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New wiring in house - Cat6a?

cKGunslinger

Lifer
Nov 29, 1999
16,346
26
91
Just moved into older house. Needs insulation in attic and some new duct work, but prior to this, I want to run some network cable through the attic while it still relatively open. The wireless in the house is awful - swear there's solid lead in some interior walls.

For internet, we have FiOs (50Mbps now - could be 150Mbps soon.) I have an office with 2 PCs (gaming, streaming), a bedroom with a PC (gaming, streaming), and a Media Center/NAS in the Den. Would also maybe like security cams in the future.

Anyway, last time I ran cabling, Cat5e was good enough for Gigabit ethernet to everything (single router.) Is Cat6a (10GbE) future proof enough? My concerns are 4K streaming from Internet and NAS. I realize Gigabit is probably plenty enough for today, but I'm thinking ~5 years from today.

The > 1Gb speed options have gotten me confused. I just assumed Cat 6a w 10Gb ethernet was the next step? Or fiber with old commercial hardware? And should I be separating my internet connection from my LAN? ( I can run multiple lines to each room, if necessary).

Any good advice or howtos on setting-up a next-gen 4K streaming home network?
 
Last edited:

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,173
281
136
For now 10gbps network gear is too expensive to bother with in the home for most people. However CAT6a is really not that much more expensive than CAT5e, so might as well put in CAT6a while you're doing the work. I wouldn't recommend fiber for a residential setting. CAT6a is fairly future proof, or CAT7 if you really need 40gbps+.

For now the 1gbps NIC on the FiOS ONT, your router, switches, and 1gbps NICs on your client devices will be your bottlenecks. In 5+ years when 10gbps NICs, switches, and routers are cheaper you can make the upgrades where needed.


For your reference an uncompressed UHD 4k bluray stream can peak at around 140mbps with averages around 80mbps. So with 1gbps you can have ~7-8+ uncompressed 4k blurays being streamed at once with a bit of room to spare on 1gbps. 10gbps would obviously allow an even larger amount of data. And if we're talking about youtube or netflix UHD 4k content streaming you're only looking at 20-30mbps usually.

1gbps should be more than enough for the next several years, and installing CAT6a should allow you plenty of bandwidth whenever you decide it's worth the cost to upgrade to 10gbps switches and NICs.


Also, if your area doesn't have 1gbps FiOS yet I would wait before upgrading your speeds for the 1gbps rollout, unless you're with Frontier FiOS.

 

Engineer

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
39,255
698
126
I would think Cat6a would be fine. Cat6 will do 10Gbe on shorter runs. I ran Cat6 in my house a few years ago and the lengths were much shorter than the 10Gbe limit for Cat6. Go for it! :)
 

13Gigatons

Diamond Member
Apr 19, 2005
6,617
152
106
Don't bother cat 8 is the next standard. You really can't future proof. Install cat 6 or just keep using cat 5e, 6a is really too expensive.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
45,700
4,121
126
Another vote for Cat6a. Although, might want to run some RG6 (?) Coax too, just because. If you get FIOS TV, you might need it, since they haven't switched over to IPTV yet. Although, once they do, you wouldn't necessarily need the Coax.

It might be pre-mature, and too expensive, to run Fiber. Would be neat to get a 40Gbit/sec fiber metro-e connection, complete with a fiber handoff, to a fiber 40GbE LAN. Ahh, the stuff of networking pipe dreams. (Probably be standard for new construction in 10 years or less.)

Gigabit internet connections are becoming an actually-widespread thing, in both Comcast and Verizon FIOS footprints, not to mention Sonic.net, Google Fiber, etc. So definitely plan with a gigabit internet connection in mind, and leave things open for 10GbE in the future. (I expect home wired LANs to run at 10GbE over copper, in the next 3-5 years. Might take a little longer for internet connections to catch up, or maybe not, for FTTP services, as all they would have to do is upgrade their gear on each end of the fiber.)
 

XavierMace

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2013
4,307
444
126
Gigabit internet connections are becoming an actually-widespread thing, in both Comcast and Verizon FIOS footprints, not to mention Sonic.net, Google Fiber, etc.
TL;DR: No they're not and yes I'm bitter about it.

