Frequently Asked Question’s

What is the difference between Cat5e and Cat6?

There are a number of differences between Cat5e and Cat6 cables to consider before deployment. Both types are twisted pair cables. Category 5 enhanced cables (Cat5e) are able to support Gigabit Ethernet speeds. Category 6 (Cat6) is a standardised cable that moves beyond 5e technology with precise interference specifications and the ability for 10-gigabit speeds. Category 6 cable also provides a greater bandwidth of 200 MHz for media applications, compared to 100 MHz for the basic Cat5e product. Cat6 cables feature a higher signal-to-noise ratio than Cat5e. However, Cat5e cabling is more economical. Both categories offer backwards compatibility. Here’s a rundown of Cat5e versus Cat6 cabling:

Cat5e Features:

  • Affordable
  • Frequency of up to 100MHz
  • Less interference than Cat5
  • Top speed of 1000Mbps
  • Maximum cable length of 100 metres
  • RJ45 Connectors

Cat6 Features:

  • Affordable, but slightly more expensive than Cat5e
  • Maximum frequency of 500MHz
  • Maximum cable length is 100metres for slower network speeds (up to 1000Mbps), or 55 metres maximum for higher network speeds
  • Less interference than Cat5e
  • Top speed of 10Gbps over 55 metres of cable
  • RJ45 Connectors

Applications, such as media streaming, demand faster data rates. Cat5e applications include multimedia solutions and the transmission of large data sets. It is the lowest category cable for Gigabit Ethernet. Cat5e cable can establish a single computer connection or link multiple LAN devices. Within a business network, Cat5e patch cabling can connect a scope of devices, including computers, ports and patch panels.

Companies may choose Category 6 cable when faced with multiple and simultaneous network demands, including large data transfers and video conferencing. To achieve faster, more reliable transmissions, Cat6 applications require patch cables, jacks, and connectors that are rated for Cat6 standards. When installed with compatible equipment, the following Category 6 cable applications are supported: digital audio/video, network security and high-speed transmissions.

Comms Express offers reliable Cat5e and Cat6 cable for specific applications.

What is a Power Distribution Unit (PDU)?

The term PDU stands for Power Distribution Unit. They are devices that distribute AC power to equipment by using multiple outputs. Basic PDUs, also referred to as power strips, offer flexibility in placement. A step above the Basic PDU is the Metered PDU that monitors and displays the aggregate current travelling through the device. It allows network managers to monitor energy consumption on-site, in the mission-critical environment. These Power Distribution Units offer varying levels of local usage monitoring, as well as features such as surge protection and mixed sockets. At the next level is the monitored PDU with remote monitoring capabilities.

The highest category of PDU includes the advanced Switched PDU models, which allow individual outlets to be remotely monitored and controlled using the SNMP protocol, secure Web browser or other access methods.

Rack PDU Distributes Power to Network Devices

Rack PDU is mounted in a standard IT equipment rack. The dimensions of a rack mount PDU allow the units to be placed in close proximity to racked devices, supporting appropriately distributed power to computers and peripherals. Additional vertical and horizontal PDU designs allow for wall mounting or placement on the side of a rack. A range of rack mount and cabinet PDU options are available.

Switched PDU Offers Remote Management

Efficient IT environments benefit from Switched PDUs which feature remote management. The term switched, in this case, refers to controlling the power of individual outlets on the power distribution unit. Remote activations, reboots, and shutdowns are easily performed on or off the site. Devices can be shut down at scheduled times and sequentially. Switched Rack PDUs also alert administrators to circuit overloads before they occur. The intelligent switched device with remote management is an asset during emergencies.

View our PDU Input Connectors and PDU Output Connectors.

What is the difference between Smart Managed, Managed & Unmanaged Network Switches?

Smart Managed Switches

smart managed switches

Preparing for future growth can include utilising Smart Managed Switches for network management. The performance-improving features of smart switches can range from basic to complex. By configuring smart switch options, administrators gain greater control over data transmissions, while improving efficiency. In comparison to fully managed switches, intelligent switch models will have some limitations. For example, most do not allow for the management of advanced features, such as IP multi-casting. However, reliable smart switches do support the management of:

  • Quality of Service
  • VLANs
  • Link Aggregation
  • Web Management

If advanced applications are not required, then Smart Managed Switches can be the perfect solution for simple applications for small to medium sized businesses with networks. Some of the specific Smart Managed Switch Ranges available can be found below:

  • Standalone Smart Managed Switches – Purposely designed for small to medium sized businesses which come with high performance, SMB-oriented features and easy management – supporting Voice over IP (VoIP), streaming media, multicasting, security, and many other bandwidth-intensive applications.
  • Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Smart Managed Switches – An ideal solution for businesses with future expansion in mind where the network needs to support speeds greater than 1 gigabit from incoming new multispeed devices.
  • Gigabit Stackable Smart Managed Switches with 10G Copper/Fibre Uplinks – A cost-effective 10G solution with ultimate flexibility in 10-Gigabit connectivity either via copper or fibre.
  • 10-Gigabit Smart Managed Switches – Purposely designed for small to medium sized businesses with cost-effective 10GBASE-T connectivity and advanced L2+/ Layer 3 Lite features.
  • Stackable Smart Managed Switches – Designed for growing networks, providing true stacking capability with high performance, scalability and reliability.
  • Stackable Smart Managed Switches with 10G Uplinks – Suitable for small to medium sized businesses with growing networks, stackable smart managed switches with 10G uplinks and are best paired with 10-gigabit ready servers and network storage systems.

