Data Cable Types

By Lysis

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Data cables are used to transmit information between systems such as servers, personal computers and other hardware. There are three main types of data cables used to transmit data: twisted pair, coax and fiber optic cables. These three types of cables are used in different environments. These data cables have different characteristics that make them identifiable.

Twisted Pair

Twisted pair cables are used in telephony and computer networking. Most cable networks are wired using shielded twisted pair, which is a type of data cable that has a covering to eliminate the amount of signal degradation from other sources. Twisted pair gets its name from the twists in the wires that span throughout the cabling. The twists in the cables also help protect the data communications from signal degradation. Twisted pair cabling have a limit to how far they can stretch before the signal becomes corrupted. The average length for a twisted pair wire before signal degradation is 300 feet.


Coaxial (coax) cable is used in older computer networks. Coax cable was replaced by shielded twisted pair as a standard for computer networking. Coax is still used for cable networks to provide television communication data. Coax cable is a large, round cable with an inner core wire that transmits the data. Surrounding the core is an insulator and shield to protect the data communication signal. Surrounding these parts is the casing. Coax cabling requires a special connector called a BNC connector. Network cards for computers are purchased with these connectors to cable this type of network.

Fiber Optic

Fiber optic cable is the preferred option for fast data connections. Fiber is used by cable and telephony companies to provide fast connections to the Internet. Fiber optics uses light and glass as the mechanics for data communications. Fiber optic cable is very fragile due to the glass parts of the cable. Fiber optic cable is light weight, and it does not have the signal degradation problems that the other two data cables suffer. However, fiber optic networking is more expensive and requires special network cards and hardware to transmit the signal.