How to Choose the Right Cat6a Cable for 10G Networks

NADDOD Adam Connectivity Solutions Consultant Feb 3, 2023

With the surge in data centre throughput, the demand for 10G networks has grown exponentially. Designed for high-performance 10G networks, Cat6a cables are the cable of choice for 10GBASE-T applications. The following article will detail the types of Cat6acables and application scenarios to guide you in choosing the right Cat6a cable for your 10G network.

Cat6a Ethernet Cable Overview

Super Cat6a network cable, also known as Cat6a network patch cable, consists of four twisted pairs of wires, usually terminated with an RJ45 crystal head. It is defined by the ANSI/TIA-568-C.2 standard and has a transmission distance of up to 100 metres in a 10GBASE-T network. Super Cat6a cable has twice the bandwidth of Cat6a cable, up to 500MHz, with a maximum transmission rate of 10Gb/s, and is backwards compatible with both Super Category 5 and Cat6 acable. Due to its large conductor diameter, close core spacing and shield design, it is resistant to both external crosstalk (ANEXT) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) and is commonly used in complex electromagnetic environments or in server rooms with high levels of interference.


Application Scenarios for Cat6a Network Cables

Gigabit Ethernet: Compared to fibre optic patch cords, Cat6a cables can support Gigabit Ethernet transmission at a lower cost, with a maximum transmission distance of 100 metres, making them the first choice for new cabling systems.

PoE power: Cat6a cables can support PoE power (Power over Ethernet) without the risk of line interruption.

Wireless networks: Cat6a cables can be used for wiring wireless access points to meet the market demand for high bandwidth networks.
HDBaseT connections: When connecting HDBaseT interfaces, Cat6a network cables are able to transmit high bandwidth signals, such as 4K Ultra HD, over distances of up to 100 metres at optimum performance compared to Category 5 and Cat6a cables.

Types of Cat6a Cable

Currently, Cat6a cables can be divided into three main types: unshielded (UTP), single shielded (FTP) and double shielded (SFTP) Cat6a cables.

Unshielded (UTP) Cat6a cable: Unshielded Cat6a cable consists of four pairs of twisted pairs without a metal shield or shield, which is easy to install and maintain and cheaper.

Single shielded (FTP) Cat6acable: Compared to unshielded Cat6a cable, single shielded Cat6a cable has an aluminium foil shield inside the outer jacket, which provides a certain level of crosstalk resistance and can effectively reduce electromagnetic interference and prevent data loss.

Double shielded (SFTP) Cat6a cable: In addition to a metal braided mesh shield inside the outer jacket, each pair of twisted pairs is also wrapped with an aluminium foil shield, which provides excellent resistance to near-end crosstalk and strong interference and provides faster and more stable data transmission for 10GBASE-T networks. Today, double-shielded Cat6a cable is used in a wide range of verticals, including government, healthcare and education.

In summary, unshielded, single-shielded and dual-shielded Cat6a cables are all suitable for 10GBASE-T network transmissions, but dual-shielded Cat6a cables offer the best performance and provide more advantages in 10GBASE-T network deployments.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cat6a Cable

As you can see above, the type of cable shield is the primary factor to consider when choosing a quality Cat6a cable, in addition to its size, core material and bend radius, as follows.


The size of the cable can be differentiated by the size of the wire gauge (AWG) value: the larger the AWG value, the smaller the conductor diameter and the thinner the cable. Generally, thicker wires are suitable for outdoor cabling because they are resistant to ageing and have low resistance, while thinner wires are easier to install and are suitable for indoor applications such as high density or confined space cabling. In general, 28AWG Cat6a cable is best for indoor high-density cabling, while 24AWG Super 6 cable is sufficient for outdoor industrial cabling.

Core Material

Currently, there are four common types of cable core materials.
1.Oxygen-free copper core: oxygen-free copper core network cable performance is the most excellent, high conductivity, signal attenuation is small, suitable for long-distance PoE power supply and line loss is small, but the price is relatively high.

2.Aluminium core: aluminium core wire performance is second only to oxygen-free copper core wire, due to the higher resistance, usually suitable for short-distance PoE power supply, can be used for home or small office wiring.

3.Copper-coated aluminium core: copper-coated aluminium-core wire refers to a certain percentage of copper plated on the outside of the aluminium-core wire, which is a little softer than oxygen-free copper-core wire, making it easier to transport and construct cables, but its conductivity is poor.

4.Iron core: iron core wire resistance is higher, only for short distance transmission and the transmission rate requirements of the application environment is not high.

As the core material determines the transmission performance of the cable, without regard to cost, the preferred choice of oxygen-free copper core super six network cable.

Bending Radius

The bend radius of the cable is the angle of the cable bend in the actual laying, if the minimum bend radius cannot be met, the cable transmission performance is generally poor. The bending radius mainly depends on the cable structure and material, generally the smaller the wire diameter, the larger the bending radius, the larger the wire diameter, the smaller the bending radius. Generally speaking, the bending radius of a network cable must not be less than 7 times its diameter. For cabling in narrow spaces (e.g. inside walls), it is recommended to choose a Super 6 cable with a larger bend radius.

Today, along with network upgrades, Cat6a cables are becoming a mainstream product for network engineering cabling. In practice, the choice of Cat6acable is largely based on your application requirements.