Dummy’s Guide to the Cat6a and Cat6 Ethernet Cables

  • Last modified: February 23, 2024

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Dummy Guide to the Cat6a and Cat6 Ethernet Cables

Cat6 and 6a are two of the most commonly used Ethernet networking cables. These cables are similar in many ways but are also radically different. What are these cables and how are they different from one another? What are they used for and which one do you need? These are the questions we are answering in this blog.

If you are entirely new to ethernet cables, or if you want to know more about the Cat6a and Cat6 Ethernet cables, we will be your guide. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

What is Cat6?

The 1000ft Cat6 cable was rolled out in 2002. It is the 6th category of ethernet cables which was introduced after the enhanced category 5 cables. This cable was intended for use in high-performance networks at first. But with the introduction of Cat6a, 7, and Cat8 cables, 1000ft Cat6 cable took the back seat.

This does not mean that the Cat6 ethernet cable is not used in high-performance networks. Instead, it means that this cable is now used for average applications, and the high-performance applications are handled by Cat6a solutions.

Like all other Ethernet cables, Cat6 is a twisted-pair cable. This design feature is key to minimizing EMI (electromagnetic interference) and Crosstalk.

In addition to twists in the conductor pairs, Cat6 cables have a spline, also known as a wire separator which also provides better immunity against interference.

Cat6 ethernet cable has a data transfer speed of up to 1 GBit/s over 100 meters and up to 10 GBit/s over 50 meters or less. This cable has a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz – making it ideal for all sorts of ethernet applications.

Cat6 Cables

Although the basic design features and mechanism of the 1000ft Cat6 cables are the same, there are different variants characterized by the type of conductor, jacket, etc. Following are some of the best Cat6 Cables.

  • STP Cat6 Plenum Bare Copper Cable
  • UTP Cat6 Plenum Bare Copper Cable
  • STP Cat6 Riser Solid Copper
  • UTP Cat6 Riser Solid Copper

What is Cat6a?

Cat6a is the augmented category 6 cable. This cable is technically the Cat6 cable, but this one has a few differences. It features more twists in the conductor pairs, as compared to the Cat6 cables. Moreover, the cable is only produced in bare copper conductors, and plenum and riser jackets.

The cable is tested to upwards of 10 GBit/s of data transfer over 100 meters and has a whopping 750 MHz bandwidth capacity.

Cat6a cable is used in both residential and commercial networks. Further, it also finds its use in data centers where generally Cat8 cables are now used.

The Cat6a cable is made only from the best materials available. For example, its jackets are only made from LSZH ( Low Smoke Zero Halogens) Plenum and Riser materials. Both of which are highly resistant to heat, humidity, and extreme weather. The conductors of the cable, as mentioned, are only made from pure copper. Unlike Cat6 cables which have conductors made from both CCA and Bare Copper.

Cat6a Cables

Like the Cat6 cables, Cat6a Cables are also similar from the basic design perspective. But due to different types of conductors, jackets, and shielding, the cables are characterized by the following types:

  • STP Cat6a Plenum Solid Copper
  • UTP Cat6a Plenum Solid Copper
  • STP Cat6a Plenum Stranded Copper
  • UTP Cat6a Plenum Stranded Copper
  • STP Cat6a Riser Solid Copper


The difference between Cat6a and Cat6 ethernet cables is in both speed and bandwidth. Further, the cores of both cables are also different from the design perspective. Cat6a cable 1000ft has a higher bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz as compared to bulk Cat6 cable. Moreover, the Cat6a cable conductor pairs are more tightly twisted.

This is a difference in design. What does this imply for the useability of the cables? Meaning, what differences will you notice when you use both of them simultaneously?

Well, interestingly, you will not notice much difference when you are not using them at their optimum capacities. But when the cables are used simultaneously at their peak performance points, the Cat6a cable will be able to hold well. It will be transferring data at faster speeds and the quality of the connection will be better. The signal integrity will also be relatively more reliable.

Having said that, the 1000ft Cat6 cable might be underperforming as compared to the 6a, but it is by no means a less reliable cable.

