Cat6 Vs Cat6a Cable: Difference and Similarities Explained

Ethernet cables are around for quite sometimes now. They are an integral part of any computer network. You can think of ethernet cables as electricity cables in your house. If you have bad quality electrical cables, you'll constantly have electrical power failures. Similarly, if you have poor quality or old ethernet cables they will not work efficiently.


Just like everything else, ethernet cables have also improved over the past few years. Currently, category 6 or cat6 cables are widely popular in businesses and home networks. Cat6a is the latest reiteration of ethernet cabling. The “a” stands for augmented in cat6a. This is an improved version of its predecessor cat6. Cat6a Cables are often shielded making them perfect for industrial uses.





You can identify cat6 and cat6a by their jackets. A quick way to differentiate these two cables is to note that cat6a is much thicker and bulkier than cat6. The important thing to notice is that both cables have RJ45 Connectors, so always look for jackets and weights of the cables.

Wiring Structure:

The latest category cables have tightly twisted pairs of copper wires – from 4 to 10 pairs in each cable. These wires are used to transmit data, but cable length can be another factor in the way of data transmission. The more tightly twisted pairs of wire a cable has, the better data transmission would be. So, the main difference between cat6 and cat6a would be their internal wiring.

Since cat6a is manufactured using more advanced technology, it offers data transmission speed up to 10 gigabits. This higher standard, known as 10GBASE-T, was also implemented to improve signal-to-noise ratio and cross-talks.

Performance Enhancements:

While both cat6 and cat6a has the same amount of data transfer speed but the major difference comes in frequency. Cat6 has a frequency of 550 MHZ, one the other hand cat6a can transfer data to the lightning-fast speed of 650 to 750 MHZ. This speed provides a clear edge to cat6a over cat6 in high-speed networks.





This is another major difference between cat6 and cat6a. Cat6 Cable has three types of jacketing; plenum, riser, and PVC. One the other hand cat6a has only two; plenum and riser. Both of these cables have different insolation as well. Cat6a has a thin inner jacket shielding its twisted pair which is called shielded twisted pairs or STP. Whereas, cat6 has unshielded twisted pair wiring or UTP.

Extra shielding helps increase the reliability of cat6a. It blocks out interference in the areas that may suffer from heavy electromagnetic interferences. Small businesses and home networks mostly use unshielded cables. Shielded cables are used on industrial levels.

Maximum Lengths:

For category 6 cables, maximum lengths depend on network speed and cross-talks. If you have a low-speed network, the maximum length of cable is 100 meters or 330 feet, with 90% of that length is used for data transmission and the rest is for connections. In high-speed networks with ideal crosstalk conditions, the cat6 cable length is 55 meters. As compared to this, cat6a cable length is 100 meters for high-speed networks.

Final Verdict:

Both cat6 and cat6a are useful in their own ways. If you are looking to set up your network at an industrial level, cat6a is an ideal choice for you. Cat6 works perfectly for small business and home networks. You can buy premium quality ethernet cables from NewYork Cables at affordable prices.