Unshielded twisted pair vs. shielded twisted pair
Which is right for you?
What IS UTP and STP?
Before we jump into the pros and cons of UTP vs. STP we should dig a little deeper into what shielded means.
In this instance the cable is shielded by a foil or a conductive shield, hence the name. This shield is meant to protect against conductive interference, that does not mean that the unshielded is also not protected it is just protected in a different way.
Which one Do i need for my use case
There are only a few specific cases where a STP is needed and that is usually to protect against high-level interference that can be from electromagnetic fields, power lines, and even radar systems. These are not your standard network situations, so STP cables are generally used in Network cabinets in these more unique situations.
Through the use of the a metallic foil, it is possible to cancel out the electromagnetic interference thoroughly to maintain faster data transfer speeds. For companies that need that security it is important to make sure that your network cabling is all STP standard otherwise there is the possibility of either throttled data speeds or even outages.
However, like everything if there are advantages, there are also disadvantages and in this case there are number of disadvantages:
Cost - the STP cables are noticeably more expensive in cost which can add up quickly.
Size - due to the foil in casing the cable size increases that's more space is needed when cabling your network.
Installation - a higher level of expertise is needed when installing the cables as the STP cables need to be grounded. if they are not grounded then the shield doesn't work and data transfer speed suffer or outages may occur.
Fragile - If the foil is compromised anywhere along the cable, the shielding is then rendered useless.
Mainly what are considered the disadvantages of the Shielded are the advantages of the unshielded.
For most networks, whether they be home or in an office, unshielded should be fit for purpose. They cancel out interference by being twisted, just as the shielded but at a way more precise level. So their advantages are:
Cost - cheaper than the STP.
Maintenance - As there is no foil to break and no grounding cable, there is less to break. This reduces the need to find a small tear in the foil.
Installation - No need for extra special care to be taken off the cables during installation.
Size - smaller and less sensitive makes it easier to squeeze them into tight spaces.
Ubiquity - Use in most situations so there are more common.
Really the only disadvantage that UTP have over STP is when they would be used in an environment not fit for purpose. Meaning that they would be used in a situation where there is a lot of electromagnetic noise.
To Sum up, if there is a lot of electromagnetic noise that needs to be cancelled, then go with the STP cables, otherwise the UTP cables should suit your needs just fine.
In either case, we have you covered
This is just the first in our series to help guide you on getting the right cables for your network cabinet we will continue with glass fiber multimode vs single mode and other General cabling questions.