Learn About Cat6 Shielded Plenum Vs Cat6 Unshielded Plenum Ethernet Cable

Wondering what the difference between a Cat6 shielded plenum and a Cat6 unshielded plenum is? You have landed on the right page. 

In this article, we will walk you through the major differences between the Cat6 shielded plenum and the Cat6 unshielded plenum ethernet cable.

Keep reading to find out what sets the UTP cable apart from the STP Cat6 cable.

What is Cat6 Shielded Plenum?

Breaking Down: Cat6 Shielded Plenum:

The plenum in this phrase indicates that this Cat6 cable is fit for installation in plenum spaces. 

Plenum spaces are separate places in buildings designed to facilitate air circulation for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

These places are at greater risk of fire eruption and progression. Therefore, when it comes to ethernet cables, you are only allowed to install CMP-rated Cat6 cables here.

Now let’s find out what “shielding” in Cat6 shielded cable refers to.

What is Shielded Cable?

A shielded cable is one in which all four twisted pairs are wrapped with a screening material or shielding. 

This shielding or screening material is usually foil wrapping or copper braid jacket.

The purpose of this shielding is to provide extra protection against crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. 

These cables bear the STP (shielded twisted pair) mark.

If the cable bears SFTP mark, it means that the cable is shielded with braided wires as well as wrapped in a metal foil. Such a type of shielding is foolproof, so to speak. And it results in top-notch protection against all types of crosstalk.

The maximum shielding comes in SF/FTP rated Cat6 Shielded Plenum. It provides maximum protection against crosstalk, alien crosstalk, and RFI/EMI as they are accompanied by a foil shield and braid shield.

Understanding Unshielded Cat6 Cables:

The name itself is self-explanatory. “Unshielded” means that this type of cat6 cable is not accompanied by an extra layer or layers of protection.

These cables bear UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) markings. The UTP cables, just like STP cables, have eight copper conductors that are bundled together in 4 twisted pairs to increase signal strength.

Twisting and then pairing the conductors together not only reduces crosstalk and EMI– the two things that can significantly plummet network performances — but also maintain signal strengths at longer distances.

Shielded or Unshielded: Which Cable Should You Buy?

If you are planning to install ethernet cables in places/environments with significant crosstalk and EMIs, then you should go for Cat6 Shielded Plenum.

It is because they provide top-notch and extra protection against these interferences. If you are planning to install ethernet cables in environments where there is no or very little crosstalk or EMIs, then you should go with Cat6 Unshielded Plenum.

As far as prices are concerned, Cat6 Shielded Plenum sits on the higher end whereas Cat6 Unshielded Plenum is on the economical side.

In Short

If environments have no or very little crosstalk, then, spending extra bucks on shielded cables doesn’t make any sense. 

Also, the data transfer rates are concerned, they are the same for both shielded and unshielded: at a distance of up to 50 meters, the Cat6 family transfers data at a speed of 10Gbps (more than sufficient for all existing applications). 

Up to a distance of 100 meters, these cables can transfer data at a speed of 1Gbps (again, sufficient for all existing applications). However, installing any of these cables will leave you room for an upgrade in the future.

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