Shielding for Data/Ethernet Cables
When it comes to choosing your data cables, you are facing so many possibilities. Indeed, you will first need to choose the right category (by means of bandwidth and frequency), but you will also need to choose its shielding.
In order to help you choose the shielding for your data/Ethernet cable that matches your needs, we made a small guide below explaining the various shielding for data cables.
Understanding the Acronym
Every data/Ethernet cable shielding will be named following the same format: A/B TP.
- Where A defines the overall cable shield.
- Where B defines the twisted pairs shield.
Now that you understand the structure of the the acronym, you just have to know the following possibilities:
- U: stands for Unshielded.
- F: stands for Foil covering the twisted pairs.
- S: stands for Shielding in the form of a copper mesh or braid
- TP: stands for Twisted Pair.
Now for a quick explanation
Now that we understand the meaning behind the abbreviations for data/Ethernet cable shielding, let's dive in a little bit further.
U/UTP - Unshielded over Unshielded Twisted Pairs
F/UTP - Foil over Unshielded Twisted Pairs
These cables have an overall simple foil shield wrapped around all 4 twisted pairs.
The foil shield acts as a barrier preventing external EMI/RFI from interfering with the twisted pairs. It also prevents data signals from leaking out of the cable, making the cable more difficult to tap and better for secure installations.
S/UTP - Shield over Unshielded Twisted Pairs
U/FTP - Unshielded over Foiled Twisted Pairs
F/FTP - Foil over Foiled Twisted Pairs
SF/UTP - Shield & Foil over Unshielded Twisted Pairs
With this double shielding (Braid & Foil), this cable will be extremely resistant to external EMI/RFI. However, such cables come a certain price as they require a more elaborate manufacturing. These are often intended for mobile use as they are very flexible and durable.
Shielded or Unshielded
Like with everything, there are pros and cons, and it's the same for the shielding of your data/Ethernet cable. So the decision must be made depending on your requirement.
An unshielded cable is cheaper and easier to install. Note that a shielded cable will take more space in your conduit (as they will often have a larger diameter).
However, whether you go for a STP or UTP cable, spare no expense on the cable quality. A good cable will grant you more years of service, avoiding you replacement maintenance cost.