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What’s The Difference Between Cat6 And Cat6A Cable?

AuthorMoore

Date11/11/2022

Cat6 and Cat6A cables have gained massive popularity in the market due to their excellent performance, the Cat6A has better performance and crosstalk improvements than Cat6. This article will introduce the differences between Cat6 and Cat6A and will discuss the history and speed of Cat6A Ethernet cable technology.

The demand for the network in the data center is gradually expanding, the hardware level is also constantly developing, and new augmented categories of cabling standards such as Cat6 and Cat6A Ethernet cables are continuously introduced. When Cat6 cable is used in 10 Gigabit Ethernet, it will be limited by the transmission distance. When transmitting through 10GBASE-T copper, the maximum transmission distance is only 55 meters. The enhanced Cat6A Ethernet cable can reach a maximum transmission distance of 100 meters on 10GABSE-T. What causes this difference? This post will introduce the difference between Cat6 vs Cat6A cabling.

 

Cat6 and Cat6A Cabling Development History

 

The history of data communication transmission is developed with various cables and hardware. When data transmission technology reaches a limit, the hardware also needs to keep up with the pace of data transmission development. Data networks and local area networks (LANs) require appropriate cables and connectors. We all know that the telephone network is the predecessor of the data network. It is difficult to imagine that the Ethernet up to Gigabit or 10 Gigabit today developed from the original telephone network. LAN is very important in actual network construction. If the correct cables are not selected, high-performance data networks and local area networks will not be able to exert their maximum capabilities. The Ethernet technology is now well-positioned to support the dominant technology development of LAN.

 

 

Engineers are always looking for higher network speeds, so newer devices are always moving towards faster speeds or longer transmission distances. The grades and classes of copper cables dictate the normative network parameters for the different classes of copper cables and what appropriate hardware should be connected to. Cat3 cables were introduced in the late 1980s, and this category of cables can support speech data transmission, as well as 10BASE-T Ethernet. In the late 1990s, the newly emerged Category 5 cable was widely used, and the fast network speed of up to 100Mbps made the Category 3 cable soon no longer suitable for the network speed requirements at that time. The next generation of Category 5 cable is Cat5e, which is an enhanced version of Cat5, which improves the crosstalk specification of the cable. It better supports gigabit networks and high data transmission, and the network operation is more stable.

 

Over the past decade, Category 6 cable and connectors have replaced Cat5e cable as the basic requirement in new construction today. Cat6 cable supports gigabit networks and has increased bandwidth to 250 MHZ compared to its predecessor. Cat6 is now also replacing Cat5e cable in residential environments. Cat6A, an enhanced version of Cat6, supports 10G data rates, up to 500MHZ bandwidth, and a maximum transmission distance of 100m. Many buildings that require higher transmission rates, such as data centers, universities, and hospitals, have made Cat6A Ethernet cable a new building requirement. Cat7 and Cat8 cables have also seen initial development, supporting higher transmission rates and bandwidths, but due to their higher price, Category 6 cable is still the most cost-effective cable system available.

 

Cable Standard

Maximum Bandwith

Maximum Distance

Maximum Data Rate

Networks Supported

Networks Supported

Level 1 (CAT1)

0.4MHz

-

1Mbps

-

Level 2 (CAT2)

4MHz

-

4Mbps

-

-

Category 3

10MHz

-

10Mbps

-

10BASE-T

Category 4

20MHz

-

16Mbps

-

10BASE-T

Category 5

100MHz

100 meters

100Mbps

UTP or STP

100BASE-T

Category 5e (Class D)

100MHz

100 meters

1Gbps

UTP or STP

1000BASE-T

Category 6 (Class E)

250MHz

100 meters (55meters at 10Gbps)

10Gbps (limited distance)

UTP or STP

1000BASE-T

Category 6A (Class Ea)

500MHz

100 meters

10Gbps

UTP or STP

10GBASE-T

CAT 7 (Class F)

600MHz

100 meters (50m at 40Gbps)

