What is the difference between twisted pair cable, coaxial cable, and fiber optic cable?
Network cables have made communication systems in the world quite simple and easy. Twisted pair cables, coaxial cables, and fiber optic cables are some of the valuable network cables to consider.
These cables play different roles and they tend to be quite distinct from each other in terms of features and specifications. Each cable has its advantages and disadvantages.
The lesson provides detailed insight into the difference between twisted pair, coaxial cable, and fiber optics in tabular form. Take the time to read to know the twisted pair cable vs optical cable vs coaxial cable.
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What Is a Twisted-Pair Cable?
A twisted pair cable is mainly used in telephone communication and a modern Ethernet network. The cable is a type of wiring with two conductors twisted together.
The wires are responsible for transmitting data in a complete circuit and the twisted pair offers protection against crosstalk which is the noise generated by the adjacent pairs.
Twisted pair cables can either be shielded or unshielded pair cables. The shielded twisted pair cable is surrounded by a fine wire mesh to protect wires from the transmission. Unshielded twisted pair cable is not surrounded by a fine mesh.
Characteristics of Twisted Pair Cable
- A single circuit has two conductors twisted together
- Modern Ethernet cables are either Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) or Shielded Twisted Pair (STP).
- The external magnetic field can affect the twisted pair cable
- The pair has insulated copper wire
- The price of the cables are quite affordable
- Designed to reduce noise from outside
- Transmission of signals takes place in electrical form
- Has a very high attenuation
- Installation and implementation is quite simple and easy
- The bandwidth of twisted pair cable is low
- Security of data transmission is not guaranteed
- Have low-speed transmission of television and telephone data
- Suitable for data network, telephone network, and cable shielding
- Have copper-based wires insulated with other materials
- The cables tend to be quite heavy
- Experience resistive loss, dielectric loss, radiated loss and loss over time.
Advantages of Twisted Pair Cable
- Comparatively cost-effective
- Pliable and easy to install
- Suitable for over a short distance
Disadvantages of Twisted Pair Cables
- Not durable
- Prone to EMI
- Have a higher attenuation
What Is a Coaxial Cable?
A coaxial fiber is typically designed to transmit high-level signals. It is also known as coax cable. It comprises of round copper conductor, three layers of insulation, and shielding.
Insulation and shielding are responsible for preventing crosstalk from motors, lighting, and other sources of EMI. The coax cable can support longer cable lengths between two devices.
Coax cables are classified into RG59 and RG6. RG59 coax cable is suitable for TV transmission since it has less shielding and thinner in design. RG6 is suitable for digital video signals and satellite TV due to heavier gauges and thick insulation and shielding.
Characteristics of Coaxial Cable
- Design to transmit high-frequency signals
- Classified into RG59 and RG6 coax cables
- Inner conductor transmit signal in the form of electrical form
- Coax cable not affected by magnetic fields
- Comprise of solid conductor wire, grounding conductor, a layer of insulation, and a layer of exterior insulation
- The price of the cable is relatively higher
- Installation and implementation is relatively difficult
- The bandwidth of the coaxial cable is higher
- Transmitted signal security is not guaranteed
- Suitable for connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas
- Transmit data, telephone and television signal at low speed
- Have copper-based wires surrounded with other insulation materials making the diameter wider
- The coax cables are heavier in weight
- Experience Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, and Radiated loss.
- Has low attenuation
Advantages of Coaxial Cable
- Quite durable
- Perform better over a short distance
Disadvantages of Coaxial Cable
- Signal loss over a long distance
- Signal tend to leak at point of egress
- Speed tends to fluctuate under heavy usage
What Is a Fiber Optic Cable?
A fiber optic cable is an Ethernet cable that consists of two or more optic fibers that transmit data. The optic fiber transmits data as pulses of light go through tiny tubes of glass.
The cable is also known as optical fiber cable. It has the reputation of transmitting 26,000 times higher than that of twisted pair cable.
The optical fiber cable is further divided into single-mode fiber (SMF) and multimode fiber (MMF). These classes differ in performance and how they operate.
Single-mode fiber has a small core that allows one mode of light to propagate at a time while multimode fiber has a larger core which is designed to transfer multiple light rays or modes at the same time.
Examples of single-mode fiber are OS2 cable while those of multimode fiber are OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, and OM5.
Characteristics of Fiber Optic Cable
- Has one or more optic fibers for data transmission
- Classified into Single-mode fiber (SMF) and Multimode fiber (MMF).
- Transmit data as pulses of light through tiny tubes of glass
- Not affected by magnetic fields
- Have very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable.
