Common Types of Network Cabling

Unshielded twisted pair cables, 22-24 gauge (UTP)

Advantages -- Inexpensive, may be in place in some places; familiar and simple to install.

Disadvantages -- Subject to interference, both internal and external; limited bandwidth, which translates into slower transmissions. Somewhat vulnerable to security breaches; may become obsolete quickly because of new technologies.

Shielded twisted pair cables, 22-24 (STP)

Advantages -- Easy installation; reasonable cost; resistance to interference; better electrical characteristics than unshielded cables; better data security; easily terminated with modular connector.

Disadvantages -- May become obsolete due to technical advances; can be tapped, breaching security.

Coaxial cables

Advantages -- Familiar and fairly easy to install; better electrical characteristics (lower attenuation and great bandwidth than shielded or unshielded cables; highly resistant to interference; generally good data security; easy to connect.

Disadvantages -- May become obsolete due to technological advances; can be tapped, breaching security.

Optical fiber cables

Advantages -- Top performance; excellent bandwidth ( high in the gigabit range, and theoretically higher); very long life span; excellent security; allows for very high rates of data transmission; causes no interference and is not subject to electromagnetic interference; smaller and lighter than other cable types.

Disadvantages -- Slightly higher installed cost than twisted -pair cables.