Category 6A cables, generally referred to as CAT 6A are becoming increasingly popular among users because of their transmission speed which is much better than previous versions like CAT 5e, CAT 6, and others. The transmission speed of these cables can go up to 10Gbps and therefore becoming first choice for users of VoIP, CCTV, and other data networks. The data transfer is facilitated at the frequency of 500Mhz.
All categories under it are called CAT 6A under a broad umbrella but it can be divided into various types depending on various characteristics. There are basically two primary types of CAT 6A cables; namely - F/UTP and U/UTP. The terms FTP and UTP are to facilitate differentiation between shielded and unshielded cable. According to the ISO/IEC standards, the first letter indicates the type of overall shield while the latter points to the type of shielding on each pair and the balanced element. This, by far, can be stated to be the easiest way to differentiate between CAT 6A cables. Let’s have a look at the different type of combinations that are possible based on this:
CAT 6A U/UTP
In a CAT 6A U/UTP cable, each pair is individually shielded with a metal foil. The cross talk between pairs is controlled by individual foil shields so there can be long lays as compared to CAT6A F/UTP. The long lays between the pairs is easy to untwist and therefore shortens the termination time. The lower DC resistance in these cables provides better PoE support. The features of this cable increase the outer diameter of the cable.
In a CAT6A F/UTP cable, the unshielded pairs are overall shielded with a metal foil. The foil shield keeps electrical noise from interfering with the cable. In these types of cables, the crosstalk between the pairs is controlled by the lay-length of the connection. Due to this mechanism, higher frequencies twist the pairs in small gaps with each pair having a varied lay. The cable also improves heat dissipation which minimizes temperature increase is PoE energized bundled cables.
A cable with twisted pair, it has four individually shielded pairs with an outer screen braid around all its pairs. This cable is considered from the Category 7 but sometimes is counted to be a part of CAT 6A cables.
Though there can be other differentiations on different basis, the standard distinction is done on this basis only. If you are using CAT6A cables for any installation, you must use a compatible shielded connector with shielded cables and similarly an unshielded cable for unshielded connectors. And to choose between shielded and unshielded cables, you need to consider your requirements along with the consideration of how cost-effective it turns out to be.