ethernet cables: shielded vs unshielded cables

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What is the difference between UTP and FTP cable? Shielded vs Unshielded Cables

The key anyone not familiar with the cables is to not become overwhelmed. Each cable has a job and environmental condition that it has been created. The following is a breakdown guide to help ensure that regardless the technical background the remaining pages and blogs will be easier to comprehend. The longer that the viewer is exposed the easier they are to understand. Fruitycables is here to help, to be a guide, to help you get along, once ready, the staff on site will be standing by should you need direct assistance.

Think about it like when you learned to write your name or ride a bike, most do not walk up to the task and master it the first try. It took planning, practice and studying, plus you had a pro to help you along the way. Working with cables and wiring is very similar. The basics are the best place to begin.

Types of Cables

The Twisted Pair Cable Shielding Chart will help the types of cables make perfect sense. This chart is referring to two wires twisted together creating a wire partnership or twisted pair that is simply known as “TP”. Looking at the chart it should be noticed that both the old name and new name columns have “TP’ in them.

The letter before the backslash “/” is the letter that will determine it outer shield (or covering option). After the backslash, “/” tells us the shield variety around the Twisted Pair (TP).

Unshielded Cables

Unshielded cables are known by the “U” in the name. The unshielded cable option is also known as a UTP (unshielded twisted pair).

  • The least expensive of the cable options
  • Often found within computer shops
  • Primarily uses include: Ethernet, computer networking, telephone
  • Larger market due to it being in place more frequently than FTP
  • More prone to noise
  • Seen more often in video surveillance and applications

Shielded Cables

Looking at the chart above once again the letters “F”, “Sc”, and “SF” are found in the two name columns as well. These stand for the following. The image here shows an FTP or a Foil Wrapped Twisted Pair also inside of PVC tubing.

F = Foil AKA FTP

  • For 100% coverage foil is the form to utilize. The foil is going to be your go-to cable for covering a wider range of frequencies, but it will reject less interface.
  • Foil is not as effective as a braid but offers more flexibility and is a connector friendlier option over the others
  • Offers installation that is not found with the UTP
  • Best to use when a chance of interference or heavy noise is adjacent to the wiring
  • Foil require special grounding thus showing its Kryptonite or disadvantage
  • Factory settings are ideal for this wiring and rely upon the cancellation effect

Sc = Braiding or Screening

The second type is the metal braids that provide 40-95%coverage, primarily due to the braid holes. This is the go-to cable for lower frequencies usage.

SF = Screening or braiding AND Foil

Foil and screening often work very well together and pair up for the optimal cable usage and need to be completed

Twisted Pair Cable Shielding Chart

Take another look at the chart. It should be a bit easier to understand even if you had never before seen anything like it.


To recap the difference between shielded and unshielded cables is the appearance or lack of appearance of an outer secondary coating to further protect the twisted pairs.

There are many differences between a UTP and an FTP. UTP’s are cheaper to run and repair, tend to be found as preexisting more often, the most common type of Ethernet and found more residentially.

FTP’s covers a wider range, requires extra special care as well as grounding, seen most often in factory settings, is not as effective as the braid but is more flexible than the braid.