17 Major Differences:Twisted Pair Cable Vs Coaxial Cable Vs Fiber Optic Cable

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.

twisted pair cable (between twisted pair cable vs coaxial cable vs fiber optic cable)

Characteristics of Twisted Pair Cable

  1. A single circuit has two conductors twisted together
  2. Modern Ethernet cables are either Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) or Shielded Twisted Pair (STP).
  3. The external magnetic field can affect the twisted pair cable
  4. The pair has insulated copper wire
  5. The price of the cables are quite affordable
  6. Designed to reduce noise from outside
  7. Transmission of signals takes place in electrical form
  8. Has a very high attenuation
  9. Installation and implementation is quite simple and easy
  10. The bandwidth of twisted pair cable is low
  11. Security of data transmission is not guaranteed
  12. Have low-speed transmission of television and telephone data
  13. Suitable for data network, telephone network, and cable shielding
  14. Have copper-based wires insulated with other materials
  15. The cables tend to be quite heavy
  16. Experience resistive loss, dielectric loss, radiated loss and loss over time.

Advantages of Twisted Pair Cable

  1. Comparatively cost-effective
  2. Pliable and easy to install
  3. Suitable for over a short distance

Disadvantages of Twisted Pair Cables

  1. Not durable
  2. Prone to EMI
  3. 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.

coaxial cable (twisted pair cable vs coaxial cable vs fiber optic cable)

Characteristics of Coaxial Cable

  1. Design to transmit high-frequency signals
  2. Classified into RG59 and RG6 coax cables
  3. Inner conductor transmit signal in the form of electrical form
  4. Coax cable not affected by magnetic fields
  5. Comprise of solid conductor wire, grounding conductor, a layer of insulation, and a layer of exterior insulation
  6. The price of the cable is relatively higher
  7. Installation and implementation is relatively difficult
  8. The bandwidth of the coaxial cable is higher
  9. Transmitted signal security is not guaranteed
  10. Suitable for connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas
  11. Transmit data, telephone and television signal at low speed
  12. Have copper-based wires surrounded with other insulation materials making the diameter wider
  13. The coax cables are heavier in weight
  14. Experience Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, and Radiated loss.
  15. Has low attenuation

Advantages of Coaxial Cable

  1. Quite durable
  2. Perform better over a short distance

Disadvantages of Coaxial Cable

  1. Signal loss over a long distance
  2. Signal tend to leak at point of egress
  3. 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.

fiber optic cable ( twisted pair cable vs coaxial cable vs fiber optic cable)

Characteristics of Fiber Optic Cable 

  1. Has one or more optic fibers for data transmission
  2. Classified into Single-mode fiber (SMF) and Multimode fiber (MMF).
  3. Transmit data as pulses of light through tiny tubes of glass
  4. Not affected by magnetic fields
  5. Have very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable.
  6. High performance and capacity make them quite expensive
  7. Have low attenuation
  8. Have the highest noise rejection power
  9. Installation and implementation is quite difficult
  10. Have the highest bandwidth
  11. The signal transmission has a security guarantee
  12. Suitable for long distances
  13. Has a faster speed signal transmission
  14. Tend to be lightweight in nature
  15. Consist of very thin and pliable tubes of glass or plastic
  16. Experience dispersion, bending, absorption, and attenuation

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable 

  1. Can be bundled together
  2. Has EMI resistant
  3. Has high performance over longer distances

Disadvantages of Fiber Optic Cable 

  1. Difficult to install and implement
  2. Tend to be quite expensive
  3. 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 10GbpsNot define the speed limitHas a speed of up to 10/100/1000Mbps,

10/40/100/200Gbps

Has a bandwidth of up to 4700MHzHas a bandwidth of 750MHz (default)Has a bandwidth of up to 4700MHz
Cover a distance of up to 100mCover a distance of up to 500mCover a distance of up to 80km
Comparatively affordableRelatively expensiveRelatively affordable
Easy to install, maintain and operateEasy to install and implementDifficult 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 weightHeavier in terms of weightTend to be lightweight
Have larger diameterHave larger diameterHave small diameter
Used in the telephone network, data network, and cable shieldingUsed in feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network connections, and digital audioUsed to support long-distance connections between countries and cities.
Signal transmission security  is not to guaranteeSignal transmission security is not to guaranteeSignal transmission security is a guarantee
Have very high attenuationHave low attenuationHave low attenuation
Not suitable for noise rejectionRelatively good for noise rejectionTopnotch when it comes to noise rejection
Have no alternative nameCoax cableOptical fiber cable
Can either be shielded or unshielded twisted pair cableCan either be RG59 or RG6Grouped 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 fieldLess affected by the magnetic fieldNever 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

  1. Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable have signal transmitted in form of electricity while fiber optic cable in form of optical.
  2. 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
  3. Fiber optic cable is more efficient when compared to both coaxial cable and twisted pair cable
  4. Coaxial cable has lower bandwidth while twisted pair cable and fiber optic fiber has a higher bandwidth
  5. Coaxial cable and twisted pair cable are easier to install while fiber optic fiber cable is difficult.
  6. Fiber optic cable is suitable for longer distances while twisted pair cable and coaxial cable for shorter distances
  7. Coaxial cable is also known as coax cable while fiber optic cable as optical fiber cable whereas twisted pair cable has no alternative name
  8. Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable are relatively affordable while optical fiber cable is quite expensive
  9. Coaxial cable and twisted pair cable are heavier while optical fiber cable is lightweight
  10. Twisted pair cable and coaxial cable are heavier than fiber optic cable
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The signal transmitted security by twisted pair cable and coaxial cable is not guaranteed while that of optical fiber cable is a guarantee
  14. Twisted pair cables have a very high attenuation while both coaxial cable and optical fiber cable is quite low
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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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Summary

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.