Rollouts have nearly stalled as the competitions lawyers started getting involved. The number of markets that have gigabit is quite small and it's even smaller when you realize that when they say Gigabit is available in "your" city, what they really mean is it's available in one small area of your city. Phoenix is #5 on the largest cities in the US by population. How's the gigabit situation here?

Google got cock blocked by Cox (pun intended). They've been "exploring" rolling out in Phoenix for 3 years. Cox offers Gigabit service in Phoenix you might say. That's technically true. In practice, not so much:

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r31497971-AZ-Known-Gigablast-Neighborhoods

You'll note that most of the areas mentioned there aren't in the city of Phoenix, they are in the Phoenix metro area. You'll note the actual city of Phoenix isn't on that list, nor are any of the larger cities in the metro area (Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale). Wiki lists our urban area at 3,100 sq mile and we're naming specific neighborhoods or even just developments that have access. CenturyLink supposedly has gigabit here too, but as far as anybody can tell their rollout is even smaller than Cox's. Keep in mind Cox's rollout in Phoenix started OVER 2 years ago and if I recall we're their largest market. From what I've heard from my coworkers in LA, the gigabit rollout there isn't any better. I haven't seen any exact numbers on availability but it's not good. AT&T has gigabit in Chicago, available in 150,000 homes. In a city of 3 million. Houston I understand is similarly stalled out. Of the top 5 cities, I believe New York is the best off. But even then, that's relative.

There's a reason you can't find much in the way of gigabit availability maps. It's because it's embarrassing. If www.broadbandnow.com is accurate, it lists gigabit availability at 2.5% in California, and 1.1% in New York. I question their data though as it lists Arizona at 11.4% which doesn't seem like it could possibly be accurate given the above. But even if we assume it is for the moment, half the US population lives in 9 states. Again, if that website is accurate, you're looking at an average of about 2%-3% availability in the most populated portion of the US. It drops off nearly completely in the less populated areas. So, in reality, you're looking at MAYBE 2% availability for the majority of the US population. At best. After 2 years of "rolling out".

So, yeah, Gigabit internet is still a pipe dream for most of the US. To say nothing of 10GbE.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,173
281
136
It's not accurate. I enter my zip code & address and it says the fastest Comcast offers is 100mbps. Which is false, they offer up to 1000mbps DOCSIS and they offer 2000mbps fiber optic.
For FiOS their website says they only offer up to 150/150mbps, but FiOS has offered up to gigabit here since April. (and 500mbps has been available for a few years)

 

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
933
72
91
lol i'm lucky to get 9mbps here. Still its fast enough for what I need. I don't do a lot of internet streaming.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
76,365
6,078
126
Just put in cat 6a. You are not going to get much higher than netflix's 12.5mbps for 4k streaming for the foreseeable future.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,173
281
136
You are not going to get much higher than netflix's 12.5mbps for 4k streaming for the foreseeable future.
Youtube 4k is ~20mbps.

Youtube 8k is ~80mbps.

Not that I disagree with your assessment that CAT6a will be good enough, just that there are already streaming services that make 12mbps look like nothing.

 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
53,175
6,876
126
www.uovalor.com
Is cat 6a still draft or is it an official standard now? I'd probably go with that if it's out of draft, though even if it's still draft it's been so long now it may as well be a standard. I went with cat6 myself as that was the latest at the time, and still do for new runs since I have the cabling.

If you're hardcore you can also look at cat7. But that uses really oddball connectors I think, so probably easier with a cat6 variant.

And wow I figured 4k used way more bandwidth. I presume they use some kind of compression though.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
76,365
6,078
126
Youtube 4k is ~20mbps.

Youtube 8k is ~80mbps.

Not that I disagree with your assessment that CAT6a will be good enough, just that there are already streaming services that make 12mbps look like nothing.


