2020 E-Rate Season: CAT-6A – Is Your Network Cabling Up To Speed?

What is CAT6A?

Along with the evolution of technology comes the increasing demand for higher network speeds and capabilities. Because of these demands, new cables and components have been created to match the need for faster transfer speeds over longer distances. Augmented CAT-6 (AKA CAT-6A) is quickly becoming the most cost effective solution in the field of Education. It is a network ethernet cable that’s capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps at a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz. The components of CAT-6A are used in Class EA networks as defined in ISO/IEC 11801 and TIA/EIA 568. CAT-6A not only has additional and tighter twists, but also boasts more insulation, which reduces cross talk. It’s important to note that CAT-6A is backwards compatible with CAT-6 and CAT-5e. However, keep in mind that speeds will perform to the lowest category cable or connector installed in the link.

Why Install CAT-6A?

While Cat6A is neither the newest nor the most advanced Ethernet on the market today, it has become a staple in the industry and services a wide range of networks. It is recommended for new installations in Education because of both the cost and performance benefits. Ethernet tends to be both the more affordable and more reliable way to keep devices in communication. One of the main benefits of installing CAT-6A infrastructure is to future proof the network. If the lifetime of a new cabling system is five or more years, CAT-6A should be highly considered. If the planned lifetime of the network is ten or more years, CAT-6A will most likely be the best solution.

CAT-6A Applications

Since CAT-6A costs more than other Ethernet designs, it’s important to justify that cost increase. Specifically, CAT-6A’s thicker cable design can make it difficult to pack into cable-dense environments, but that’s exactly where the alien crosstalk mitigation is most important. Medium-range networks are where you’ll see the most CAT-6A. These are networks that need 10 Gbps rates but aren’t necessarily large enough to necessitate fiber optics. Education and health are the most common fields that meet these criteria. Schools and healthcare offices tend to run on heavy data use, but many of the facilities can be serviced by 100-meter, point-to-point cables.


Overall, CAT-6A is an advanced Ethernet option that can boost your network’s capability without highly escalating cost. You can also use your E-rates to upgrade your Ethernet technology. If you have any questions about whether this is the best option for your school or school system, please contact us today!