10Gbps

Shielded only

10GBASE-T

CAT 7a

1000MHz

100 meters

10Gbps

Shielded only

10GBASE-T

CAT 8

2000MHz

30 meters

25Gbps or 40Gbps

Shielded only

25GBASE-T 40GBASE-T

 

The Difference Between CAT6 vs Cat6A Cabling

 

Cat6 Cabling

 

Cat6 cable is also known as Category 6 Ethernet cable. This version is an improved version of Cat5e. It is composed of 4 pairs of copper wires, it supports a 10Gbps Ethernet connection, the maximum transmission distance depends on the transmission rate, when transmitting at a 10Gbps rate, the maximum distance is only 37-55m (different crosstalk will affect the transmission distance), usually, The maximum transmission distance of 100m can be achieved under the common 1Gbps transmission rate. 

 

Cat6 cable provides greater bandwidth than Cat5e cable, reaching 250MHZ. The Category 6 cable uses an RJ45 interface, making it backward compatible with previous versions. When Cat6 cable first came on the market, its price reached about 1.5 times that of Cat5e cable, and with the development in recent years, the cost of Cat6 cable has reached a level similar to that of Cat5e cable. With the support of a higher transmission rate, longer transmission distance, and larger transmission bandwidth, Cat6 cable has become the minimum standard for the installation of new wiring systems.

 

 

Cat6A Cabling

 

Cat6A cable is an enhanced version of the Cat6 cable, the Cat6A cable specification is ANSI/TIA-568.2-D (replaces 568-C. 2), defined by TIA in 2018. Cat6A cable supports a maximum data rate of 10Gbps, and its maximum bandwidth is 500MHZ, which is twice the bandwidth of Cat6. The maximum transmission distance is also twice that of Cat6, the data rate of 10Gbps can be maintained at a distance of 100m. The Cat6A connector is RJ45, which supports backward compatibility with previous cables.

 

In terms of construction, the Cat6A has extra and tighter twists, and a stronger jacket, which can completely eliminate AXT (extraneous crosstalk) and improve the quality of SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). In 2008, when Cat6A first came on the market, the volume was larger than the current 50% larger. Since then, the size of the cable has been reduced by 10%.

 

 

When we are building a new network cabling system, we need to fully consider the demand for future networks. Cat6A infrastructure is undoubtedly the most suitable choice. With the development of network systems, you will face more complex network technology and hardware. Cat6A cable supports the same data rate as Cat6 but can bring twice the transmission distance and bandwidth, and bring less crosstalk. Also, the Cat6A connector, RJ45, is convenient for a smooth upgrade to the Cat6A system for the old cable system.

 

The price difference between Cat6 and Cat6A cables is not particularly large relative to the performance difference between them. The Cat6A cable price can be about 20-35% higher than Cat6 for different vendors. The Cat6A price is not much higher relative to the improved performance, which further proves that the Cat6A cable is cost-effective.

 

The Shielding Difference Between Cat6 VS Cat6A

 

In addition to the difference in parameters, Cat6 and Cat6a also differ in insulation structure. Adding insulation in the form of a thin jacket to surround the inner twisted pair increases the shielding resistance of the cable. This type of cable is called Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) when the additional jacket is used, and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable when no additional jacket is used. 

 

There are custom STP types for Cat6 cables, but common Cat6 cables are usually UTP types. The additional shielding of the Cat6A cable improves cable reliability and immunity from heavy electromagnetic interference (EMI). STP cables are rarely needed in small businesses or home offices, and UTP cables are usually used in strong electromagnetic interference environments such as industrial production. 

 

Conclusion

 

This article describes the Cat6 and Cat6A specifications and differences between Cat6 vs Cat6A  so that we can understand how to choose the right cable solution. Cat6A solutions can be chosen to meet the needs of future network development. Cat6a has higher bandwidth, a 100m transmission distance, and a 10Gbps rate, but the Cat6A cable price is not too high to accept. Cat6A cabling can be used for building automation, CCTV, access control, and other applications. If you want to get more information about CAT6 and Cat6A cables, please contact QSFPTEK via sales@qsfptek.com. We can provide free cabling designing or consulting services.

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