They should really move to hevc.
 

cKGunslinger

Lifer
Nov 29, 1999
16,346
26
91
Heh - I'm used to dealing with uncompressed, 10-bit 1080p30 video for work projects (~160MB/s), so I forget the huge savings compression gives, even for 4K. he house is pretty long, but it looks like Cat6 in the attic is plenty for the end runs from the network closet.

Still looking for any sample layouts for maximizing bandwidth and security on the internal network. Notionally, I'm thinking:

[ FiOS-> ISP_Router -> My_Router_01 ]

Then from My_Router_01, (via Gigabit Cat6):

[ Security_DVR ]
[ Gigabit_Switch_01 ]

And from Gigabit_Switch_01:

[ PC_Room_01 ]
[ PC_Room_02 ]
[ PC_Room_03 ]
[ Media_Room ]
[ NAS ]
[ My_Router_02 -> {all Wifi Devices} ]

But then again, I may be overthinking it. At this point, I think I'll probably just run 2 drops of Cat6 to each room and then go from there. Just getting off WiFi shared with ~ a dozen devices would make a huge improvement.
 

razel

Platinum Member
May 14, 2002
2,198
43
101
Nice! That's how to get home networking right. Wire it up best that you can.

I wouldn't worry too much about CAT6 or 6a. Just don't buy the cheap ebay/amazon varieties. Get Belden. It's not expensive. If you really want to future proof, run a PVC pipes to use as a conduit, you'll especially want it where you want the 'backbone' where all wires tend to converge. Then you can more readily change cables. PVC pipe conduits are allowed in walls and has been used by the home theater crowd for awhile.
 

kevnich2

Platinum Member
Apr 10, 2004
2,465
8
76
Just run flex conduit to both sides of each room into a central spot or closet in your house to serve as the pop and wire up the parts that you KNOW you will need cable with either cat5e or cat6a. Don't forget a few ceiling runs for ceiling mounted wireless AP's.

This is essentially how my house is run. I have flex conduit in all rooms and 2 ceiling mounted AP's. The only rooms that currently have wired cabling is our living room and my office. The other rooms all use devices that use the wifi. If I ever need the other rooms wired, it's easy to run cable through the flex conduit, I don't even need to get into the attic at all. I think to add an extra cable in my living room took about 15 min. Best way to future proof IMO.
 
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ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
26,223
5,842
136
If I was wiring my house today I would probably use this wire.
http://info.belden.com/10gxs

I've got Belden Cat6 in my walls now..

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
cable looks ok, but i still get a kick out of the specs marketed towards DC gear. like heat from your cables is really a concern, while frames of equipment are pumping out BTU's like its going out of style.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
53,175
6,876
126
www.uovalor.com
Interesting that it has a smaller diameter, I would have figured that would be part of the standard and that a manufacturer can't just choose to make one that is smaller. I guess it's not an issue for keystones, but it could be for crimp ends. (you should not crimp solid wire though)
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,173
281
136
If I was wiring my house today I would probably use this wire.
http://info.belden.com/10gxs

I've got Belden Cat6 in my walls now..

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
Pricing on that stuff looks ugly.

$1000+ for 1000 foot reel. You can get decent quality CMP rated cable for half that. Bulk CAT6a really only comes in 1000 foot or larger lengths as well, so for small installations you'll have a lot of excess, not like with CAT5e where you can get 500 feet or 250 feet lengths with ease.
 

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
933
72
91

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
933
72
91
Pricing on that stuff looks ugly.

$1000+ for 1000 foot reel. You can get decent quality CMP rated cable for half that. Bulk CAT6a really only comes in 1000 foot or larger lengths as well, so for small installations you'll have a lot of excess, not like with CAT5e where you can get 500 feet or 250 feet lengths with ease.
Agree it's pricey for 1000ft CMP. CMR you can get for around $550.
I used a full 1000ft roll of Belden 2412 when we wired my house and did about 30 cable runs last year. It will be awhile before I mess with it again...

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,173
281
136
CMR you can get for around $550.
I'm seeing $650 from various outlets, but even so it's a pretty high price. You can get CAT6a CMR from others for ~$300.

I'm not saying it's not good quality cable, but I'm not sure if it's really money well spent in the OPs situation.
 

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