Twisted Pair Cable Vs Coaxial Cable Vs Fiber Optic Cable: What Is The Difference?

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Twisted pair cable, fiber optic cable and coaxial cable are three major types of network cables used in modern communication systems. These cables mainly differ from one another in terms of latency, speed of data transfer and overall security.

What Is Twisted Pair Cable?

Twisted pair cable is a type of cable in which two independently insulated conductors of a single circuit are twisted together for the purposes of reducing crosstalk and electromagnetic induction. There are two types of twisted pair cables: Shielded and unshielded twisted pair cable. Shielded Twisted pair cable has a fine wire mesh surrounding the wires to protect the transmission whereas Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable is not surrounded by a fine mesh.  Twisted Pair cable is used by older telephone networks and is the least expensive type of local area network (LAN) cable.

Twisted Pair Cable

What You Need To Know About Twisted Cable

  1. Twisted Pair cable is a kind of wiring in which two conductors of a single circuit are twisted together. A pair of wires forms a circuit that can transmit data.
  2. Common types of twisted pair Ethernet cable include: Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and Shielded Twisted Pair (STP).
  3. Transmission of signals takes place in the electrical form over metallic conducting wire.
  4. Twisted pair cable can be affected due to external magnetic field.
  5. Twisted pair cable is made up of a pair of insulated copper wire.
  6. Twisted pair cables are comparatively low in price when compared to both Coaxial and Fiber optical cables.
  7. Though twisted pair cables is designed to reduce noise from outside sources, it is usually not effective in rejecting this noise (noise is unwanted electrical or electromagnetic energy that degrades the quality of signals and data).
  8. Attenuation is very high.
  9. Installation and implementation of twisted pair cables is simple and easy.
  10. Low Bandwidth.
  11. The security of transmitted signal is not guaranteed.
  12. Twisted pair cables are generally used in telephone networks, data networks and cable shielding.
  13. Twisted pair cable can transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively low speed when compared to fiber optical cable.
  14. Twisted pair cables are copper-based wire surrounded by insulation with other materials. Therefore they are larger in diameter than fiber optical cables.
  15. Twisted pair cables are heavier in weight when compared to fiber optical cables.
  16. Loss is also another factor that can differentiate between coaxial, fiber optical and twisted pair cables. Loss is defined by decibels per unit length and at a given frequency. Thus, the longer the coaxial cable, the greater the loss. Some of the loss that occurs in twisted pair cables include: Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, Radiated loss and Loss over time.

What Is Coaxial Cable?

Coaxial cable, also referred to as coax cable is designed to transmit high-frequency signals. It is a type of copper cable specially built with a metal shield and other components engineered to block signal interference. It differs from other shielded cables because the dimension of the cable and connectors are controlled to give a precise, constant conductor spacing, which is needed for it to function efficiently as a transmission line.

Coaxial cable is primarily used in telephone trunk-lines, broadband internet networking cables, high speed computer data busses, carrying cable television signals and connecting radio transmitters and receivers to their antennas.

Coaxial Cable

What You Need To Know About Coaxial Cable

  1. Coaxial cable is designed to transmit high-frequency signals. It is comprised of a round copper conductor and three layers of insulation and shielding which prevents crosstalk from motors, lighting and other sources of EMI.
  2. Common types of Coaxial cable mostly used in residential applications include: RG59 and RG6.
  3. Coaxial cable is used to transmit signal in electrical form over the inner conductor of the cable.
  4. Coaxial cable is less affected due to external magnetic field.
  5. Coaxial cable is made up of four components moving from inside to the outside: a solid conductor wire, a layer of insulation, a grounding conductor and a layer of exterior insulation.
  6. The cost of coaxial cables is higher than that of twisted pair cables.
  7. Due to its fabrication, coaxial cables are relatively good at rejecting noise when compared to twisted pair cables.
  8. Attenuation is low.
  9. Installation and implementation of coaxial cable is relatively difficult due to the dielectric insulator around the core copper in coaxial cable.
  10. Moderately high bandwidth.
  11. The security of transmitted signal is not guaranteed.
  12. Coaxial cables are used in feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network (Internet) connections, digital audio (S/PDIF) and distributing cable television signals. They are also used in for high-definition media interface connections.
  13. Coaxial cable can transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively low speed when compared to fiber optical cable.
  14. Coaxial cables are copper-based wire surrounded by insulation with other materials. Therefore they are larger in diameter than fiber optical cables.
  15. Coaxial cables are heavier in weight when compared to fiber optical cables.
  16. Some of the loss that occurs in coaxial cables include: Resistive loss, Dielectric loss and Radiated loss.

What Is Fiber Optic Cable?

A fiber optic cable also referred to as optical fiber cable is a network cable that contains strands of glass fibers inside an insulated casing. All optical fibers use a core of hair-like transparent silicon covered with less refractive indexed cladding to avoid light leakage to the surroundings. They are designed for long distance, high-performance data networking and telecommunications. Fiber optic cable can be categorized into Single mode fiber (SMF) and Multimode fiber (MMF). Single-mode fiber uses extremely thin glass strands and a laser to generate light while Multi-mode optical cable uses LEDs. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the optical fiber, it is usually covered with a high-strength, lightweight protective material likes Kevlar.

