Cat6a Shielded vs Unshielded Ethernet Cable: Which to choose

Ethernet cables are the most important part of any business network. If you have the right cables installed, you can skyrocket your business, and similarly, substandard cables halt your business operations. Bulk Cat6a cable is the most popular ethernet cable for businesses with a high-performance requirement and among those who just like to be proactive. However, not everyone knows how to choose the right augmented category 6 cables as it comes in various variants.

For instance, should you get solid core cables or stranded? Should you get shielded Cat6a cables or unshielded? And on what factors should you decide which cable to choose? These are the questions that we will discuss in this article: Read on to learn.


What is Cat6a Cable?

As mentioned, it is the most popular ethernet cable for business use. It was introduced as an augmented version of its predecessor, Category 6 cable. Cat6a cable supports a maximum data transfer speed of up to a whopping 10 Gbps over a length of 100 meters and offers a bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz. Such high speeds and bandwidth capacity allow it to support all high-speed ethernet applications such as PoE, PoE+/++, 10BASE-T, fast ethernet, etc. 

To maintain the quality and standard of this cutting-edge cable, it is produced only with a communications multipurpose plenum and riser jacket. Its preceding cables are available in PVC jackets also but not this one. 



It is noteworthy that the cable jacket or insulation is an important part. It ensures long-lasting performance and keeps your local are network from posing any dangers of fire hazards. And plenum and riser jackets are best suited for ensuring the safety of your network infrastructure and human lives.



The conductors of the cable are made out of bare copper - twisted in pairs to keep the electromagnetic interference and crosstalk at bay. Bare copper as a conductor is highly efficient and long-lasting. It has ductility that makes it easier to twist and turn into any shape of your choice. If you are installing in a humid environment, it is corrosion free as well. 


What is a shielded Cat6a ethernet cable?

Although the cat6a is a high-performance cable, its performance can be enhanced further with a shield that is installed around the conductor wires. The shield is usually a shield that keeps ensures the quality of signals in your cables. What happens in high-density cable environments is that signals from different cables interfere in one another’s transmissions, and to prevent that, the shield is installed - hence the name, shielded cables. 

So, a shielded or STP cat6a cable has a foil shield around the conductor wire pair that keeps the quality of your signal at a maximum. It is obvious that installing the additional protection against EMI and external crosstalk costs a little extra. Other than this shield, Cat6a ethernet cable has no other feature that distinguishes it from its unshielded counterparts. 


What is an unshielded cat6a ethernet cable?

An unshielded or UTP cat6a ethernet cable is particularly designed for low cable density environments. It comes with all the regular features of its category but it does not feature an additional protective foiled sheath to prevent EMI and external noise from interfering with the signal transmission. 

As compared to its shielded counterparts, it is more affordable. If you have a business with a low cable density in your local area network, you can install these cables without worrying about signal integrity. 


Difference between Shielded and unshielded Cat6a cable?

As mentioned, the main difference between shielded and unshielded cat6a cable is the extra protective shield wrapped around the conductors in shielded and the lack of it, in unshielded. However, because of this simple difference, the use of the two types of this cable is also different. We will discuss it in the next part. 


Which Cat6a cable to choose? STP or UTP?

Choosing between the shielded and unshielded augmented category 6 cable requires an assessment of your requirement and the state of your local area network. If your business requires you to have top-of-line connection performance, you should definitely go for the shielded cables. These cables will keep the integrity of your signal perfectly intact, without lag. Moreover, if your local area network is in a state of a cable web, you also ought to choose the shielded cables to protect your signal transmission from all the interference from surrounding cables. 

On the other hand, if you have a fairly clean network, are well organized, and with a relatively lower number of cables, you can be extremely productive without the shielded cables. Note that in ideal conditions, both cables have provided the same performance, and in high cable density environments, the shielded cable is able to outperform its counterpart. The bottom line is; if your LAN is hosting a bunch of cables, you should use shielded ethernet cables, otherwise, you don’t really need to.