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Cat6 vs. Cat6a: Which to Choose ?

You want to have a computer network cabling installed in your company’s building, and you’ve opted for copper cabling. However, to make the right choice according to your high-speed internet needs, you’re now asking yourself what the difference is between ethernet CAT6 vs. CAT6a cables. To make an informed decision, read the following article!

How are cables categorized?

Cable categories are determined according to the frequencies (expressed in hertz) at which they can transmit signals. For example, a category 5 (cat5) cable cannot exceed 100 MHz, while a cat6 cable can reach 250 MHz.

For their part, the letters A to F indicate the types of links that the frequency bands can allow. Cat6 cables belong to the E class; cat6a cables are part of the Ea class. In other words, CAT6a is an enhanced cat6.

How is the cat6a enhanced compared to the cat6?

The main difference between cat6 vs. cat6a cables relates to frequencies and link lengths:

  • Frequency: The cat6a can transmit a signal up to 500 MHz, compared to the 250 mentioned earlier in the category 6a (cat6a).
  • Link length: cat6 and cat6a cables can both reach 10 gigabits per second of data transmitted. However, cat6a cables support this speed over a distance of 100 meters, while cat6 only supports it over 55 meters.

Furthermore, CAT6a cables have a stronger coating, which reduces foreign crosstalk, or the interference caused by neighbouring cables. Overall, therefore, these cables offer better performance (faster speeds) than the cat6.

Is the CAT6a necessarily the best solution for you?

To determine which Ethernet cable is right for your company, you need to take different factors into account, including:

  • Network equipment:  If this can’t support a speed of 10 gigabits per second and you don’t plan to replace it to switch to a higher speed, the more expensive CAT6a cabling won’t be beneficial. However, these types of cables are recommended for Wi-Fi 6 technology, as well as in new installations.
  • Longevity: If you plan to use the same cables for more than 5 years, it’s best to choose cat6a.
  • Use: cat6a cables can have other uses besides data and voice transmission. For example, if you want to use smart lighting or 8K surveillance cameras, cat6a is ideal, because it has higher power supply capacities via Ethernet cable. In other words, it lets you power devices that require more electrical power.

Generally speaking, cat6 cables are sufficient for a corporate network. Cat6a cables are often used for data centres or large intercompany networks, for example.

For a quality cable network, trust ited

ited has been offering turnkey structured cable system installation services for over 20 years. Thanks to this experience, our qualified team can install your computer network properly, thereby ensuring flawless performance. Contact us to learn more.

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