CAT6A Cabling Explained
CAT6A cabling is a 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE) over copper standard. The “A” stands for “augmented” and indicates the enhanced performance of this cable compared to previous versions, such as CAT6.
CAT6 vs CAT6A
CAT6A Ethernet cable offers 10 times the network speed of CAT6 and twice the bandwidth. In fact, it has enough bandwidth to accommodate automation and artificial intelligence systems, which are becoming increasingly common in manufacturing and other sectors. CAT6A cabling is the best support 10 Gbps Ethernet runs at full 100 meters as well as for NBASE-T multi-gig applications. It also offers improved thermal properties for Power over Ethernet (four-pair PoE is close to 100 watts).
CAT6A Ethernet cable extends electrical specifications from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. It also features Power-Sum Alien Crosstalk (PS-ANEXT) to 500 MHz. Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT) which is now concerned with crosstalk outside the cabling jacket.
Types of CAT6A Cable
There are two types of CAT6A Ethernet cable: UTP and F/UTP. CAT6A UTP cable is significantly larger than CAT6 cable. It features larger copper conductors, usually 23 AWG with thicker cable jacket with minimize ANEXT. The outside diameter of CAT6A cabling averages 0.29–0.35" compared to 0.21–0.24" for CAT6 cable. This reduces the number of cables you can fit in a conduit. At a 40% fill ratio, for example, you can run three CAT6A cables in a 3/4" conduit vs. five CAT6 cables.
CAT6A F/UTP virtually eliminates the problem of ANEXT. The F indicates an outer overall foil shield that surrounds the four twisted pairs which eliminates any external alien crosstalk. When CAT 6A cable is shielded it tends to have a smaller cable diameter, whereas CAT 6A UTP un-shielded cable which tends to have a larger cable diameter to better create more of a distance between cabling bundled runs to eliminate against any external alien crosstalk.
CAT6A Cable Specifications
Many cabling standards recommend CAT6A Ethernet cable for new builds, including TIA TSB 162 (for Wi-Fi), TSB 184-A (for PoE), TIA 1179 (for healthcare) and TIA 4966 (for education). CAT6A cable specification is also covered in ANSI/TIA-568-C.2 (Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunications Cabling and Components Standard) published in August 2009. The standard defines 10-Gigabit data transmission over a 4-connector twisted-pair copper cable for a distance of 100 meters on CAT6A copper cabling. This ensures that the system is ready to support IEEE 802.3an, the IEEE standard for 10GBASE-T.
CAT6A Ethernet cable is good choice for high bandwidth wireless, augmented reality, artificial intelligence or any other applications that require more than 1-gigabit Ethernet speeds. CAT6A cable is backwards compatible with CAT6 and CAT5E.
Where to Find CAT6A Cables
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