Home/Product Knowledge/Fiber Optic Cable vs Twisted Pair Cable vs Coaxial Cable

Fiber Optic Cable vs Twisted Pair Cable vs Coaxial Cable

(Last Updated On: April 24, 2023)

We obtain different types of services by using various means of communication. The wired communication method is one of the most efficient and successful modes. Fiber optic cables, twisted pair cables, and coaxial cables are the three major types of network cables used in communication systems. Each of them is different and suitable for different applications.

Network cables are used in communication systems all over the world. Using the correct cables will ensure the optimal performance of your network. Therefore, whether to use coaxial cable, twisted pair cable, or fiber optic cable will depend on the communication system installed.

Each type of cable serves a different purpose, has specific advantages, and definitely has disadvantages if the wrong cable is installed. There are many factors to consider when selecting the correct cable for your network for optimal performance, including:

  • Environmental factors
  • Distance
  • Bandwidth
  • Transmission
  • Capacity

Since they both apply equally to network communication, how do they differ in features and specifications? What is the difference between performance and capacity for fiber optic cable, twisted pair cable, and coaxial cable?


Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable is a type of Ethernet cable, a very thin pure glass cable. Comparing the transmission capacity of fiber optic cable and twisted pair cable, the former is 26000 times higher than the latter. It works by total internal reflection, the fiber-optic cable that transmits data over long distances as pulses of light pass through a tiny glass tube.

Optical cables consist of a core, which carries the light signal, and a cladding, a layer of glass surrounding the core. The refractive index of the core is higher than that of the cladding, resulting in the total internal reflection within the core. Most optical fibers run in duplex pairs: one for transmission and the other for reception.

3 Fiber Optic Cable

There are two types of fiber optic cables: SMF and MMF, which stand for single-mode fiber and multimode fiber, respectively. The difference between single-mode fiber and multimode fiber is that multimode fiber has a larger core and can transmit multiple types of light and modes at the same time, while single-mode fiber can only transmit one mode. The most widely used single-mode optical cable is OS2 optical cable, and multimode optical cables include OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, and OM5. The maximum transmission distance of a multimode optical cable can reach several kilometers, and the maximum transmission distance in a 10G network can reach 550m. Click here for more information on fiber optic cables.

Twisted Pair Cable

Inside the twisted pair are two separate insulated wires that are twisted together and parallel to each other in a twisted pair. Twisted pairs prevent crosstalk from adjacent pairs. It is mainly used in telephony or modern Ethernet networks.

4 Twisted Pair Cable

Twisted pair wire is often used to help prevent signal interference. Today, twisted-pair Ethernet cables can be categorized as Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) and Shielded Twisted Pair (STP). UTP is commonly used in Ethernet installations, and STP cables have better noise immunity than UTP cables, so they are commonly used in various networks to avoid crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. The main difference between UTP and STP is that STP copper cables have an additional foil wrap, and the four pairs in STP cables are wrapped in an overall metal braid or foil. The twisted pair has a better bend radius, is easier to terminate, and offers more versatility when choosing a network topology.

Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable is often used by cable operators, telcos, and Internet providers to transmit data, and it is also used in voice and video data systems. Since its invention in the early 20th century, it has won a large number of markets with its reliable and accurate transmission advantages. With the development of science and technology, this technology has also moved from commercial to civilian use and is widely used in families.

Coaxial cables are designed to prevent EMI by surrounding insulation and a conductive shield to the inner conductor. The outer sheath is also an insulating layer. Electrical signals are transmitted through the center conductor. With the shielded structure, the coaxial cable can be connected between two devices, and the maximum link length becomes larger.

5 Coaxial Cable

Commonly used coaxial cable types are RG59 and RG6, which are most commonly used in residential applications. ”RG’ stood for radio guide in the early days of World War II, but it doesn’t have any real meaning now. Compared with RG6 coaxial cable, RG59 coaxial cable is thinner and has less shielding. RG6 coaxial cable has a heavier gauge and thicker insulation layer, so the shielding effect is better. Their applications are also different. RG59 is used for cable TV transmission and short cable links. RG6 coaxial cable is more used for digital video signals and satellite TV.

Comparison of Coaxial Cable vs Twisted Pair vs Fiber Cable

In addition to the structural differences between fiber optic cables twisted pair cables vs. coaxial cables, these three types of cables differ from each other in terms of cable performance and capacity.

7 Speed Bandwidth Distance

1. Speed, Bandwidth & Distance

Coaxial and twisted pair cables are copper or copper-based wires insulated with other materials. They both transmit television, telephone, and data using electrical signals. Optical cables, on the other hand, can transmit the same types of signals at wider bandwidths, at higher speeds, and at higher frequencies. It is made of a very thin, flexible glass or plastic tube.

6 Comparison of Coaxial Cable vs Twisted Pair vs Fiber Cable

2. Cable Price

Generally, fiber optic cable will be more expensive than copper cable because it has better performance. In practice, however, the prices of these three cables vary from supplier to supplier.

It can be seen from HOLIGHT that the price of optical cables of the same length is the lowest. But the total installed cost of fiber optic cables can also be high due to the use of other optical components, especially optical transceivers. Also, twisted pair cables with RJ45 connectors cost less than coaxial cables with BNC connectors.

3. Installation

While fiber optic cable offers great advantages in terms of bandwidth flexibility and reliability, it is not as widely used as coaxial or twisted pair cables. And fiber is more fragile and thinner than twisted-pair and coaxial cables, making it more careful to install, operate and maintain. Coaxial cables can travel greater distances than twisted pairs. However, coaxial cables are difficult to install and maintain due to the dielectric insulator around the copper core in the coaxial cable.


Through the introduction of this article, you should have enough understanding of these three cables. With its significant advantages, optical fiber will become the mainstream of future data transmission, while twisted pair and coaxial cables play a vital role in a large number of related fields due to their price advantages. HOLIGHT offers a high-quality variety of optical fibers. Contact HOLIGHT to upgrade your cabling system. If you still have any questions, you can contact sale@holightoptic.com.

Leave A Comment

fifteen + 9 =

Go to Top