Cat 6 & Cat 6A Cables - How Are They Different?

When it comes to Ethernet Cables, the most commonly asked question is, “What is the difference between CAT6 ethernet cables and CAT6A ethernet cables?” It is not just the letter ‘a’ that sets them apart. At first, only CAT6 was used for networking purposes. As 6A came in, people started upgrading and switching to CAT 6A. So what are the basic differences between these two and how can you tell the difference between them? Read further to know.

Telling them apart

A very apparent way to identify the difference between them is to read their names on the cable jacket itself. They both have their names imprinted on the cable jacket when you buy them. One more difference between them is that CAT6A cables are thicker as compared to Cat 6 cables. Both are available in several colours.

 

Shielded vs. Unshielded

One more small difference between these two is their insulation. Ethernet cable is usually surrounded by thin jackets to protect the inner twisted pair of wires. These jackets are a reason why we identify the Ethernet cables as Shielded Twisted Pair (STP). The cables without these jackets are known as unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables. Although you can buy shielded Cat6 cables, there are more chances that you will find unshielded ones. On the other hand, all of Cat6A cables are shielded. Shielded cable stops the interference caused due to the heavy electromagnetic interference (EMI). Shielded cables are mostly needed for industrial surroundings and unshielded ones can be used at home or offices.

Performance

Even though Cat6A doesn’t push up the speed of data transmission, it has the capacity to transmit upto 10 Gbps. It doubles up the frequency of data transmission from 250 MHZ to 500 MHZ. This also enables remote data transmission. Cat6A can make this possible if its twisted wire pairs are twisted around a plastic support.

Wiring

CAT6A cable is manufactured by using 4 to 10 pairs of tightly twisted copper wires. It is possible to transmit data by using these wires. However, cable length and interference might become a hindrance. If the pair is very tightly woven, it can resolve such problems. Cat6 cable is manufactured using precise standards unlike its previous versions. The intent behind manufacturing them was to provide the speed of 10 gigabytes per second. Hence, the difference between CAT6 and CAT6A cable is wiring.

Costs

As compared to CAT5E cables, Cat6 and 6A cables are more expensive. There is a 20 to 35% cost difference between Cat6 and 6A cables.


So now you know the difference between the two. It is better to install CAT6A cable when there are more chances of alien crosstalk or interferences as they are shielded. You can decide which Ethernet cable out of the two would suit you depending on the surroundings where you intend to use it.

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