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CAT6A network cable-the basis of integrated cabling in 5G era

The birth of CAT6A

In September 2006, the IEEE Standards Committee formally issued the application standard of 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBASE-T for network transmission in IEEE802.3an. 

To meet the requirements of 10 Gigabit Ethernet applications, major cabling standardization organizations (such as International Standardization ISO11801, TIA568B of the United States) issued a new cabling system standard for 10 Gigabit Ethernet applications in 2008. Namely, Cat.6A cabling standard. 

It is mainly used in 10 Gigabit networks. The transmission frequency is 500MHz, the maximum transmission speed can also reach 10Gbps, and the external crosstalk is greatly improved. 

Compared with CAT6, CAT6A has a larger outer diameter, heavier mass, and larger minimum bending radius, and the maximum transmission distance of CAT6A is 100m, which is compatible with CAT6 and CAT5 simultaneously.

There are two kinds of super six types of cables: FTP (shielded) and UTP (shielded). There are obvious differences between them in structure.

What is the biggest difference between CAT6 and CAT6A cables?

The biggest difference between CAT6 lines and CAT6A lines is external crosstalk. The maximum transmission frequency of CAT6 lines is 250MHz. The maximum transmission frequency of CAT6A lines is 500MHz. In lower-frequency transmission, the effect of external crosstalk can be ignored. However, the influence of external crosstalk in high-frequency information is severe. Therefore, using an unshielded Cat.6A twisted pair system to transmit 10 gigabits needs to consider the problem of external crosstalk, while using a shielded Cat.6A twisted pair system to transmit 10 Gigabit, there is almost no need to consider the issue of external crosstalk (grounding at both ends of the shield). The feeling is completely different, like two cars and two high-speed rail cars; this embodies external interference.

difference between CAT6 and CAT6A cables

Application scenarios of CAT6A

The 6A system is deployed in applications requiring high-power Type3 (60W or above) and high-speed (2.5G~10G multi-gigabit) transmission.

For example:

  • High-speed cameras,
  • WiFi5, WiFi6,
  • HDBase-T,
  • Landscape lights,
  • HD video,
  • Video conferencing

The rapid integration of CAT6A can not be separated from the increasing transmission rate and the rapidly developing diversified demand for weak current. We can subdivide the application support and application scenarios into the following categories:

1. Standard support for horizontal links

At present, almost all TIA standards recommend the use of CAT6 network cables in the horizontal link of building cabling. Referring to the latest cabling standards, we need help finding the recommendation for super CAT5 and CAT6 systems in horizontal and regional cabling.

— ISO/IEC and TIA should or recommend more than six types of systems for data centers and newly installed projects:

— ClassEA cabling system should be adopted: ISO/IEC 11801-5 data center; ISO/IEC 11801-6 distributed building service.

–It is recommended to support 10GBASE-T and new installation projects using ClassEA cabling system: ISO/IEC 11801-1 generic; ISO/IEC 11801-2 office environment.

— Cat.6A wiring system: TIA-1179-A Healthcare should be adopted.

–Recommended Cat.6A cabling system: TIA-942-B data center; TIA-568.1-D commercial building; TSB-162-A wireless LAN.

–It is recommended that the new installation project adopt cat.6A wiring system: TIA-4966 educational institutions; TIA-862-B intelligent buildings. The domestic standard GB50174-2017 stipulates that CAT6A or more twisted pair cables (including class 6A connectors) should be used for horizontal subsystems that undertake data services.

2. Better choice of POE power supply

A network cable can supply power and transmit signals, which is the basic capability of POE power supply technology. It is widely used in monitoring, WiFi, intelligent lighting, smart home, and other industries. With the development of POE technology, the requirements of network cables for transmission tasks are getting higher and higher.

The IEEE 802.3bt standard was approved by the IEEE-SA Standards Committee on September 27th, 2018, to transmit more power over Ethernet links, providing power ratings of up to 71.3W to powered equipment (PD). 90W comes from power supply equipment (PSE), which means that POE power supply will make network cables more important in the Internet era of everything.

We are no strangers to POE power supply, but what deserves our attention is the heat dissipation of POE harnesses. The newly released TSB-184-A balanced twisted pair wiring support Power output Guide in TIA 568.2 TSB-184-A D standard stipulates that for a POE system with a power of 100 watts, the temperature rise should be controlled at no more than 15 degrees Celsius.

