Ah, the wonderful world of Ethernet!
While most Wi-Fi installers are extremely familiar with CAT5E and CAT6 cables, we’ve often heard clients and other industry professionals ask:
“What’s the big deal with CAT6A?” and “Why should I upgrade?”
With emerging technologies, and increasing demands, it’s important to keep up. That’s why, in this article, we’re digging in to everything you need to know about high-performance Ethernet cables, the difference between CAT6 and the new and improved CAT6A, and more.
What is a CAT6A Ethernet cable?
A category 6A cable is a recent iteration of gigabit ethernet cabling. The “A” in 6A stands for augmented, symbolizing that CAT6A is improved version of the previous CAT6.
What’s the difference between CAT6 and CAT6A cables?
- Offers a 10Gbps rating for 30 to 50 metres
- Capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps at a maximum bandwidth of 250MHz
- CAT6 is more expensive than CAT5E, but less expensive than CAT6A
- 22-24 AWG wire gauges
Identifying CAT6: Thinner, less bulky, identity printed on cable jacket.
- Offers a 10Gbps rating for over 100 metres or 330 feet
- Capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps at a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz
- CAT6A is more expensive than CAT6, but is also more advanced
- 16-20 AWG wire gauges
Identifying CAT6A: Thicker, bulkier, identity printed on cable jacket.
Why is CAT6A the best choice for Wi-Fi cables?
1. Increased Bandwidth
CAT6A supports bandwidth that is twice the amount of CAT6. Longer cables with faster speed provides more flexibility and better performance.
2. Backwards Compatibility
CAT6A is backwards compatible with both CAT6 and CAT5E. However, it is important to note that when utilizing backwards compatibility, speeds will become limited.
3. Built For Industrial Use
CAT6A is thick and strong, making it the ideal solution for tough industrial environments.
4. Reduced Crosstalk
CAT6A features tighter twists and more insulation than the CAT6. Therefore, the CAT6A is able to reduce unwanted crosstalk with a higher degree of efficacy.
5. Cost Effective
CAT6A is considered one of the most cost-effective solutions as it is being developed and designed with forward thinking. Equipped to support future demands, those installing CAT6A are ahead of the curve.
CAT6A is also said to perform similarly to CAT7, but is offered at a lower price point.
What are the cons of CAT6A?
While some perceive the size and weight of the CAT6A cable as a disadvantage, we at CORE Cabling believe that this in no way outweighs the benefits.
Others may also cite termination methods as a con of CAT6A, however, new advancements in technology have reduced termination and installation time.