- High performance and capacity make them quite expensive
- Have low attenuation
- Have the highest noise rejection power
- Installation and implementation is quite difficult
- Have the highest bandwidth
- The signal transmission has a security guarantee
- Suitable for long distances
- Has a faster speed signal transmission
- Tend to be lightweight in nature
- Consist of very thin and pliable tubes of glass or plastic
- Experience dispersion, bending, absorption, and attenuation
Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable
- Can be bundled together
- Has EMI resistant
- Has high performance over longer distances
Disadvantages of Fiber Optic Cable
- Difficult to install and implement
- Tend to be quite expensive
- Prone to cut and damage
Comparison Chart: Twisted Pair Cable Vs Coaxial Cable Vs Fiber Optic Cable
|Twisted Pair Cable||Coaxial Cable||Fiber Optic Cable|
|Has a speed up to 10Gbps||Not define the speed limit||Has a speed of up to 10/100/1000Mbps,|
|Has a bandwidth of up to 4700MHz||Has a bandwidth of 750MHz (default)||Has a bandwidth of up to 4700MHz|
|Cover a distance of up to 100m||Cover a distance of up to 500m||Cover a distance of up to 80km|
|Comparatively affordable||Relatively expensive||Relatively affordable|
|Easy to install, maintain and operate||Easy to install and implement||Difficult to install, maintain and operate|
|Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, Radiated loss, and Loss over time.||Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, and Radiated loss.||Dispersion, bending, absorption, and attenuation.|
|Heaviest in terms of weight||Heavier in terms of weight||Tend to be lightweight|
|Have larger diameter||Have larger diameter||Have small diameter|
|Used in the telephone network, data network, and cable shielding||Used in feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network connections, and digital audio||Used to support long-distance connections between countries and cities.|
|Signal transmission security is not to guarantee||Signal transmission security is not to guarantee||Signal transmission security is a guarantee|
|Have very high attenuation||Have low attenuation||Have low attenuation|
|Not suitable for noise rejection||Relatively good for noise rejection||Topnotch when it comes to noise rejection|
|Have no alternative name||Coax cable||Optical fiber cable|
|Can either be shielded or unshielded twisted pair cable||Can either be RG59 or RG6||Grouped as Single-mode fiber (SMF) and Multimode fiber (MMF).|
|Transmission of the signal takes place in the form of electrical over metallic conducting wire.||Transmission of the signal takes place in the form of electrical over the inner conductor of the cable.||Signal transmission takes place in light forms over glass fiber.|
|Affected by the external magnetic field||Less affected by the magnetic field||Never affected by the external magnetic field|
|Consist of a pair of insulated copper wire.||Comprise of solid conductor wire, a layer of insulation, a grounding conductor, and a layer of exterior insulation.||Made up of very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable.|
Core Differences: Twisted Pair Cable Vs Coaxial Cable Vs Fiber Optic Cable
- Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable have signal transmitted in form of electricity while fiber optic cable in form of optical.
- Fiber optic cable has a speed up to 200 GBs and twisted pair cable up to 10GBs while coaxial cable has no define speed limit
- Fiber optic cable is more efficient when compared to both coaxial cable and twisted pair cable
- Coaxial cable has lower bandwidth while twisted pair cable and fiber optic fiber has a higher bandwidth
- Coaxial cable and twisted pair cable are easier to install while fiber optic fiber cable is difficult.
- Fiber optic cable is suitable for longer distances while twisted pair cable and coaxial cable for shorter distances
- Coaxial cable is also known as coax cable while fiber optic cable as optical fiber cable whereas twisted pair cable has no alternative name
- Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable are relatively affordable while optical fiber cable is quite expensive
- Coaxial cable and twisted pair cable are heavier while optical fiber cable is lightweight
- Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable are heavier than fiber optic cable
- Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable experience resistive loss, dielectric loss, radiated loss, and loss over time while optical fiber cable experience dispersion, bending, absorption and attenuation.
- Twisted pair cable is suitable for telephone networks, data networks, and cable shielding, coaxial cable is suitable for feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas and optical fiber cable for long-distance connections between countries and cities.
- The signal transmitted security by twisted pair cable and coaxial cable is not guaranteed while that of optical fiber cable is a guarantee
- Twisted pair cables have a very high attenuation while both coaxial cable and optical fiber cable is quite low
- Twisted pair cable is not good in noise rejection, coaxial cable is good in noise rejection and fiber optic cable is the best in noise rejection
- Twisted pair cable consists of insulated copper wire while coaxial cable consists of solid conductor wire, a layer of insulation, a grounding conductor, and a layer of exterior insulation while optical fiber cable consists of very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable.
- Twisted pair cable is affected with magnetic fields, coaxial cable-less affected by magnetic fields while optical fiber cable never affected by magnetic fields
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No doubt that there is a lot of differences between twisted pair cable vs coaxial cable vs fiber optic cable. The optical fiber cable is quite popular across the world when compared to coax cable and twisted pair cable. Their applications are what set them apart.