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6 Key Considerations When Choosing Category 6A Cable

In last week’s post, we covered the uses for Category 6A cable, including emerging applications as well as recommendations for adoption by industry standards bodies. This week, we will go one step further and look at some factors that determine the choice of a Category 6A cable. While all Category 6A products have the same minimum criteria of specifications, they are all (surprisingly) very different in terms of their physical characteristics. This will influence how well they perform at the extremes of their specifications. This is so very important, because as we’ve seen countless times in the past; the extremes of today are the standards of tomorrow.

Below is a list of, what we feel, are the most significant factors to consider when choosing a Category 6A cable.

1. Cable size and weight

Category 6A cables can be up to 50% larger than their category 6 predecessors. This is a result of many factors, but the bottom line is:  larger size means fewer cables in a cable tray or conduit (a huge concern in retrofits!).

2. Bend radius

With a larger cable diameter comes a larger bend radius.  The smaller the bend radius, the easier the cable is to route and install.

3. Installation complexity

Most Category 6A cables are larger because they contain more and thicker materials. All of these materials add up to cables that take longer to prep and terminate. Thinner and more round cables take less time to install.

4. Power delivery

Newer thermal-barrier designs in Cat 6A distribute heat around the circumference of the cable, eliminating hot-spots.  Some are capable of delivering up to 100W PoE while keeping thermal rise within acceptable limits.

5. Channel length

Some small-diameter Category 6A cables may not support the full 100 m distance per-channel, especially when delivering PoE.  These runs will need to be de-rated to less than full length.

6. EMI shielding

Cable designs that effectively surround the conductors with a Faraday cage can provide an electromagnetic barrier without the potential drawbacks of grounding.

Belden 10GX System: Where Design and Performance Come Together

Belden’s Category 6A 10GX System overcomes the traditional drawbacks and compromises associated with Category 6A installation and use. The system has been specifically designed to support the mission-critical needs of data centers, server farms, storage area networks, and campus backbones or network access nodes. The copper team has been working hard to ensure their 10GX Solution is ready to meet emerging application demands.

Article adapted from Belden.com/blog. To read the full article, click here.

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