Cat. 6A ≠ Cat. 6 A ≠ Class EA

In the market today there are a lot of different definitions and interpretations of Cat. 6A.  It is commonly understood that Cat. 6A has already been fully specified for quite a while. This is not the case, especially when one looks to the global cabling standards ISO/IEC 11801 and not to the regional US cabling standard. There are 2 reasons for this:

1.          Naming Confusion

The regional US American cabling standard EIA/TIA 568-B.2 Add. 10 describes all configurations (channels, links and components) as "Cat. 6A". This imprecise naming leads to the fact that it is impossible to be sure what people are talking about when they say: "Cat. 6A". This can be a channel or a permanent link or even the most stringent and most important definition, the component specification. This naming convention is different from the one that the international cabling standard ISO/IEC 11801 and the regional European cabling standard EN 50173-1 have chosen. In these standards configurations like channels and permanent links are called Class EA while only the most important component specification is called Cat. 6A.

The following graphic illustrates the naming confusion:


2.         Performance Confusion

Unfortunately, not only the names are different when you compare EIA/TIA with ISO/IEC or EN. The transmission performance requirements for channels and permanent links and components also show significant variations. The ISO/IEC specifications for all configurations are much more stringent compared to the ones from the regional US standard.

Here is a technical comparison based on the PS NEXT parameter between ISO/IEC 11801 Amd. 1+2 and EIA/TIA 568-B.2 Add. 10:

stringent by
 Channel PS NEXT @ 500 MHz in dB 24.8 23.2 1.6
 Permanent Link PS NEXT @ 500 MHz in dB 26.4 23.8 2.6
 Component Cat. 6A NEXT @ 500 MHz in dB 37.0 34.0 3.0


3.       Conclusion from the Confusion

It is obvious, as shown above, that these different nomenclature and performance criteria make the selection process very difficult for end users. An EIA/TIA Cat. 6A channel ("weakest" specification) is called Cat. 6A as well as the ISO/IEC Cat. 6A component definition ("highest" definition). How can end users find their way in this standards jungle ?

The answer is actually easy and, paradoxically, it comes from the standards themselves. Customers should follow either the cabling standard of their region or take the international standard ISO/IEC 11801 as a reference.