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Tell me about Category 6A cabling


Like previous cabling standards they were not ratified as a standard until some years after their introduction. Category 6A dates back to 2004 but was not ratified for another 5 years. By then, however, it was known across the industry as the cabling category of the future that would enable the next wave of high-bandwidth copper connectivity. This was why cabling manufacturers quickly tried to replicate it and standards bodies were compelled to publish an agreed standard.

It provided the next incremental leap in bandwidth enabling the development and deployment of many bandwidth-intensive applications that enterprises of today cannot do without. With 1000Base-T speeds possible over Category 5 and Category 6 cable the next step was 10GBase-T. Initially it was thought possible to achieve this over Category 5 but this would have been very complex so the requirement was dropped and Category 6 made the minimum standard. Even so a nominal 100 metre range would not be possible with only 37 metres being able to be achieved on the 250 MHz bandwidth of the cable.

In order to achieve these speeds over a longer distance it was necessary to improve the cabling performance along with improving the electronics.

Top 10 reasons to choose Category 6A for your next cabling installation:

10. Recommended for new installations in healthcare facilities.
Published in 2010, TIA-1179 recommends Category 6A for all new installations in healthcare facilities and was the first standard to recommend Category 6A for new installations outside of the data centre.

9. Recommended for new installations in educational facilities.
Published in 2014, TIA-4966 recommends Category 6A for new education facilities based on the need for high-performance infrastructure required for wired and wireless connectivity.

8. Supports 10GBASE-T to 100 meters.
Category 6A’s support of 10GBASE-T to 100 meters ensures it can support the fastest Ethernet applications over twisted pair media on the market to the full channel length specified in the standards (TIA-568 and ISO/IEC 11801 to quote a few). This comes at a time when high-performance workstations are beginning to demand 10 Gigabit performance as well.

7. 10GBASE-T provides improved price performance and lower power consumption.
Dramatic improvements to 10GBASE-T over the last few years result in significantly lower overall price and power efficiency per gigabit than 1000BASE-T. It looks like the old industry saying, “Today’s server is tomorrow’s desktop,” may be applicable to 10GBASE-T.

6. Supports the familiar and backwards compatible RJ45 user interface.
Category 6A supports the tried and true, familiar, and backwards-compatible RJ45 interface. The RJ45 demonstrated the power of standardisation, has enabled the global growth of Ethernet as we know it, and has become a universal interface for a broad range of applications.

5. Supports new in-building wireless systems that rely on 10G technology.
Contrary to popular belief, wireless needs wires. New in-building wireless systems relying on 10GBASE-T LAN technology and remote powering over Category 6A that support multi-operator and multi-technology coverage and capacity solutions in buildings are already in the market.

4. Supports Wi-Fi technologies already exceeding 1 Gbps.
Today’s 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6) access points can have a maximum speed of 6.77 Gbps, which would require a 10GBASE-T connection to operate at the highest data rate they are capable of running. TSB-162-A, Telecommunications Cabling Guidelines for Wireless Access Points, also recommends running at least Category 6A or higher cabling to all wireless access points.

3. Category 6A is globally available in unshielded and shielded versions.
The debate about the virtues of unshielded and shielded solutions will continue. Category 6A (and CommScope) supports both, while customers continue to speak with their wallets in favor of the more familiar, and easier to install, unshielded solutions.

2. Provides superior performance for Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications.
At a time when the PoE standards are updated to double the power delivered to devices utilising all four pairs in the cable, Category 6A offers enhanced thermal dissipation performance over its Category 5e and Category 6 predecessors. Read more in this white paper on Category 6A advantages for PoE.

1. Offers simple and cost-effective provisioning to support current and emerging applications.
Category 6A offers the most cost-effective and simple provisioning to prepare today’s buildings for current and future applications. With 10 gigabit applications starting to emerge, the time is right to consider provisioning the building with the right copper cabling infrastructure based on Category 6A twisted pair connectivity.
Lowest cost per transmitted gigabit!

Within the next 12 months Category 6A will become the most installed system in preference to Category 6 and there is little extra cost in specifying Category 6A over Category 6.

Contact us to discuss your next cabling project.

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