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I am a non-techy and need to understand if there is a reason (and why) we should look to install cat 6a in new office premises when they already have cat 5e installed.

We are a media company with a post-production facility and I need to know if the difference is going to have a significant impact on our business performance and transfer speeds to warrant a new install of cat 6a. We operate on Macs.

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The main benefit of cat6a over cat5e is the support of 10Gbit for distances over 100 meters. If you can install it, you should, the cost to put these in your infrastructure outweigh the potential cost of having to rewire the building in the future.

I personally would go for future proofing, since cat6a is still dirt cheap, even when more expensive than cat5e.

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If you are going to be working with real time streams of HD media, you will definitely need to make use of the improved transmission speed, and lower interference available with cat6a cables.

The nice thing is that Cat 6 is backwards compatible, so you can run gigabit ethernet now, then upgrade to 10 gigabit without having to rewire.

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Alright, yes, Cat 6a will support 10 gigabit networks, but right now your network most likely supports 1 gigabit speeds. 10Gbit is nice from a future perspective, but if your stations only need 1Gbit, then you can probably stick with Cat 5e for now.

My suggestion would be to get a company to validate the cable runs. Some companies have equipment that can test what speeds cable runs are rated for, the length of the run, and if there's any break points or interference. Testing out the wiring up front will save you many headaches down the road. After this is done, you will have a better understanding of whether or not it would be beneficial to redo the wiring now.

On a side-note, if you do need more bandwidth between your servers, then upgrading to 10Gbit within the stack (ie, just the server closet) may be beneficial. If this is the case, I'd also consider fiber cabling or Infiniband. Generally they'll cost you less for switching equipment and any server-only option won't require cable runs.

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