Reliable cables are what keep our digital world spinning. Shielded twisted pair cable (STP) and unshielded twisted pair cable (UTP) are the most employed cables for network connectivity. Below, we uncover the difference between shielded and unshielded cables that make them functional for varying digital tasks.
Difference in Structure
There are slight differences in the structures of STP and UTP cables. STP cables are composed of individual pairs of wire twisted together. These coiled cables are then wrapped in either foil or a copper braided jacket. UTP cables differ in that they have their pair of wires twisted together but get wrapped in tubing without additional protection. STP is the more expensive option of the two, making UTP cables the more popular, inexpensive choice.
How To Choose Your Cable
There are two factors considered to determine which cable to use per application. You must know the amount of protection the application needs from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and power frequency. These numbers indicate whether a shielded or unshielded cable should be utilized.
When Shielded Cables Get Used
STP cables minimize EMI and frequency interference from external electronic devices. STP cables’ ability to prevent electronic intrusion makes them the optimal choice for a steady connection. The three types of STP cables are braided, spiral, and metal-coated mylar. They have varying percentages of EMI shielding. Braided cables shield 90 percent of EMI, while spiral serves 98 percent EMI shielding, and metal-coated mylar, also known as foil, serves 100 percent EMI shielding.
Environments that have a greater risk of electronic interference typically use shielded cables. Places like radio stations and airports are susceptible to interference, so they apply shielded cables to reduce interrupting connection chances.
Because security systems must be protected from power and radio frequency interference, they use STP cables. Shielded cables prevent noise from leaving the cable, reducing the odds the connection gets picked up from unwarranted devices.
When Unshielded Cables Get Used
The difference between shielded and unshielded cables lies in how they function. Instead of utilizing shielding to diminish electronic intervention, UTP cables’ structure serves that purpose. The way the wires are twisted inside of the cable limits EMI.
UTP cables are the preferred choice for simpler network settings for their versatility and lightweight features. They are also comparatively inexpensive cables, which makes them the more accessible option.
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