data loads. If your business anticipates growth that would require upgrading from 10G, then CAT8 is a cost-effective upgrade from a CAT6 or CAT7 network.

As CAT8 cable becomes more affordable, you’ll need to decide if your network really benefits from the upgrade. For most business and home networks, CAT8 cable is more bandwidth than you really need. 

Does your data center need to be upgraded? Learn more about how C&C Technology Group can help you design and implement your data center upgrade.

Cat8 Cable can dramatically upgrade data centers and server rooms.

How Much Does Cat 8 Ethernet Cable Cost

Because the CAT8 cable offers premium performance and the demand for CAT8 is high, you’re going to pay more for it than other category cables. CAT5 will be significantly less because the performance is dramatically different.

That said, CAT8 cable is a very affordable option compared to fiber optics. Because most enterprises utilize a comparable CAT6 or CAT7 cabling, switching to CAT8 is relatively easy and cost-efficient because it doesn’t require other hardware.

But if you know in the future that you’ll need more than 40G, then you may want to invest in fiber-optics because it can scale to a 100G or 400G. But this upgrade would be a significant investment.

CAT8 Ethernet Cable is a Viable Solution for Enterprise Networks, Data Centers, and Server Rooms

As CAT8 becomes more accessible, enterprises will upgrade their networks for higher speeds, increased performance, and EoP. CAT8 is a cost-effective solution for data centers and enterprises that need more than 10G data transmission.

The most significant advantage of the CAT8 cable is its RJ45 connection that is compatible with old and new hardware, systems, and devices. IT can upgrade their network performance without overhauling their equipment.

C&C Technology Group specializes in technology integration and can help you assess your network to increase high-speed transfer. Our enterprise IT infrastructure team can design or troubleshoot your network to create a efficient networking solution that can grow with your business.

Do you need help troubleshooting or design your data center infrastructure? Contact C&C Technology Group for a consultation.

Related Link: Legrand’s IoT Application Guide

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