On the other hand, the larger wire gauge size makes the heat dissipation capacity of super-CAT6 wires better than that of CAT5 and CAT6 wires.

Therefore, for more stringent temperature control requirements, the standard stipulates that the number of ultra-six unshielded twisted pair wires allowed in the harness is more than 25% of category 6 twisted pair and 70% more than that of CAT5E twisted pair.

of wires
Temperature rise(℃)Electric current(mA)

3. Regulation of data center cabling system

Generally speaking, the cost of building a data center is high, especially for large and super-large data centers.

In this era of rapid information expansion, the data center’s role is more prominent and significant.

The work efficiency of the hardware equipment and software system in the data center computer room directly affects the work efficiency of the data center.

The EA level (Class 6A) is already the minimum standard for copper wiring systems in the ISO/IEC 11801-5 Group 2017 standard (data center).

According to the newly published data center design specification, GB 50174 stipulates that “the backbone and horizontal subsystems that undertake data services should adopt 6A or more twisted pair cables”. Therefore, the importance of the Cat.6A cabling system for data centers is self-evident.

4. Requirements of 5G indoor small base stations

With the increase in the types of 5G services, the higher requirements of indoor services will adopt greater transmission and penetration loss and denser networking. The construction of small indoor base stations will be the inevitable 5G indoor scene construction trend.

5G technology has the characteristics of an ultra-high peak rate of 10Gbps, ultra-low latency to 1ms, and millions of access per square kilometer, so it is imperative to build a link with such a large bandwidth and large-scale connection, and the Cat.6A cabling system can fully meet the cabling requirements of 5G small base stations.

Requirements of 5G indoor small base stations

5. The Development of WiFi Technology

On September 16, 2019, the WiFi Alliance announced the launch of the WiFi 6 certification program, which aims to bring devices using next-generation 802.11ax WiFi wireless communication technology up to established standards.

Compared with the previous generation of WiFi 5 standards, WiFi 6 has faster transmission efficiency, and WiFi 6 uses OFDMA technology with the same origin as 5G.

Notebook computers, smartphones, tablets, and other products launched in the second half of 2019 have all been equipped with WiFi6 wireless network cards. The WiFi6 era has come. To effectively support the transmission needs of WIFI6, the Cat.6A cabling system will replace Cat.6 cabling system to become the best choice for WiFi copper cabling in the next few years.

The Development of WiFi Technology

The application of CAT6A

The shielding application mainly depends on the electromagnetic interference of the application environment and whether there are clear secrecy requirements. The electromagnetic compatibility of the unshielded system is slightly worse than that of the shielding system, but it meets the building environment requirements of E1 and part of E2. It can be used in most scenarios. However, the shielding system must be used in the environment that reaches the E3 level.

The application of CAT6A

The cost of the unshielded system is relatively low, and the construction and maintenance are relatively simple, but the electromagnetic compatibility is slightly worse than the shielding system. The shielding system is recommended for places with serious radio disturbance and power frequency magnetic field and confidentiality requirements.

Combined with the classification level of electromagnetic environment and common secrecy requirements, the conventional application scenarios of over six types of shielding and unshielding are summarized.

Shielding system: national defense, public security bureau, procuratorate, court, scientific research, finance, computer room, and strong electromagnetic industrial environment.

Unshielded systems: commercial, home improvement, office, park, etc.

People may wonder why not directly use seven or even CAT8 of systems, one level higher than the Cat.6A system.

Because the bandwidth of the seven types of systems is 600MHz, according to the standard, it also belongs to 10G 10 Gigabit networks, and the seven types of standards still need to be completely unified internationally. For example, the type of connectors is different from the well-known RJ45 interface, so the whole system is incompatible, and the overall system construction price is higher than CAT6. These problems lead to very few real applications of seven types of systems in the industry.

Because of the high cost of the 40G transmission rate and the distance limitation of eight types of systems, the higher price can be applied to something other than the wiring requirements of 10G.

James Hsu

James Hsu

Hello, I'm James Hsu, a sales representative at Hello Signal. I specialize in Fiber Optic Cables, Fiber Optic Patch Cords, Pigtails, ONU/OLT and WDM. I can recommend the most suitable products at competitive prices, ensuring worry-free service. Feel free to contact me with any questions.


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