Tag Archives: STP

Cat6 and Cat6a Copper Cable Differences

As the data speeds increase from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet, cables for the network connection are also required to be improved. Cat6 and Cat6a are two kinds of copper cables for Gigabit Ethernet. “A” is short for “augmented”. Cat6a is an enhanced Cat6 cable. Do you know which you should use, Cat6 or Cat6a? Could these two categories replace each other? Now this article will tell some of their differences from several sides.

cat6-and-cat6a

Appearance

It’s not difficult to identify Cat6 and Cat6a cables from appearance. If you look at the jacket carefully, you will find the identifiers printed as Cat6 and Cat6a. You can also distinguish these two cables from thickness. Cat6a cables are much thicker than Cat6 cables.

Shielding

Copper cables have shielded twisted pair (STP) and unshielded twisted pair (UTP). STP cable means there is one or more additional jackets surrounding the inner twisted wire pairs for insulation. The shielding is beneficial for protecting cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI). (For more information about STP vs. UTP difference, you can refer to my blog “STP vs. UTP, Which One Is Better?” .) Cat6 and Cat6a cables also include these two types. Though shielded Cat6 cables are available in the market, unshielded versions are easier to get. On the contrary, shielded Cat6a cables are more common.

Transmission Distance

Cat6 cable can support the transmission distance up to 100 metres at the data rate of 10, 100, 1000 Mbps. But it can support only 55 metres at the speed of 10 Gbps when crosstalk is in an ideal situation. What’s worse, the transmission distance can only reach 33 metres when the crosstalk is high. So the lengths of Cat6 cables are influenced by the network speed and crosstalk conditions. While Cat6a cables can support the distance over 100 metres at the speed of 10 Gbps.

Cost

Take Fiberstore as an example, the average cost of 1m Cat6 cable is about 1.00 US$ and more than 3.00 US$ for 1m Cat6a cable (cables maybe more expensive on other sites.). The more cables you purchase, the bigger the price difference will be. And the price difference is not only caused by the cable. Other matched connection components should also be considered.

Durability

As mentioned above, Cat6a cable is thicker and heavier than Cat6 cable. Cable trays can not hold as many Cat6a cables as Cat6 cables. When laying cables on the trays, you should better not bend cables too much as this can damage the wiring and influence network performance. The minimum radius that a cable can be bent without damaging is called the bend radius. The lower the bend radius, the more you can bend the cable. As Cat6a cable is bulkier than Cat6, Cat6a cable has a larger bend radius than Cat6 cable.

Which One Should You Buy?

Although Cat5e cable can meet the current needs in your home or office, higher bandwidth will be required in the near future. So you should upgrade your network with Cat6 or Cat6a cables which can provide greater bandwidth. At that time, you need to figure out which one to buy. If you install cables in a small room or business offices where cables might get close to one another, then Cat6a is better than Cat6 due to the alien crosstalk. Cat6 cables especially the unshielded cables, are much more prone to alien crosstalk than Cat6a, which uses superior insulation to protect its wiring.

Summary

From this article, you can make a clear identification of Cat6 and Cat6a cables. When you plan to purchase cables, you need to consider their differences like shielding, transmission distance, cost, durability, etc. Hope you can choose the suitable cable and build a high performance network.

STP vs. UTP, Which One Is Better?

When you prepare to buy Ethernet cables, you have to choose between STP (shielded twisted pair) and UTP (unshielded twisted pair) . That’s really difficult to decide if you don’t have enough knowledge of these two kinds of cables. Do you want to know more? Read this article and you will find the answer.

Why Are There STP and UTP Cables?

In data communication, electromagnetic interference (EMI) exists in cables. EMI, also called radio frequency interference (FRI), is a disturbance. This disturbance is caused by an external source affecting an electrical circuit by electrostatic coupling, electromagnetic induction, or conduction. The external source can be natural or man-made. For example, the natural sources include the sun, thunder storms, etc., while the man-made sources are vehicle ignition systems, cell phones, etc. EMI may cause data error and influence the transmission quality of cabling systems. In consideration of decreasing or avoiding EMI, shielding is one of the methods applied to protect cabling systems.

What Are STP Cables?

STP cable has a shield inside which is composed of copper tape, a layer of conducting polymer or a braid (made of copper or aluminum mostly). There are different types of shielding, such as braided shield, foil and screening. That makes different levels of shielding, including STP, SSTP (screened shielded twisted pair), FTP (foil twisted pair). The shield can be applied to each one of the pairs in a cable or to all pairs together.

stp-cable

Advantages of STP Cables

First, the shield of STP cables can reduce EMI. It’s good for increasing data transmission quality in buildings containing microwave equipment, HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) systems or radio transmitters. It blocks interference generated from devices such as power tools and vacuum cleaners. Although UTP cables are still able to reduce interference, their performance is not as good as STP cables.

Second, STP cables can reduce crosstalk with proper installation and maintenance. STP cables can resist signals from passing through the outer coating and entering nearby wires by accident because of the special cable constructure. STP cables are quite necessary for dealing with crosstalk especially when your building contains numerous network devices.

What Are UTP Cables?

UTP cables don’t have shielding to reduce interference. UTP cables reduce EMI through the way that the pairs are twisted inside the cable. Thus, UTP cables are lighter and thinner than STP cables.

utp-cable

Advantages of UTP Cables

First, easier to install and maintain. UTP cables contain no shields and they are thinner than STP cables, which is easier for cable installation and maintenance, particularly in limited space. While the shields of STP cables are quite fragile and rigid. If the shield suffered damage, cabling systems are likely to be affected by interference. What’s worse, it’s not easy to be repaired and needs special handling.

Second, more flexible. UTP cables are comparatively lighter. On one side, it makes the installation, transport and maintenance work easier. On the other side, it makes UTP cables more suitable to be used in narrow space.

Third, fewer cost. UTP cables are cheaper than STP cables. So are the related hardware. Besides, as mentioned above, UTP cables are easy to install and maintain. You don’t have to spend too much money on maintenance since UTP cables don’t rely on an outer shield. So they are beneficial to save you investment on installation and maintenance.

Applications

Due to different characteristics, the two types of cables are used in different environment.

STP cables are often used in situations nearby equipment causing EMI. For example, airports, medical centres and factories have lots of machines that can produce interference, so STP cables are typically applied. STP cables are also useful when cables must be run next to fluorescent lights, microwave ovens or powerful motors. What’s more, STP cables can be used in outdoor settings. Some people connect outdoor surveillance cameras to STP wiring. In that way, the video feed can avoid the interference generated by vehicles and power lines. And it can stop criminals from using jammers to interrupt communications between cameras and indoor monitors or recording equipment.

UTP cables are suitable to be used in offices and homes. They are less expensive than STP cables. So if the interference or crosstalk is not your main concern, you are suggested to choose UTP cables for saving you cabling cost. Remember not to select UTP cables if your place is full of powerful magnetic fields which can slow down the network speed or cause the network failure. Therefore, you’d better carefully evaluate the potential sources of interference.

Conclusion

Choosing the right cable can improve your network performance and extend the life span of your equipment. Before making the decision, it’s important to get well known of STP and UTP cables. You must know exactly each one’s advantages and application areas. If you need better anti-interference capabilities, you can select STP cables. If you put cost as the first factor, you may choose UTP cables. For both kinds of cables, you can find in FS.COM. Any question, please contact us via sales@fs.com.