What are the Benefits of Using UTP vs STP Ethernet Cables

If you are a networking professional, you probably know how wide the range of ethernet cable specifications is and if you are new to the world of networking, brace for finding out the variations in ethernet cables.  In this article, we will look at one of the most important features of ethernet cables that most people find confusing. We will discuss the benefits of using Unshielded twisted pair cables and shielded twisted pair cables. But not only that, but you will also learn how to choose, and which cables to choose for your unique network requirements. Let's dive in.

Ethernet cable specifications

Before we dive deeply into the nuts and bolts of STP and UTP, let's briefly summarize the main specifications of ethernet cables that you should look for when buying these network cables.  Cable Jacket: If you are new to network cabling, you might consider the cable jacket unimportant, and probably say, ‘well what’s the jacket to do with the performance of the cable? ". But note that it is not just the cable performance you should be considering, the safety of your network is just as important as its performance.  And that’s why the jacket matters. It not only enhances the performance of the cable but also ensures the safety of your network and infrastructure. We suggest you always get the Plenum (CMP) jacket. It is the safest for all purposes.  Conductor: When you are buying ethernet cables, you will always have to choose between bare copper and copper-clad aluminum (CCA) conductors. These two are the most common conductors and are different depending on the performance and price.  CCA conductors are cheaper than their counterparts. And therefore perform not as good as bare copper. These conductors have an aluminum base with bare copper plating for better performance.  The bare/pure copper makes the conductor more ductile and long-lasting. However, aluminum is a little brittle and can break if twisted too hard. They can also overheat when used at optimum capacity. Bare copper conductors on the other hand are more resilient towards interferences and can easily handle twists and pull. You can use them in rain, sunlight, wind, and they will perform without wearing out. Reason: Copper is a corrosion-resistant element and it is better at handling high-performance conductivity.  Solid core vs Stranded: Solid core cables are made up of a single piece of conductor metal and stranded core cables have multiple braided cables which make the conductor. The braided strands are multiple but also thinner to match the size of the conductor.  There are two factors that are affected by these two different features. First, it affects the flexibility of the cable.  And second, it affects the data transfer of the cable Solid core cables are better at transmitting data over longer cable lengths and stranded core cables perform better at shorter lengths. Because more strands mean more surface area for conducting EMI, which ultimately reduces the performance of the cable with the increase in length. But the benefit of stranded cables is that they are more flexible and are therefore more ductile. Twisting stranded core cables is not a matter of worry.  STP Vs UTP: The last important feature to consider when buying network cables is STP and UTP. But before we delve into it, let’s briefly define twisted pair cables. Twisted pair cables, as the term implies, are cables that are twisted tightly in pairs. The ‘twists’ are important for resisting EMI and crosstalk. Now, let’s steer back to our original topic. Shielded cables have an extra layer of insulation around the conductors. It is usually made up of aluminum foil or a sheath of braided aluminum-stranded wires.  UTP cables, on the other hand, do not feature this specification. And they are more vulnerable to EMI and external noise. 

Benefits of Unshielded Twisted-pair Cables (UTP)

  • Flexible and easy to install
  • Affordable as compared to STP cables.

Benefits of Shielded Twisted Pair Cables (STP)

  • Highly resistant to crosstalk and electromagnetic interference.
  • Flexible and easy to install
  • An overall smaller diameter makes it easier to perform tricky maneuvers while cable runs.
  • Better performance in both indoor and outdoor setups. 
  • Long-lasting

Disadvantages of STP and UTP cables: The main or the only disadvantage of these cables is that STP cables will cost you a little more for the added feature. And UTP cables will entertain more crosstalk and EMI as compared to their counterparts.