There is a vast variety of cable types. Different cables are designed for different uses and purposes. Twisted pair cables and braided cables (also referred to as coaxial cables) are both used to create a basic connection for network cabling. The data transmitted between computers connected to a wired network travels through network cables. This data, or information, is passed through cables to networks’ nodes through connectors, and every type of cable is designed specifically to support the integrity for data transmission and reduce any possible data interference. The different cables are designed to achieve the same objective in different ways. Let’s take a look at twisted pair cable vs. braided cable to understand the differences between these cables and how they are each used in a network.
A network may be designed with a combination of both twisted pair cables and braided cables in different sections on it. Each of these two cables has specific properties that will make it best suited for different conditions. For example, the size of a network (number of devices connected to the network and/or the distance over which the network extends) will influence the cable type selection per project.
Braided / Coaxial Cable
Braided cables are coaxial cables. They are constructed of four internal layers including an inner conductor at the core. The inner conductor is covered by a dielectric insulator layer, above which a second conductive layer made of braided wires covers the inner insulation layer. Over the braiding is a thin insulating outer layer.
The signal transfer in braided cables goes both ways. The inner conductor transfers signal one way serving as the forward circuit, while the braided conductive layer allows signal to travel the opposite direction, acting as the return circuit.
One of the braided cable’s advantages over other cable types of radio transmission lines is that it can be installed next to metal objects without power loss, that occur in other types of transmission lines. Another advantage is that braided cable provides signal protection from external electromagnetic interference.
Typically, braided cables are less expensive than twisted pair cables. Braided cables are widely used for cable television services and video connections, but are no longer widely used in computer networks.
Twisted pair cable is a cable type used for telecommunications. Its name comes from the twisted pairs of insulated wire inside the cable. Twisted pair cables are available in shielded and unshielded forms. Unshielded twisted pair cable (UTP) is the less expensive of the two, but due to the lack of a shield, it is also more susceptible to interference from electronic devices in its vicinity.
All category cables are twisted pair, but not all twisted pair cables are category cables. In other words, some twisted pair cables will be of another type.
Braided / coaxial cables need BNC connectors in order to be connected to a network; those connectors may be male/female connectors or T connectors. Twisted pair cables use RJ connectors such as RJ45 for Ethernet networks, and RJ11 for telephone cables.
Both twisted pair cable and braided / coaxial cable are vulnerable to signal interference. Due to its standard design, braided cable varies but a bit in its susceptibility to interference. On the other hand, twisted pair cable’s resistance to interference depends on the twisting scheme to remain in place, and so may vary.