If you have ever purchased ethernet cables or planning to purchase now, you have probably come across the term “shielded ethernet cable”. Do you know what exactly that is? If not, this article is for you.
We will discuss what a shielded cable is, its types, and which one you need for your unique network requirements. Let’s dive in.
What is a Shielded cable?
If a cable is shielded, it means that the conductors are wrapped in a metal sheath to keep electromagnetic interference and crosstalk from interfering with the signal flow.
For instance, the four conductor pairs of cat6 shielded cable are protected from EMI and crosstalk with an aluminum foil or a braided sheath of a conducting metal – tin or aluminum mostly.
Shielding in ethernet cables functions by conducting the interference and directing it away from the conductors of the cables. It is made out of tin foil, aluminum foil, or a braided sheath of these metals.
Unshielded cables do not feature such an extra layer of protection from interference. The primary insulations in these cables are the cable jacket and the conductor jacket.
As a result, their performance is not as good as the performance of the shielded ones.
F/UTP vs U/FTP
There is a nuanced difference between foiled unshielded twisted pair cables (F/UTP) and unshielded foiled twisted-pair cables (U/FTP).
F/UTP cables have a shielding material wrapped around the overall core of the twisted pair cable. On the other hand, U/FTP cables have shielding on the individual conductor cores.
Simply put, U/FTP cables are the truly shielded twisted pair cables.
Why use shielded ethernet network cables?
Use shielded ethernet cables if you have a busy industrial or office network.
The reason is that high-cable density networks naturally suffer from high interference. And the solution to that problem is to buy ethernet cables with shielding.
Your business operations will become faster and more reliable, ultimately helping your business grow, or flourish – for that matter.
For instance, you can have a better ethernet connection by using Cat6 shielded cables than by using unshielded Cat6a cables.
In short, the following are the benefits of using shielded ethernet cables:
- Reduced EMI and Crosstalk
- Less noise radiation
- Better protection from fire hazards.
Types of shielded ethernet cables
Category 5e and above ethernet cables are available in both shielded and unshielded variants. Categories that were introduced before Cat5e do not feature this specification. Following is the list of ethernet cables that are available with shielding.
Which one do you need?
You now know about shielded and unshielded twisted-pair cables, their types, how they function, etc. Now let’s figure out which one you need for your specific needs.
For business applications, shielded Cat6 and Cat6a are the cables you should get. These cables support high-speed ethernet applications such as PoE, PoE++, fast-ethernet, gigabit ethernet, and 10 G ethernet.
For domestic or small-scale business applications, you can make do with a Cat5e cable. But we recommend getting a cat6 because the price difference is minor and the return is great. It will last longer while supporting high-performance applications.
In any case, choosing the right cable depends on the type of network you have or looking to establish. So, recognize your needs, the applications that you will use, and then make the decision accordingly.
Where to buy it?
If the cable complies with the legal and industry standards for performance and safety, it doesn’t really matter where you buy from. Therefore, always make sure that the cable you are getting follows the standards such as EIA/TIA, UL, ETL, IEEE, RoHS, etc.
This article has hopefully answered all your questions regarding shielded ethernet cables.