Why Category 6A is the best tech deal around: Industry opinion

By Ronna Davis, CommScope

I’m a proud bargain shopper. I love nothing more than getting a great product or service for a great price. I may put more effort into bargain hunting than most, but I believe most people appreciate a good deal. My extensive shopping experience tells me that Category 6A cabling is the best technology bargain available today.

Often my teammates and I are asked by clients about the cost difference between Category 6 and 6A cabling. While pricing discussions can be uncomfortable for everyone involved, I enjoy having this discussion. There’s not many instances where you get so much more capability with so little additional investment than upgrading from Category 6 to 6A for your network.

The upgrade costs vary from 10 to 20 percent depending on network architectures and your local labor markets. That’s not to suggest 10 to 20 percent isn’t a significant budget consideration -- it is. However, it’s important to remember that it’s an additional 10 to 20 percent on approximately 5 percent of your overall IT budget.

That’s right. While the performance of all your IT systems is highly dependent on the performance of your structured cabling system, it makes up a relatively small part of your IT budget. Your structured cabling system is typically expected to last through 2-3 technology refreshes. If it doesn’t last, it will have negative implications on your IT budget. And nobody wants to consider the cost and disruption of a refresh if the cabling has been under specified.

So, what do you really get for your additional investment in Category 6A?

  1. Ten times the network speed of Category 6 and twice the bandwidth.
  2. Best support for NBASE-T Multi-Gig applications.
  3. Improved thermal performance for Power over Ethernet (PoE)
    • Four-pair PoE will be close to 100 watts.
    • The clear advantages of a single medium for power and data are proliferating development of PoE powered devices.
  4. Peace of mind that 5 percent of your IT budget won’t keep you from successfully executing the other 95 percent.
    • From high bandwidth wireless applications to augmented reality and artificial intelligence, the applications exist today that need more than 1G.
    • According to the 2018 Future Enterprise survey from Seyfarth Shaw, LLP., “62 percent of business leaders believe Automation and AI will have the biggest impact on their business operations and processes in the next 5 years, and 42 percent of leaders say that adoption of new technologies is their greatest near-term management challenge.” Automation and artificial intelligence requires data, a lot of it, from sensors and devices and systems throughout your enterprise.
  5. Compliance to the many cabling standards that strongly recommend Category 6A for new builds, such as TIA TSB 162 (Wi-Fi), TSB 184-A (PoE), TIA 1179 (Healthcare) and TIA 4966 (Education), to name a few.

I have yet to find a bargain that matches that of upgrading from Category 6 to 6A. It’s literally 1,000 percent more performance for 10 to 20 percent more cost. It’s the network equivalent of getting a Tesla Model S P90D that goes 0-60 in under 3 seconds for only 20 percent more cost than the 2012 Mia Electric Car that goes 0-60 in 30 seconds. The Mia retailed for approximately $17,000 USD in 2012. Could you pass up the Tesla for $20,400? Precisely.

That’s why Category 6A is the best technology bargain available today.  

Happy bargain hunting! 

Learn more about Black Box structured cabling services and partnershere.

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Ronna Davis is a global enterprise ecosystem leader for CommScope based in Nevada. She has been with CommScope for 11 years. In addition to her current role, Davis has held positions on CommScope's field sales team and in the company's global partner organization.
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