Fiber Optic Cable

What You Need To Know About Fiber Optic Cable

  1. Fiber optic cable is a type of Ethernet cable which consist of one or more optic fibers that are used to transmit data.
  2. Fiber optic cable can be categorized into Single mode fiber (SMF) and Multimode fiber (MMF).
  3. Fiber optic cable transmits data as pulses of light go through tiny tubes of glass (Signal transmission takes place in light forms over a glass fiber).
  4. Fiber optical cable is never affected due to external magnetic field.
  5. Optical cables are made up of very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable. The fibers can be made of glass or plastic.
  6. In general, fiber optic cable is more expensive than copper cable due to its high performance and capacity.
  7. Optical fiber has highest noise immunity as the light rays are unaffected by the electrical noise.
  8. Attenuation is very much low.
  9. Installation and implementation of optical fiber is difficult. This is due to the fact that they are thin and fragile and therefore requires more care in installation.
  10. They have very high bandwidth when compared to coaxial and twisted pair cables; in this regard fiber optical cable offers a big benefit in terms of the flexibility of the bandwidth and reliability.
  11. There is increased security in fiber-optic technology and therefore it is hard to tap fiber-optic cables without also disrupting the system.
  12. Fiber optic cables are installed to support long distance connections between countries and cities. They are also used in data centers where large volume of data needs to be transmitted.
  13. Fiber optical cable can transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively faster speed when compared to twisted pair and coaxial cable.
  14. Fiber optical fiber cable is made of very thin, pliable tubes of glass or plastic and therefore it is small in diameter.
  15. Optical fiber cable is lighter in weight when compared to twisted pair and coaxial cables.
  16. Some of the loss that occurs in fiber optical cable include: Dispersion, bending, absorption and attenuation.

16 Difference Between Twisted Pair, Coaxial Cable And Fiber Optic Cable In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON TWISTED PAIR CABLE COAXIAL CABLE FIBER OPTIC CABLE
Alternative Name ____ Coaxial cable can also be referred to as coax cable. Fiber optic cable also referred to as optical fiber cable.
Description Twisted Pair cable is a kind of wiring in which two conductors of a single circuit are twisted together. A pair of wires forms a circuit that can transmit data.   Coaxial cable is designed to transmit high-frequency signals. It is comprised of a round copper conductor and three layers of insulation and shielding which prevents crosstalk from motors, lighting and other sources of EMI. Fiber optic cable also referred to as optical fiber cable, is a type of Ethernet cable which consist of one or more optic fibers that are used to transmit data.  
Types Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)   RG59 RG6 Single mode fiber (SMF)  Multimode fiber (MMF).  
Transmission Of Signal Transmission of signals takes place in the electrical form over metallic conducting wire.   Transmission of signal is in electrical form over the inner conductor of the cable.   Signal transmission takes place in light forms over a glass fiber.  
External Magnetic Field It can be affected due to external magnetic field.   It is less affected due to external magnetic field.   It is never affected due to external magnetic field.  
Made Up Of It is made up of a pair of insulated copper wire.   It is made up of four components moving from inside to the outside: a solid conductor wire, a layer of insulation, a grounding conductor and a layer of exterior insulation.   They are made up of very thin optical fibers bundled together into a single cable. The fibers can be made of glass or plastic.  
Price They are comparatively low in price when compared to both Coaxial and Fiber optical cables.   The cost of coaxial cables is higher than that of twisted pair cables.   Fiber optic cable is more expensive than copper cable due to its high performance and capacity cables.  
Noise Rejection It is usually not effective in rejecting this noise They are relatively good at rejecting noise when compared to twisted pair cables.   It has highest noise immunity as the light rays are unaffected by the electrical noise.  
Attenuation Attenuation is very high.   Attenuation is low.   Attenuation is very much low.  
Installation & Implementation Installation and implementation of twisted pair cables is simple and easy.   Installation and implementation of coaxial cable is relatively difficult. Installation and implementation of optical fiber is difficult.
Bandwidth Low Bandwidth.   Moderately high bandwidth.   Very high bandwidth.
Security The security of transmitted signal is not guaranteed.   The security of transmitted signal is not guaranteed.   It is hard to tap fiber-optic cables without also disrupting the system. Security of transmitted signal is guaranteed.  
Application They are generally used in telephone networks, data networks and cable shielding.   They are used in feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network (Internet) connections, digital audio (S/PDIF) and distributing cable television signals.   They are installed to support long distance connections between countries and cities. They are also used in data centers where large volume of data needs to be transmitted.  
Transmission Speed They transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively low speed when compared to fiber optical cable.   They transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively low speed when compared to fiber optical cable.   They transmit television, telephone and data at a relatively faster speed when compared to twisted pair and coaxial cable.  
Diameter They are larger in diameter than fiber optical cables.   They are larger in diameter than fiber optical cables.   They are small in diameter.  
Weight They are heavier in weight when compared to fiber optical cables.   They are heavier in weight when compared to fiber optical cables.   They are lighter in weight when compared to twisted pair and coaxial cables.  
Type Of Loss Occurring In The Cable Resistive loss, Dielectric loss, Radiated loss and Loss over time.   Resistive loss, Dielectric loss and Radiated loss.   Dispersion, bending, absorption and attenuation.