Web Smart Managed Switches

web smart managed switches

More often than not Smart Managed Switches are managed via a web browser which enables users to maintain their networks through intuitive guidance. Web Smart Managed Switches have become a viable solution for businesses with mid-sized networks that require management. Web Smart Switches come with switch management features such as port monitoring, link aggregation. Web Smart Switches also come with a simple Web interface via an embedded Web browser to provide VPN. Typically these switches do not come with SNMP management capabilities or a CLI. Web Smart Switches are also typically managed individually as opposed to group management. Some of the specific Web Smart Switch Ranges available can be found below:


  • Gigabit Smart Managed Plus Switches – Deliver network monitoring, traffic prioritization and network segmentation to small businesses who want more visibility and control on top of plug-and-play connectivity
  • 10-Gigabit/Multi-Gigabit Smart Managed Switches – Cost-effective 10-Gigabit and Multi-Gigabit copper switching solution available for SMBs, workgroups, and even home users

Cloud Smart Managed Switches

Cloud Smart Managed Switches enable monitoring and remote/cloud management of your networks Smart Managed Switches from anywhere. Some of the specific Cloud Smart Managed Switch ranges available can be found below:

  • Smart Managed Cloud Gigabit Switches – Fully-integrated, cloud-manageable devices. All Gigabit models have copper Gigabit Ethernet ports.
  • Smart Managed Cloud Gigabit/10G SFP+ switches – Fully-integrated, cloud-manageable devices. All Gigabit/10G SFP+ models have copper Gigabit Ethernet ports, 2 dedicated Gigabit SFP fibre ports, and 2 dedicated 10G SFP+ fibre ports.

Managed Switches

Managed switches are designed to work for large data centre and enterprise networks. Generally managed switches have a serial port which allow recovery from misconfiguration with minimal downtime. Managed switches also have more intelligent functions like port mirroring and monitoring management, which enables users to prioritise network traffic and get a high degree of control over their networks. Additional Features to Managed Switches include:

  • Quality of Service (QOS)
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
  • Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)
  • Redundancy
  • Port Mirroring

Unmanaged Switches

Unmanaged Switches enable Ethernet devices such as computers and printers to communicate with each other. Unlike Managed Switches, Unmanaged Switches come with a fixed configuration which are not editable. Primarily Unmanaged Switches are used in small networks where network traffic is light and flows unrestricted between devices without the need for giving priority to packets. Some of the specific Unmanaged Switch Ranges available can be found below:

  • 10-Gigabit/Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switches
  • Fast Ethernet Unmanaged Switches
  • Gigabit Unmanaged Switches
What is Fibre Optic Cable?

what is fibre cable?

Multimode and singlemode versions of fibre optic cables come sized for short and longer distance applications. These segments of fibre optic cable are terminated at each end with a connector to create the patch cord. Connectors on the fibre optic patch cord ends include LC, ST, SC and other types. Cable descriptions will list end-to-end connections, such as LC to ST or LC to LC. Singlemode fiber cable is commonly utilized over long distances, while multimode fibre optic cable is designed for shorter-length applications. Both support high speed networks. A fibre optic patch cable (also called patch cord) will come in a variety of jacket colours and should be connected to a similar type of cable.

Types of Fibre Optic Cable

Fibre optic patch cords are assemblies that have been pre-tested to ensure performance standards. Multimode cables are classified as OM1, 2, 3, and 4. Multimode fibre cable specifications include core diameters of 62.5/125 micron for OM1 and 50/125 for the other classifications. This size is printed on the cable. Singlemode are classified as OS1 and 2 with a 9/125 micron core. A cable may be described as an OM3 50/125 fiber optic patch cable, or as a 9/25 singlemode patch cable in 3m length. The OM2 multimode fibre is commonly used in LANs. The 10 Gigabit-capable OM3 is now a preferred choice over OM1.

Duplex Fibre Patch Cable

A duplex fibre patch cable is comprised of dual cores. Both multimode and single-mode can be duplex cable versions with data transmissions via two directions. Simplex cables send data in a single direction. Fibre optic patch cables and pre-terminated fibre optic cable offer convenience. Additional information on fibre optic and UTP patch cable is found at Comms Express.