fiber optic cables

Data Cables Explained

There are three main types of data cables: Coaxial cable, Fiber Optic cable, and Twisted Pair. If you are not an IT professional, it can be difficult to understand which type of cable needs to be used for your project. There are a lot of factors that go into which type of cable you need to use including the distance that the cable will be ran, the data transfer speeds you require, and the environment that the cable will live in.

Coaxial Cable

Three Types of Data Cables


Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cables are generally used for television or telephone communication data transmission to residences. While they can be used for a commercial network, it is much more common to find them used for residential projects. There are many different types of coaxial cable, but they generally consist of a central core conductor (copper wire), a dielectric insulator, a metallic shield, and a plastic jacket to protect it.

Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber Optic cable is used for fast internet connections. They are long, thin, strands of carefully drawn glass (about the diameter of a human hair) that are bundled together to create an optical cable. These cables transmit light particles that are encoded with data. Fiber optic cables are used to transmit communication and video signals. They are used in both commercial networks and in residential neighborhoods where there are a lot of internet users. There are multiple types of fiber optic cables, to learn more about them, check out this blog.

Twisted Pair

Twisted pair cables are most often used in telecommunications and computer networks. Meaning you will mostly find them in commercial businesses with a larger network infrastructure. They consist of two separate insulated wires that are twisted together and run parallel to each other. The reason for this is to reduce interference as data travels through the cable. As our networks become larger and more complex, the risk of interference grows. For local area networks, this type of cable is the most common.


Network Cabling Options

Twisted Pair Cable


There are many different grades of cable that can be used in your network. They come with their own advantages (and disadvantages) depending on what your environment looks like.


Cat5e is the cheapest cable type for networking. It allows speeds of 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) for up to 100M distance. It is cost-effective and works well for laptops, PCs, and printers. However, this cable will not be suitable for longer distances.


Cat6 cables are a step up from Cat5e. They are a higher quality option with a thicker copper core reducing interference and improving bandwidth. This type of cable can provide 1 Gbps for up to 100M, and 10 Gbps for up to 55M.


Cat6a (Cat6 Augmented) is much thicker, heavier, and more expensive than the previous cables. They offer 10Gbps for up to 100M. This type of cable is often chosen because it is considered a “future-proof” cable.

Fiber Optic CableFiber Optic

Fiber optic cabling is used anywhere that copper cables will not be sufficient. There are multiple reasons that copper cabling will not be sufficient:

  • The cable needs to run over 100M
  • Very high speeds are required
  • Very high bandwidth is required
  • Interference from metal-based cables is an issue

Fiber optic cabling is capable of transmitting data further, faster, and with less interference. It can be (and is frequently) used alongside copper cabling.

As you can see, there are many types of cables on the market today. Every network environment is different, and every business has unique requirements. We specialize in low-voltage cabling and can assist you with projects of any size. Our RCDDs are here to help you create the most efficient network infrastructure possible.

If you have any questions about low-voltage cabling, reach out to us at or call 763-475-5500.

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