In the world of high-speed network communication, Cat6a is a new breed of Ethernet cabling. While Cat6 Solid Copper cable may be more popular in networking today due to its lower price point when compared with Cat6a, it lacks the bandwidth and distance capabilities that Cat6a provides.
So what’s the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a and why does it matter? Keep reading to learn about Cat6, Cat6a, plenum-rated cabling, the limitations of Cat6, and how much speed can you expect from your network when using either type of cabling.
4 Key Differences: –
If you are in the market for Ethernet cabling at your business or home, you’ve probably seen the term “Cat6a” and “Cat6”. While there are several differences between Cat6a and Cat6, we will focus on four key differences:
- Speed & Bandwidth,
- Distance capabilities,
- Installation protocols,
- Cost & Support.
First, let’s take a closer look at what makes each type of Ethernet cable different.
Speed & Bandwidth: –
Both Cat6a and Cat6 are available in pure copper or with an additional layer of shielding for superior resistance to noise interference. The speeds for Ethernet cables are based on the type of cable as well as the frequency they use to transmit data. Cat6 bare copper cabling provides a maximum bandwidth of 10Gbps.
Cat6a, on the other hand, is capable of transmitting up to 17Gbps and works at frequencies up to 500 MHz (twice that of Cat6). To put that into perspective, Cat6a is capable of transferring data at 10 times the rate of standard Cat5e and 100 times faster than standard Cat5 cabling.
Distance Capabilities: –
Related to bandwidth capabilities is the distance these cables can be run. Cat6 cable has a maximum length of 100 meters or 328 feet. Cat6a cables have a maximum length of 100 meters or 328 feet. Because Cat6a Plenum 1000ft cables have twice the bandwidth capabilities as compared to Cat6, you can run them twice as far.
These factors make it possible to install a cable 200 meters long between two networking devices with Cat6 but only 100 meters long with Cat6a. While these differences sound important, they only tell part of the story.
Installation Protocols: –
The biggest difference between Cat6 solid copper and Cat6a is in how installation protocols differ. It can affect your network performance as well as its stability. There are several types of “pairs” within a single Cat6 cable consisting of individual copper wire strands that are twisted around each other.
These pairs consist of four different wires: one for transmitting data and the other for receiving; however, only two of the four wires (the “tip”) actually transmit data while the other two (the “ring”) act as a ground, or return.
Cat6a differs from Cat6 in the number of twists per foot. It is less susceptible to noise interference caused by unshielded cabling. During installation, it is important that you maintain the twist rate. Each tip and ring wire pair maintains a specific distance apart from each other at all times.
If this distance is compromised during installation, you can cause data errors on your network. This is why Cat6a cables are not as popular as Cat6 bare copper cables, despite the fact that Cat6a has higher bandwidth and longer distances.
Installing a regular Cat6 cable requires trained technicians to ensure the cabling is installed correctly to prevent errors. Cat6a cables are designed for experienced network technicians who understand how to install cabling. They maintain their bandwidth capabilities at all times.
Cost & Support: –
Keeping the above installation protocol differences in mind, let’s compare Cat6 VS Cat6a cost. While prices are constantly changing, Cat6a typically costs anywhere from $200 to $600 per 1000 feet. Whereas Cat6 typically costs $100 to $300 per 1000 feet.
There is also a factor of whether you’re installing plenum cabling. It is specially shielded for placement within the walls and ceilings of commercial buildings. Plenum cabling is required by building codes because combustible materials are typically located within the walls and ceilings of buildings.
Prices for Cat6a plenum cables can be twice that of standard Cat6a. If you are having a new building built then it’s often much easier to specify already wired cable.
Installing already wired cables is much less expensive than installing individual wires and outlets at each workstation. The price difference between Cat6a and Cat6 will likely continue to narrow as more businesses require faster, higher bandwidth networking speeds.
Comparison of Key Features: –
However, the key thing to remember when comparing Cat6 VS Cat6a cabling is that Cat6a is better suited for advanced networking installations requiring bandwidth, distance, and network stability. Cat6 solid copper cable can often suffice as long as you install it correctly to maintain the required distance between the four wires within each pair.
If you’re a beginner looking to learn about Ethernet cable installation. It is best to first learn about Cat6 VS Cat6a before making any major decisions. If you already know the basics of networking and how to install cables. Then it’s simply a matter of contacting your networking equipment provider for details on which type of cable is best suited for your needs.
This article covers the differences between Cat6 and Cat6a. It explains why Cat6a is preferred for higher bandwidth and better network stability. It then describes the difference between installation protocols. They can affect your cabling and points out that Cat6 cables are less expensive than Cat6a because they require less specialized installation.
Finally, it’s important to note that if you are installing cabling within a new building. It may be less expensive to go with an already wired cable. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing network Cat6a offers better bandwidth and stability than Cat6.
Why WhizCables: –
A reliable and trustworthy supplier of these cables is also an important part of their buying. In the USA, you will many manufacturers and suppliers of these Ethernet cables, and WhizCables is one of them. We deliver quality products to our customers at very reasonable prices. Our free shipping policy also supports the customers.
Our Cat6 Solid Copper Ethernet cable is highly in demand from customers due to its extreme performance and quality.