Ethernet Over CAT 3: Does It Work?

ethernet over cat 3
ethernet over cat 3

Ethernet, or wired connections, have been the first choice for many customers due to some factors that set them above their wireless counterparts. For example, Ethernet and wi-fi transmit signals through different means.

That in itself is already a feature that creates a difference in the stability of the signal transmission. When it comes to coverage area, for example, the differences are also fairly noticeable. 

It is true that both kinds of connection can deliver outstanding results. But, as they keep battling over which is the fastest or most stable, people end up finding new ways to enjoy their internet time.

cat 3 enthernet cable set up for home connections

So, in case you are asking whether CAT 3 Ethernet cables are suitable for the set-up of home connections, we have some interesting points you might want to know. The answer is yes, but there are some conditions we should tell you about.

What Is Ethernet Over CAT 3 Technology?

First of all, let us walk you through the definition and features of the CAT 3 Ethernet cable, as we wouldn’t like to assume every reader is an expert in the matter.

So, if you are not so acquainted with what a CAT 3 cable is and what it does, check this detailed info we brought you today. It’ll only take 2 minutes. We promise!

CAT 3, or Category 3, is a term designed to identify cable technology that is largely used for internet signal transmission. As the number after the name says, it is the third version of this type of cable technology.

CAT 1 was and still is, limited to carrying only voice, which renders it redundant for video streaming.

CAT 2, however, can transmit data at over 4 Mbps speeds and at 4 MHz frequency. This means that some form of video streaming can be achieved, though these rates are still far from ideal for that purpose. 

CAT 3 is the first in the line of 8 types of cables that allows proper video streaming as it reaches 10 Mbps over a 16 MHz frequency. That, for many, is still not the perfect setting for video streaming.

These users consider 15 Mbps as the basic minimum starting speed for proper streaming, which can only be achieved from CAT 4 onward.

On the other hand, users who set their Ethernet systems up with CAT 3 cables seem to be satisfied with the speeds and frequency of their connections. 

satisfied with the speeds and frequency of their connections

Concerning the features of the CAT 3 Ethernet connection, it definitely enjoys higher stability when compared to wi-fi, for example. The range, however, can be compromised within this same comparison.

Wireless networks are designed to cover a larger area and the newest technologies allow wi-fi signals to spread over extremely large areas.

Ethernet connections are limited to the length of the cable, and it can be a hassle to go through corners, walls, or whatever else for the cable to reach its destination.

Ethernet connections problem are limited to the length of the cable

In terms of speed, CAT 3 cables come from the factory with a limitation of 100 Mbps. This might seem too low when compared to the newer versions of the Ethernet cable, but even the CAT 6 cable can have the same limitation.

It’s all about using wires 1, 2, 3, and 6 when setting up the connection, which means that, no matter how advanced the cable category is, this combination of wires should limit the connection speed anyway.

As Ethernet has currently four versions, 10 Mbit, 100 Mbit, 1000 Mbit, and 10,000 Mbit, using the proper cable will define how fast your connection speed is able to reach.

CAT 3 cables are also known as ethernet copper cables and they are quite suitable for LAN set-ups. They might not reach speeds as high as the newer versions, but they won’t disappoint users who do not demand such high speeds.

disappoint users who do not demand such high speeds

Most recently, CAT 3 cables started being replaced by CAT 5 ones, because these deliver higher speed rates. However, between CAT 3 and CAT 5, there is still a fair difference in price, which makes CAT 3 remain the most widely used for Ethernet connections.

Surely, with time, CAT 5 cables may become cheaper and the difference in speed could lead people into buying the newer one, but for now, it is still not worth it for most of us.

Concerning the transmission method, the newest technology allows the use of all four pairs of wires, which should definitely increase the speed and enhance the stability of the Ethernet connection.

However, since CAT 3 has a more limited speed range and delivers lower data transfer rates, it might be a good idea for a home Ethernet set-up, but not more than that.

For high-end users, or for connections that deal with transfers of large files, 4K video streaming, or gaming, CAT 3 Ethernet will not be the best option. So, if you are amongst this user-type, make sure to get a CAT 5 Ethernet cable, at the very least.

choose ethernet cable very last to your top speed connection

CAT 3 Ethernet cables are also compatible with VoIP and PBX phone systems and largely used in modem spaces due to their two-line configuration features.

Once again, should the data flow require more than the limited 10-Mbit over 16 MHz of CAT 3 cables, the set-up should be done using a higher-speed CAT 5 cable.

So, if you are still wondering if an Ethernet connection can be set up with a CAT 3 cable, the answer is yes, it can! However, the kind of internet usage must be taken into account before opting for a CAT 3 Ethernet cable.

top speed of this kind of cable ethernet

Since the top speed of this kind of cable is limited to 10 Mbit over 16 MHz frequency, streaming 4K videos, transferring large files, or playing top-of-the-line online games might be a little ambitious here.

However, for most of the common uses for internet connections, CAT 3 cable should be more than enough. So, keep that in mind before choosing the cable that best meets your internet usage demands.

In A Nutshell

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In case you are wondering if you can perform an effective Ethernet connection through a CAT 3 cable, the answer is yes. However, if your internet usage involves streaming videos, transferring large files, or gaming, CAT 3 will be too limited.

If this is the case, then go for a CAT 5 cable as they are able to deliver much higher speeds. Lastly, if budget is a worry, then CAT 3 cables may still be the best option as the CAT 5 ones are still considerably more expensive than the third version.

Finally, if it happens that you have some extra knowledge regarding CAT 3 Ethernet cables and the setting up of connections with this component, don’t be shy and tell us all about it.

Write to us through the comments box and help us enlighten our fellow readers that might find themselves asking these same questions. Additionally, with every bit of feedback, we are able to build a stronger and more united community.

So, what about sharing your knowledge with us and helping these people out?

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