CAT6a is the newest type of Ethernet cabling that you can install for your network. It is an improved version of the CAT6 cabling and offers better performance. Cabling is a little bit more complicated as their capacities are also a function of the length that is used. CAT6 cables are rated at 1Gbps while CAT6a cables can achieve up to 10Gbps.It is able to achieve this because it operates at 500Mhz; twice that of the 250Mhz operation of the CAT6 cables. CAT6 cables may be able to achieve 10Gbps but only in when short lengths of cable are used.
CAT6a cables are also stricter when it comes to shielding and protection against alien crosstalk. Crosstalk occurs when the signal from one cable leaks into another. This can distort the signal through the introduction of noise and force the network devices to work at a slower speed. Because of this, CAT6a cables would work better in situations where it is to be bundled with a lot of other cables.
Another identifying characteristic of the CAT6a cable
is its thickness. CAT6 looks just like the CAT5 and CAT5e cables that preceded it. CAT6 cable manufacturers had to come up with ways to conform to the stricter alien crosstalk shielding, thereby making it thicker with others adopting odd shapes.
As always, the most prohibitive reason to implementing a system that fully utilizes CAT6a cables is the cost. CAT6a cables alone cost more than double that of CAT6 cables, not to mention the cost of the equipment that works at 10Gbps. CAT6, and even CAT5 or CAT5e
, cables are still practical for the basic day to day networking. As it is expected that 10Gbps connections would become standard and affordable in about five to ten years, it may be worth it to invest in the pricier CAT6a cabling when wiring up a house or any structure that is under construction. Doing so saves you from having to gut your walls again once CAT6 cables are no longer sufficient for your needs and you need to upgrade.
1. CAT6a is the improved version of the CAT6 cable
2. CAT6a is rated for up to 10Gigabits while CAT6 is only rated for 1Gigabit
3. CAT6a has twice the bandwidth of CAT6 cables
4. CAT6a is better at resisting alien crosstalk compared to CAT6
5. CAT6a cables are much thicker compared to CAT6
6.CAT6a costs a lot more compared to CAT6
Is It Worth Upgrading?
It is possible to run a busy home or small office network with Cat5e cables. However, greater bandwidth provides more potential resources for processing needs. Cat6 and Cat6a cables might provide bandwidth beyond that currently needed by residential and small business customers, but the trend in technology is towards greater use of bandwidth, so the investment in higher-grade cables is not a bad idea.
In small home or business offices where many cables might be in close proximity to one another, the Cat6a is likely to outperform the Cat6 when it comes to alien crosstalk — specifically, interference from nearby cables. Cat6 cables, particularly unshielded varieties, are much more prone to alien crosstalk than Cat6a, which uses superior insulation to protect its wiring.