Difference Between Wired Pairs, Fiber Optics, Coaxial Cable & Satellite

By David Lipscomb

Multiple cable types are used to wire satellite television systems.
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Wired pairs, fiber optics, and coaxial cable are all transmission media designed to get a signal from point to point. Satellite television systems use all three to receive signals, transmit audio, and communicate with network decoders. Although all three cable types are common in most homes, there are differences among their functions as related to satellite television service.

Satellite Television

Satellite television uses twisted pair, coaxial, and fiber optic cables to interface with decoders. Satellite television works by receiving a signal broadcast from an orbiting satellite above the Earth. These signals are then collected at a roof or pole-mounted dish, and sent into the home.

Twisted Pair

Twisted-pair cables, commonly used in homes as Ethernet cables, are used to wire computer networks. Twisted-pair cables are comprised of three to six twisted pairs of wires, used for signal transmission. Satellite systems also use phone wire, which is another form of unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable. In the case of satellite television, Ethernet cables are employed to network-equipped decoders with computer networks, so that subscribers can view decoder details and make remote programming changes. Phone wires are needed in many cases when ordering premium pay-per-view content. This data is sent to the provider during the nightly data download for billing.

Fiber Optics

Fiber optic cables are often used for sending digital audio signals from satellite decoders to home theater receivers. Fiber optics consist of glass or plastic strands that carry transmitted light as the signal carrier. This is a noise-free data system, which is inexpensive to employ on home and commercial devices. Fiber optic cables enable the use of "surround sound" with satellite decoder boxes.

Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cables consist of a copper center conductor surrounded by multiple layers of shielding. This is the cable used to connect a satellite dish to a decoder. These cables are highly resistant to electromagnetic and radio interference, making them ideal for sending delicate low-level digital signals to satellite decoders.