How to Choose Between Coaxial Cable, Twisted Pair and Fiber Optic Cables?

As enterprises are striving for high reliability and performance as well as seamless data access and reporting, industrial networks are becoming more sophisticated. In terms of cabling solutions, it is essential to use the industrial Ethernet cable to achieve reliable performance. However, with so many fiber optics for sale, to select a right cable for broadband connection services is challenging. Coaxial cables and twisted pair or fiber optic cables are available for network connectivity. So which one is an ideal choice, coaxial cable or twisted pair cable? Is the fiber optic cable that fits your needs most? This article outlines the coaxial cable, twisted cable and fiber optic cables to help you select the right cable for your network.

Describing Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable, or coax cable, is a single wire usually copper wrapped in a foam insulation. Because of its insulating property, coaxial cable can carry analogy signals with a wide range of frequencies. Thus it is widely used in feedlines connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, computer network connections, digital audio (S/PDIF), and distributing cable television signals. Over time, the industry settled on two characteristic coaxial cable impedances for the vast majority of applications: 50 Ohm and 75 Ohm.

coaxial_cable

The above figure shows the internal structure of the coaxial cables. In the middle of the coaxial cable is what is known as the center conductor. It can be made of either solid or stranded wire and is typically a mix of Aluminum and Copper. Surrounding the center conductor is something called the dielectric. The dielectric acts as a buffer of sorts to keep the center conductor isolated and straight. It usually is comprised of some blend of plastic and/or foam. Finally, on the outside of the dielectric is the coaxial cable’s shield, which is usually a combination of Copper and Aluminum foil and/or wire braid. The shield is then coated by something like PVC to insulate it from the environment.

Twisted Pair Cable Overview

Twisted pair cable is a type of copper wiring in which two conductors of a single circuit are twisted together. The twisting feature can avoid noise from outside sources and crosstalk on multi-pair cables, so this cable is best suited for carrying signals. Generally it comes in two versions: Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). STP is commonly used in Token Ring networks and UTP in Ethernet networks. Besides STP and UTP cables, twisted pair cables can be alao found in Categories cable. For instance, Cat 6 twisted pair cables are used for 1000BASE-T and 10GBASE-T networks. The image below displays the STP and UTP cables.

stp-utp-cable

Finally Comes to Fiber Optic Cable

A fiber optic cable is a cable containing one or more optical fibers. Fiber optic cables often contain several silica cores, and each fiber can accommodate many wavelengths (or channels), allowing fiber to meet ever-increasing data capacity requirements. When terminated with LC/SC/ST/FC/MTRJ/MU/SMA connectors on both ends, fiber optic cables can achieve fiber link connection between equipment during fiber cabling. Nowadays, two types of fiber optic cables are widely adopted in the field of data transfer—single mode fiber optic cables and multimode fiber optic cables. Take LC to ST fiber cable for example, the LC to ST 10G OM4 multimode fiber cable (seen in the below image) is utilized for 10G short-reach applications, while the LC to ST single-mode fiber cable can be used for long-reach application.

lc-to-st-om4-fiber-cable

Comparison Between These Cables

When considering which kind of fiber cable is appropriate for network services, one thing you should keep in mind that each type of cable has its unique advantages and disadvantages concerning about these factors—cost, speed, security, reliability, bandwidth, data carrying-capacity, and so on.

Coaxial Cable can be installed easily, relatively resistant to interference. However, it is bulky and just ideal for short length because of its high attenuation. It would be expensive over long-distance data transmission. While Twisted Pair Cable is most flexible and cheapest among three kinds of cables, easy to install and operate. But it also encounters attenuation problem and offers relatively low bandwidth. In addition, it is susceptible to interference and noises.

As for fiber optic cables, it is treated as the most popular mediums for both new cabling installations and upgrades, including backbone, horizontal, and even desktop applications. Compared with the other two cables, fiber optic cable is small in size and light in weight, and the conductor is glass which means that no electricity can flow through. In addition, fiber cable is immune to electromagnetic interference. The biggest advantage of fiber optic cable is that it can transmit a big amount of data with low loss at high speeds over long distance. Nevertheless, it needs complicated installing skills, difficult to work with and expensive in the short run.

Conclusion

With all the features and disadvantages of the cables listed above, it is time for for you to make your won choice. Note that the cost of the cable is compared to the high costs of network failure, which can be thousands of dollars per minute. Therefore it is make sense to choose and install the right cable for your LAN network. FS.COM provides a full range of fiber optics including the cables, optical transceivers, patch panels, and fiber enclosures, etc. Other cables such as Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6A are also available for your copper networks. Welcome to visit FS.COM for more detailed information.

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