STP vs. UTP, Which One Is Better?

When you prepare to buy Ethernet cables, you have to choose between STP (shielded twisted pair) and UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cables. That’s really difficult to decide if you don’t have enough knowledge of these two kinds of cables. Do you want to know more? Read this article and you will find the answer.

Why Are There STP and UTP Cables?

In data communication, electromagnetic interference (EMI) exists in cables. EMI, also called radio frequency interference (FRI), is a disturbance. This disturbance is caused by an external source affecting an electrical circuit by electrostatic coupling, electromagnetic induction, or conduction. The external source can be natural or man-made. For example, the natural sources include the sun, thunder storms, etc., while the man-made sources are vehicle ignition systems, cell phones, etc. EMI may cause data error and influence the transmission quality of cabling systems. In consideration of decreasing or avoiding EMI, shielding is one of the methods applied to protect cabling systems.

What Are STP Cables?

STP cable has a shield inside which is composed of copper tape, a layer of conducting polymer or a braid (made of copper or aluminum mostly). There are different types of shielding, such as braided shield, foil and screening. That makes different levels of shielding, including STP, SSTP (screened shielded twisted pair), FTP (foil twisted pair). The shield can be applied to each one of the pairs in a cable or to all pairs together.

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Advantages of STP Cables

First, the shield of STP cables can reduce EMI. It’s good for increasing data transmission quality in buildings containing microwave equipment, HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) systems or radio transmitters. It blocks interference generated from devices such as power tools and vacuum cleaners. Although UTP cables are still able to reduce interference, their performance is not as good as STP cables.

Second, STP cables can reduce crosstalk with proper installation and maintenance. STP cables can resist signals from passing through the outer coating and entering nearby wires by accident because of the special cable constructure. STP cables are quite necessary for dealing with crosstalk especially when your building contains numerous network devices.

What Are UTP Cables?

UTP cables don’t have shielding to reduce interference. UTP cables reduce EMI through the way that the pairs are twisted inside the cable. Thus, UTP cables are lighter and thinner than STP cables.

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Advantages of UTP Cables

First, easier to install and maintain. UTP cables contain no shields and they are thinner than STP cables, which is easier for cable installation and maintenance, particularly in limited space. While the shields of STP cables are quite fragile and rigid. If the shield suffered damage, cabling systems are likely to be affected by interference. What’s worse, it’s not easy to be repaired and needs special handling.

Second, more flexible. UTP cables are comparatively lighter. On one side, it makes the installation, transport and maintenance work easier. On the other side, it makes UTP cables more suitable to be used in narrow space.

Third, fewer cost. UTP cables are cheaper than STP cables. So are the related hardware. Besides, as mentioned above, UTP cables are easy to install and maintain. You don’t have to spend too much money on maintenance since UTP cables don’t rely on an outer shield. So they are beneficial to save you investment on installation and maintenance.

Applications

Due to different characteristics, the two types of cables are used in different environment.

STP cables are often used in situations nearby equipment causing EMI. For example, airports, medical centers and factories have lots of machines that can produce interference, so STP cables are typically applied. STP cables are also useful when cables must be run next to fluorescent lights, microwave ovens or powerful motors. What’s more, STP cables can be used in outdoor settings. Some people connect outdoor surveillance cameras to STP wiring. In that way, the video feed can avoid the interference generated by vehicles and power lines. And it can stop criminals from using jammers to interrupt communications between cameras and indoor monitors or recording equipment.

UTP cables are suitable to be used in offices and homes. They are less expensive than STP cables. So if the interference or crosstalk is not your main concern, you are suggested to choose UTP cables for saving you cabling cost. Remember not to select UTP cables if your place is full of powerful magnetic fields which can slow down the network speed or cause the network failure. Therefore, you’d better carefully evaluate the potential sources of interference.

Conclusion

Choosing the right cable can improve your network performance and extend the life span of your equipment. Before making the decision, it’s important to get well known of STP and UTP cables. You must know exactly each one’s advantages and application areas. If you need better anti-interference capabilities, you can select STP cables. If you put cost as the first factor, you may choose UTP cables. For both kinds of cables, you can find in FS.COM. Any question, please contact us via sales@fs.com.

Originally published at http://www.fiber-optic-equipment.com

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