CAT6A: Augmented Category 6

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CAT6A: is a 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE) over copper standard. Its requirements are 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, which specifies using Class E-augmented cable.

CAT6A extends electrical specifications from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. It also features Power-Sum Alien Crosstalk (PS-ANEXT) to 500 MHz. Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT) is a coupled signal in a disturbed pair arising from a signal in a neighboring cable.

There are two types of CAT6A cable, UTP and F/UTP. CAT6A UTP cable is significantly larger than CAT6 cable. It features larger conductors, usually 22 AWG, and is designed with more space between the pairs to minimize ANEXT. The outside diameter of CAT6A cable 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, you can run three CAT6A cables in a 3/4" conduit vs. five CAT6 cables.

To virtually eliminate the problem of ANEXT, CAT6A F/UTP cable is used. The F indicates an outer foil shield that eliminates PS-ANEXT. When security is an issue, CAT6a is a good choice because it doesn’t emit signals. In addition, CAT6A F/UTP cable works well in noisy environments with a lot of EMI.

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