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Maximum CAT5e cable length?

What's the maximum length CAT5e cable can be before it starts to cause problems with signal quality? We're running the cable from a switch out to a detatched portion of the house where my roommate's brother has a recording studio... I'm not quite sure of the distance, but as long as he can keep link, that's all that matters. Frankly, I kinda hope that bandwidth deteriorates over long cable runs, as I don't want him siphoning off our precious bandwidth.

Electronic Punk

Staff member
Political User
Yeah, we actually feed a cable over the roof here, to keep the wires out.
(ISDN so the situation is a little different as you need an additional terminator for ISDN -but the cable works great)
100m is what I thought... I guess we'll be fine then as the cable run isn't near 100m from what I can tell. I'm not a very good judge of distance, though. :p Now, if only there was some way to limit his bandwidth to a certain amount from this end, it'd be nice. :)
I'd recommend burying it (12-18 inches down). If you get a nearby lightning strike it could take out your whole network and anything attached. The residential Etehrent equipment is not really protected for running outdoors.
Actually it's not residential ethernet cable, it's construction grade all-weather stuff apparently. My friend ripped it off from a construction site and it's a 1000' spool of Hitachi cable. Oddly, the cable seems to be thinner in cross-section than the fast cat5e Belkin pre-terminated stuff I bought for use in the house.


Debiant by way of Ubuntu
cryogenic said:
.. perhaps aerial? no idea.
:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

You just put out a lightning conductor and attached your home network to it! :eek:

Also - I am surprised 100m is a limit for CAT5, for some reason I thought you could run it a kilometre or two :confused: Not that I have tried it, just had that idea in my head, maybe I shifted the decimal point right? :rolleyes:

Electronic Punk

Staff member
Political User
Cat5e is capable of doing a gig, but I imagine it finds it diffiult to maintain and I imagine the distance is shorter. Cat6 can maintain it, but again, I bet the distance is shorter. For longer links we use fiber obtic, but I don't think that would be much use for home :)
yup 100m had a lecture on networking cables the other day at Uni, you could potentially use coaxial cable which has a distance of 185m, but as ElectronicPunk said for long ranges Fibre is usually used or perhaps microwave transmission, but thats a bit out there for this kind of situation.

Prob best thing is measure out the cable length you need, then measure the length of cable you are using. If its more than 100m then you are going to need to stick a booster, or repeater in there at some point.

Directional Wireless out of a window could do it as well, it has an outside range of 500m, though might be effected by storms and the like.


Debiant by way of Ubuntu
[killa_bunny] said:
...Directional Wireless out of a window could do it as well, it has an outside range of 500m,...
Actually I think this would really be the way to go - I have read about kit that can easily manage a Kilometre or two with clear line of sight. This will have the added benefit of giving you wi-fi in your Yard/Garden or whetever area if that is of interest.... Plus the chances are, depending where and how good the receiver in the studio are, that he will be around the 50% to 60% mark and if that is from an 80211b networking kit you are only talking about a small proportion of the bandwidth that I assume you have in total - so you get to keep the lions share on your cabled connect!

Saves you from the lightening strike danger - or limits it far more for sure and makes setup a breeze - you just need to research a little carefully on what to buy and spend out a little more.

Here is a link I saw recently that made me think this could work for you after Killa mentioned it - they claim 3km for that one!
I'd prefer to go wireless, actually... however, I'm not the one doing the cable running... as it is, the cable in question would be running from however far away it is, to an 8 port switch in the house, which is then connected to a 5 port switch, which has the main computer connected to it.. and the cable modem is connected to the main computer. I personally don't care what happens to anything coming off the 8-port switch as my computer is connected to the 5-port. The problem is that the person who wants to leech off our internet connection is so insanely cheap that he won't even pay for cable TV himself (his is teed off our connection)... Ah, the joys of my roommate having his parents living next door. If it was my choice, I'd just say "screw you, get your own cable modem". But I can't.

as a side note, it appears that he's decided to bury the cable, since I see a trench dug back to where the computer in question is. At any rate, I'm hoping that signal quality is poor enough such that he won't be able to put much of a dent in our bandwidth.
http://www.netlimiter.com/ its shareware but im sure you can find a full copy :p, from what ive read you can slow the speed down one one computer soo depending on your setup etc this or something similar may help you out to slow down the traffic going to his computer :)


Electronic Punk said:
Cat5e is capable of doing a gig, but I imagine it finds it diffiult to maintain and I imagine the distance is shorter. Cat6 can maintain it, but again, I bet the distance is shorter. For longer links we use fiber obtic, but I don't think that would be much use for home :)
The main difference between Cat5 and 5e is that the covering over the actual wires inside the cable is different. In covering in 5 is just a rubber plastic while the covering in 5e is designed to decrease signal-cross. The result is 5e can do up to 1Gb without loosing distance. This, however, requires some good termination to achieve consistently.

Cat6 (which is what I use in my house) is the exact same thing as Cat5e with the exception that it has a T-BAR cross inside the cable seperating each color pair. This T-BAR further reduces signal-cross between the color pairs. The result is a consistent 1Gb+ connection without distance degredation. The problem is that Cat6 (to work correctly) has to have a REALLY good termination on both the RJ45 ends and the panels if you terminate to them. This is why business who use Cat6 use high level (Tech-II) cable installers that are capable of certifying their work.
That leads me to another question... If bought pre-made by, say, Belkin... is Cat6 any better than Cat5e when used for GbE? I understand it's not going to make a terrible amount of difference for standard 100mbps networks, but would it make a difference for gigabit?


If it's premade (correctly), it is far better than Cat5e for GbE. Cat6 is more consistent at GbE than Cat5e is and can maintain higher throughputs longer. I have seen people send as much as 3Gb over Cat6 (although not consistent).


OSNN Junior Addict
100 meters is the rule, but on a practical note I've had runs upwards of 170 meters with a fairly constant connection.

In fact we (USMC) had one run that was longer than 100 meters (can't remember how long exactly) but it went along a ditch, through a culvert under a dirt road that had running water in it. It then went through another dirt road with no culvert, so we buried it approximately 1 inch into the dirt/gravel. Humvees and 5 ton trucks drove over this for days and none of the multiple users at the far end of the connection complained about the "network being slow".

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