Cat6a cables belong to the 6th category or generation of the ethernet cables. Various types of Cat6 cables available in the markets are Cat6a Plenum Cable, Cat6a Riser Cable, and Cat6a PVC cable. Let’s dive a bit deeper into specifications.
The Cat in the Cat6a stands for category whereas 6 refers to the generation; a refers to augmented.
Data Transfer Rates of Cat6a Cable
High-speed applications can benefit from Cat6a ethernet cable’s lightning-fast data transfer rates. It renders a data transfer speed of 10 Gbps when the length is up to 100 meters or 328 feet.
The cable has a bandwidth capacity that ranges from 550 MHz to 750 MHz (depending on the manufacturer). With this enhanced bandwidth, the signal quality remains intact and you enjoy uninterrupted connectivity.
Cat6a Cable Plenum
The plenum variant of the Cat6a cable carries a top-rated CMP jacket. This CMP jacket has fire retardant properties and halts fire progression. The plenum variant– during the burning phase — emits no toxicity such as smoke or any other perilous gases. The CMP jacket is UV-resistant too, therefore, you can use this cable in riser and outdoor spaces. However, you are not authorized to run riser or PVC-rated ethernet cables in plenum spaces because of safety concerns.
As far as data rates and bandwidth of Cat6a plenum cable are concerned, they stand at 10 Gbps and 750 MHz, respectively.
The riser variant of the Cat6a ethernet cable carries a CRM-rated outer jacket that comes with fire-resistant and UV-resistant features. As the name suggests, riser variant of the Cat6a Cable is specifically designed to be run in vertical or riser spaces of the buildings. These cables — when coming into contact with blaze — halt fire progression and emit very low smoke and no dangerous gases.
The data transfer rates and bandwidth capacity of this cable stand at 10 Gbps and 750 MHz respectively.
The PVC variant of the sixth generation augmented cable is meant to support outdoor installations. The PVC-rated outer jacket is sunlight resistant and the thickness is meant to provide protection against extreme weather conditions.
The data transfer rates and bandwidth capacity of PVC Cat6 stand at 10 Gbps and 750 MHz respectively.
Cat6a Cable Conductors
The Cat6a cable comes in two types of conductors: pure copper and copper-clad aluminum.
Pure copper conductors are far superior to copper-clad aluminum because they provide excellent performance in every aspect. When it comes to attenuation or loss of signal strength, pure copper cables suffer from less attenuation whereas copper-clad aluminum cables suffer from more attenuation. Likewise, pure copper cables convert more energy into signals and less into heat whereas copper-clad aluminum cables do exactly the opposite.
Cat6a Cable: Shielded vs Unshielded
To keep conductors safe from elements that mess with signals such as crosstalk and electromagnetic interference, some manufacturers add another layer of protection either around individual twisted pairs or all 4 twisted pairs combined. Such twisted pairs of ethernet cables are classified as Shielded Twisted Pair cables. Those ethernet cables that do not have any other extra layer of protection are called unshielded twisted pair cables. STP is meant for harsh environments and is much more expensive than the UTP cables that are meant for normal environments.
Besides Cat6a Plenum, riser, and Cat6a PVC cable, there is another type of Cat6a cable and it is called direct burial Cat6a cable.
The direct burial Cat6a cable has an LLDPE-rated jacket and its core is filled with gel. These two features make these cables completely waterproof and immune to damage by microorganisms and other bio-organisms. As far as data rates of LLDPE-rated ethernet cables are concerned, they stand at the same, i-e a data transfer rate of 10 Gbps and a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz.
Usually, the Cat6a cable meets the following standards:
Also, Cat6a cables have to be RoHS compliant. As far as safety standards are concerned, the Cat6a cable is available with ETL-Listed certifications and UL-Listed certifications. Ethernet cables like ETL-Listed riser cables are completely safe for installation as they meet stringent safety requirements. As far as the price is concerned, it depends on various factors like jacket types, STP or UTP conductors, and certifications.