Over the past decade voice and data cabling requirements have merged and today, cabling infrastructures are able to support voice, data and video applications on a single cable type.
The cable media used within the infrastructure reflects the network topology, protocol and size. Understanding the characteristics of different cable media and how they relate to other aspects of the network is necessary for the development of a successful infrastructure.
Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and shielded twisted pair (STP) are the preferred media in the UK with at least 85% of structured cabling installations being UTP. Twisted pair cables are more cost effective and flexible than system specific cabling such as Coax, Twinax and other non-generic cable types.
- Shielded Twisted Pair (STP). Susceptible to radio and electric frequency interference. This can be overcome with additional shielding however this can be bulky.
- Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). Smaller, more flexible and less expensive than Shielded Twisted Pair.
- Fibre Optic. Ideal for environments with a large amount of electrical interference and for connecting buildings as it is resistant to the effects of moisture and lighting. Transmission is faster and can cover longer distances than coaxial and twisted pair cables. Although more difficult to install and modify than copper cabling it is comparable by cost.
- Coaxial. A single copper conductor at the core. Difficult to install although highly resistant to signal interference.