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Category 6
Category 6 cable, commonly referred to as Cat 6, is a standardized twisted pair cable for Gigabit Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards.[1] Compared with Cat 5 and Cat 5e, Cat 6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise.[1] The cable standard provides performance of up to 250 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000BASE-T/1000BASE-TX (Gigabit Ethernet), and 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet).

Category 6A

The latest standard from the TIA for enhanced performance standards for twisted pair cable systems was defined in February 2009 in ANSI/TIA-568-C.1. Category 6A is defined at frequencies up to 500 MHz—twice that of Cat 6.

Category 6A performs at improved specifications, in particular in the area of alien crosstalk as compared to Cat 6 UTP (unshielded twisted pair), which exhibited high alien noise in high frequencies.

The global cabling standard ISO/IEC 11801 has been extended by the addition of amendment 2. This amendment defines new specifications for Cat 6A components and Class EA permanent links. These new global Cat 6A/Class EA specifications require a new generation of connecting hardware offering far superior performance compared to the existing products that are based on the American TIA standard.

The most important point is a performance difference between ISO/IEC and EIA/TIA component specifications for the NEXT transmission parameter. At a frequency of 500 MHz, an ISO/IEC Cat 6A connector performs 3 dB better than a Cat 6A connector that conforms with the EIA/TIA specification. 3 dB equals 50% reduction of near-end crosstalk noise signal power; see 3dB-point.
Confusion therefore arises because of the different naming conventions and performance benchmarks laid down by the International ISO/IEC and American TIA/EIA standards, which in turn are different from the regional European standard, EN 50173-1. In broad terms, the ISO standard for Cat 6A is the highest, followed by the European standard, and then the American (1 on 1 matching capability).

ParameterCat6Cat6a
Speed10 Gbps over 33-55 meters (110-165 feet) of cable10 Gbps over 100 meters (330 feet) of cable
FrequencyUp to 250 MHzUp to 500 MHz
Maximum cable length100 meters for slower network speeds (up to 1,000 Mbps) and higher network speeds over short distances. For Gigabit Ethernet, 55 meters max, with 33 meters in high crosstalk conditions.100 meters across all systems and conditions for Gigabit Ethernet.
CostVaries by length and manufacturer, with $0.40 – $0.60 per foot as an average; generally about 20% higher than Cat5e.Varies by length and manufacturer, with $0.55 – $0.85 per foot as an average; generally about 20-35% higher than Cat6.
Standard gauges in conductors22-24 AWG wire16-20 AWG wire

 

In summary

  • CAT6a is the improved version of the CAT6 cable
  • CAT6a is rated for up to 10Gigabits while CAT6 is only rated for 1Gigabit
  • CAT6a has twice the bandwidth of CAT6 cables
  • CAT6a is better at resisting alien crosstalk compared to CAT6
  • CAT6a cables are much thicker compared to CAT6
  • CAT6a costs a lot more compared to CAT6
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