Cat6A Shielded vs NonShielded: How to Make the Right Choice?

Cat6a cables: an inexpensive solution for 10G cabling. Its design is according to the upgraded design of Cat6 cable. They are capable of supporting data transfer rates up to 10 Gbps at a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz.

With the ever-emerging applications and industrial demands, it is a recommended standard for most of the production units. Moreover, they are backward compatible with Cat6 and Cat5e.

However, the debate about choosing Cat6a shielded vs unshielded is a dilemma for many users. It is important to understand the difference between them along with the pros and cons. Let’s discuss that in detail.

The main thing to consider while installing Cat6a cables is that they are future-proof network products. If you are planning to get a new cabling system, consider Cat6a as the first option. Even if planned for ten years or more, Cat6a definitely appears to be the best solution.

Considering the Cat6a components in a 10Gbps, class EA network, here’s why they are considered the best solution:

  • CAT6A is the best option for Healthcare.
  • CAT6A is considered to be the best option for Education.
  • It provides improved performance for Power over Ethernet (PoE).
  • They support wireless systems which are reliable on 10Gig.

Understanding The Difference: Shielded Vs NonShielded

Both shielded and unshielded cables differ in design and making. They are chosen on the basis on the industry requirement, connectivity of electronic equipment, etc.

Cat6a Shielded Cable

Cat6a shielded twisted pair (STP) has shielded cables to prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI) that affects the cable performance. They prevent the cable signals from interfering with cables in the surrounding area. These cables contain a special ground wire - drain wire. And one of the best practice for shielded cables is to ground them at both the ends.

For high-speed 10G networks, they are an ideal choice. If you install them properly, they automatically curb EMI and crosstalk which ensures the integrity of data and high-speed performance.

Cat6a Unshielded Cable

Cat6a unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables do not have shielding but are twisted into 4 sets of pairs. Each bare copper conductor is color coded. Each of the bundle of Cat6a unshielded cable should be under an overall jacket such as PVC, and each pair of cable has a different twist rate in order to minimize crosstalk within the cable. This standard is most common in the market as they are less expensive than the shielded cables. Plus, they are simple to install as there is no shielding or drain wire involved. Although they are less effective to handle EMI, they are larger in size which requires more space for accommodating them.

Famous Acronyms Of Cat6a Cable Shielding

There are many acronyms describes Cat6 shielded and unshielded cables. Here we are with the basic information about each type of acronym used to clear up the confusion. Although there are many of them used synonymously.

  • TP = Twisted Pair
  • U = Unshielded
  • F = Foil Shield
  • S= Braided Shield

If we consider the ISO/IEC standards, the first letter indicates the type of overall shield while the next part of the acronym indicates the type of shielding on each pair. For instance, F/UTP, “F” indicates the shielding type, “U” describes the shielding pairs, “TP” describes the twisted pairs. The code before the slash symbol describes the overall shielding. The second letter after the slash indicates the shielding of each pair.

After knowing them thoroughly let’s see how you can choose the right cable:

  • Consider the Cost: Cat6a shielding cable is expensive compared to unshielded.
  • Installation: Installation of unshielded cables is easy than the shielded one.
  • Environment: Unshielded cables are environment-friendly.

Unshielded cables actually provide faster data speed in the absence of EMI. They are less expensive to make a purchase, easy to install and been there in many existing installations for years.


Another important factor to consider while choosing between Cat6a shielded vs unshielded network ethernet cables battle is to analyze how EMI would play the role while installation. EMI can be caused by nearby motors, generators, air conditioners, offices such as light and print shops, etc. They can cause crosstalks between circuits which affect the performance and result in degradation of data, slow data speed, and errors.

So, if your area experiences heavy electromagnetic interference, Cat6a shielded cable could be the best fit for your area. Because shielding boosts the reliability and blocks out the interference. If you want these cables for the average home office or as a small business owner, you can consider buying unshielded network ethernet cables.


Overall the choice is fully based on your requirements, budget, and usage. Make sure you install high-quality cat6a cables to expect a longer life from your cable installation. It will eventually reduce long-term replacement and manpower costs.

SF cables offer a wide range of options to build your Cat6a network. We provide products which offer high-speed performance. For more information, you can visit our web store here.

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