All too often, people would log on to an online store and just buy the first Cat6a cable they find. That is wrong. You cannot establish a LAN or WAN connection that lasts and functions properly if you buy your Cat6a Ethernet cables like that. Because this cable is produced in a variety of different choices to choose from you need to be careful when buying the Cat6a 1000ft cable. It is produced in shielded and unshielded variants as well as in solid and stranded.
If anything, you need to fully understand what these specifications mean and how it affects the cable performance. And to be fair, understanding these specifications is no rocket science. Just read this one blog, and you will know every important thing you need to know before buying.
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So without further ado, let’s find out important things you need to know while buying the Cat6a cable.
Cat6a Ethernet Cable Facts
The ‘a’ stands for augmented and the Cat6 stands for category 6. Meaning that it is the 6th category of ethernet cables that are an augmented version. The augmented means that the cable has a slightly different design and will perform much better than any regular Cat6 cable. The difference in its design is mainly in the conductors and their twists. Cat6a cable is produced only in pure copper conductors twisted much more tightly than its Cat6 counterpart.
In between the conductor pairs, a spline, also known as a wire separator is also integrated. It keeps the conductor pairs apart which directly results in reduced EMI (electromagnetic interference) and better performance.
Shielding in the cable is a metal foil or a wire mesh that is wrapped around the cable conductors. It’s integrated underneath the cable jacket to reflect or absorb the incoming and outgoing EMI. Shielding in the cable makes it rather expensive as well as a little hard to install.
People underestimate the importance of shielding. But it is crucial for a smooth and fast transfer of data, even more so in crowded networks where EMI can be a lot higher. So if you have a congested network with a bunk of cables running in parallel to each other, buy the shielded Cat6a cable. As you shall see, it is worth the extra cost and the tricky installation procedure.
Solid and Stranded
Solid and stranded refers to the construction of the conductor. Solid cables are made from a single piece of metal that resembles a solid structure. Stranded cables are made from multiple tiny strands of the element which are twisted together to make each wire. It is called stranded because of the many strands that are used to construct this cable.
Now, you need to know two things about both types of Cat6a 1000ft ethernet cable conductors:
Solid conductors are harder to install but offer much better resistance against EMI and keep signal integrity intact over long distances. Whereas the stranded conductors of the ethernet cable Cat6a are easier to install but could entertain more EMI as compared to their solid counterparts in long-distance transmissions.
The Cat6a ethernet cable performance is standardized at a run length of 100 meters. This means that over 100 meters, you can expect it to perform at its optimum. When you run the cable at lengths longer than 100 meters, its performance will decline. This is particularly true for unshielded cables whereas the shielded ones will still tolerate longer run lengths to some extent.
So the point here is that when you are buying the Cat6a cable, plan the run lengths accordingly. The bulk Cat6a comes in 1000 ft rolls and you cannot run all of the cables in one go. You will have to cut the cable into intervals of 328 feet – which is quite enough to be fair.
Find the Cat6a Cable you Need
Now as we mentioned, the Cat6a cable comes in a variety of choices to choose from. The following are the variants of the cable:
- UTP Cat6a Solid Plenum
- UTP Cat6a Solid Riser
- UTP Cat6a Stranded Plenum
- UTP Cat6a Stranded Riser
- STP Cat6a Solid Plenum
- STP Cat6a Solid Riser
- STP Cat6a Stranded Plenum
- STP Cat6a Stranded Riser
Note: STP stands for shielded twisted pair cables and UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair cables.
Don’t make this mistake!
The main point in knowing the above-mentioned details about the Cat6a cable is to make wiser decisions when buying it. Now it is understandable that the shielded and solid Cat6 Cables are good. But it does not mean that you ought to buy it for every purpose.
Yes shielded and solid cables perform better but they are harder to install and cost much more as well. Some cables are easier to install and more affordable and can do the same job as the expensive and stiffer cable, so why buy the latter?
Buy Cat6a Cable the Right Way
Well, if you do not have to buy the ethernet cable Cat6a the way you or most people do, how should you buy it? This is the obvious question that should pop up in your mind.
Here’s the answer: you buy the cable that is the most suitable for your needs. And you find the most suitable cable for your requirements by comparing each of its specifications with your unique networking needs.
For outdoor uses, you will get a solid cable. You will get the shielded solid cable if you will be running it in a crowded space. Choose stranded cables indoors. They are easy to install and get the shielded and stranded Cat6a cable 1000ft indoors if there are multiple cables running in parallel to each other. In most commercial networks, it’s always a wise idea to use shielded cables.
Finally, you now understand why buying the Cat6a cable without understanding its specifications can be a futile or in some cases, disadvantageous investment. Know your Cat6a ethernet cable first, and then buy it.