To reiterate, both of these cables have extremely high capacities. And it is unlikely for these specifications to not suffice for any ethernet application. Gigabit and 10 gigabit is too high a performance that the cables will always be enough for use.

Shielding in Cat6 and Cat6a Cables

Shielding is a protective measure in the cables installed against EMI and crosstalk. This shield is made from either metal foil or wire mesh. It reflects or absorbs the interference coming from other cables in the surrounding.

Shielded Cat6 and 6a cables are a must-have for networks that are crowded with too many wires. Too many wires mean too much interference, which ultimately demands a protective measure against it.

Their unshielded variants are not used in commercial networks. But in residential networks, the unshielded Cat6 and 6a can be used, provided the networks are not running too many cables in parallel.

Uses of Cat6 Cable

Wireless Applications:

The Cat6 cable 1000ft is not only used to connect PCs and other devices, it is also used to establish wireless connections. If you need to connect your wireless router to the ISP, this cable is ideal. Specifically for residential use.

Power Over Ethernet:

Power Over Ethernet (PoE) is the transmission of both electric power and data across the same cable. Cat6 cable with bare copper conductors effortlessly transmits both data and electricity to power different devices such as IP security cameras, Walk-through metal detectors, Smart TVs, etc.

1000BASE-T Applications:

1000Base-T applications define data transfer speeds of 1000MBit/s at 100 meters. This standardized network is widely adopted across the globe and is used in homes, schools, hospitals, business centers, offices, etc.

Uses of Cat 6a Cable

Data Centers:

The Cat6a cable’s 10 GBit/s is fast enough for use in data centers. In this application, the servers and other devices are connected at close lengths. Sometimes, even within a few inches. And when you use this cable to connect devices within a few inches or a few feet, it virtually never lags or glitches.

Wireless Applications:

Cat6a ethernet cable is also used to connect WiFi routers to establish a wireless network. Well, it isn’t wireless in that sense, but users can connect to the WiFi wirelessly. So, the Cat6a cable can provide fast and uninterrupted connections from ISP to residential and commercial buildings and within buildings as well.

Power Over Ethernet:

In contrast to the Cat6 ethernet cable, Cat6a is produced only with bare copper conductors. These conductors can transmit both data and power without overheating which reduces the chances of a fire outbreak. Safety is important in wired networking and the Cat6a cable is a safe solution for PoE.

10BASE-T Networks:

Standard 10BASE-T networks transmit data at stellar speeds of up to 10 GBit/s over 100 meters. Cat6a ethernet cables, needless to say, are built for that. All kinds of institutions around the world seek 10BASE-T networks. And the Cat6a cable is the go-to choice for establishing networks of this kind.

Cat6 or Cat6a: Which one to Buy?

If you are still reading this blog, you are probably looking to buy the Cat6 or 6a ethernet cable. Or both. So, let’s help you figure out which one you should buy.

First, let’s decide why you need the cable? Is it for your home or perhaps, it is for your office?

For offices and other commercial applications, Cat6a is the cable you need. And for use in home/residential networks, you need to buy the Cat6 cable.

But… there’s something else too.

If the commercial network is going to be crowded, meaning too many cables, you need the Shielded Cat6a. Similarly, if the residential network is going to be crowded, you should also get the shielded Cat6 variant.

Likewise, you can get the unshielded cables if the networks are not going to be crowded. Remember, EMI and Crosstalk are a big issue and proper shielding is most of the time required in business networks.

Why NewYork Cables?

NewYork Cables is the leading brand of cutting-edge networking cables and accessories. Our products not only meet but exceed the industry standards and we are offering free deliveries on orders above $299.99. Place your order now or contact us at sales@newyorkcables.com for more info.

Specification Cat5e Cat6 Cat6a
Cable Jacket Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum & Riser
Wire Gauge 24-AWG 23-AWG 23-AWG Highly Twisted
Frequencies 350 MHZ 550 MHZ 750 MHZ
Installation Temp 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C
Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs
Package Easy Pull Box Easy Pull Box Wood Spool
Colors Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow
Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon, our Cat6a expert, demystifies high-speed connectivity with a fresh perspective. Her concise blogs make advanced technology accessible to all.

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