What’s Inside the Wires? Unraveling the Secrets of Guided Media  


First, we define what media is. Media is a way in which communication takes place. There are two types of media, which are wire and wireless. In this article, we are going to focus on guided media. So, guided media is a way in networking devices to exchange data or information through wires. Another term for guided media is used as physical media or wired media. The wires directly connected the devices. Moreover, The devices used in wired media are fixed and can’t move from one place to another place.

Types of Guided Media

There are three main types of guided media

  1. Twisted pair cable     
  2. Coaxial Cable                
  3. Fiber Optics Cable

The details of these cables are below:

1) Twisted Pair Cable

Twisted pair cable consists of 8 conducting copper wires or 4 copper pairs, twisted each pair together. Plastic insulates each wire. Twisted pair cables are of two types.  The first one is UTP and the second one is STP.

  1. UTP cable

UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair cable. It doesn’t require a grounding cable, and its data rate is slower than STP. It is normally low-cost and doesn’t require maintenance. Similarly, the noise ratio is high in the UTP cable.

  • STP cable

STP is the abbreviation for shielded twisted pair. It requires a grounding cable. Moreover, it is more expensive and requires more maintenance than UTP. Also, it has low noise.

Difference between UTP and STP cable

Grounding cableIt doesn’t requires ground cableSTP requires grounding cable
SpeedSlower data transfer rateData transfer is fast
CostLow costHigh cost
MaintenanceMaintenance is not requiredMore maintenance is required
NoiseHigh noiseLow noise
UTP and STP difference

Advantages of Twisted pair cable

  1. Twisted pair cable is the least expensive for short distances.
  2. The entire network doesn’t down if a part of the network is damaged.
  3. Both analog and digital transmissions use this cable for communication.

Disadvantages of Twisted pair cable

  1. Signals can’t travel for long distances without repeaters.
  2. Very thin and break easily.

Usage of Twisted pair cable

Widely used in telephone and computer networks.

2) Coaxial Cable

We also call it coax cable. Its frequency is greater than that of twisted pair cable. The coax contains a central conducting wire, the inner core or inner conductor. Three layers surround the inner core, protecting it from external interference.

The famous LAN technologies, 10Base2 and 10Base5, comprise coaxial cables. The length of 10Base2 is 185 meters, while the length of 10Base5 is 500 meters. Moreover, both standards provide 10 Mbps speed. The 10Base2 is called thinnet, while the 10Base5 is called thicknet. Both cables use the BNC connector type.

Usage of Coaxial cable

  • The coaxial cable serves as a transmitter for radio frequency signals.
  • TV and Cable networks use it.
  • Moreover, computer networks also use it.

Types of Coaxial Cable

  1. Hard-Line coaxial cable
  2. RG-6 Coaxial cable
  3. Semi-Rigid coaxial cable
  4. Tri-axial cable
  5. Twin-axial cable

Coaxial Cable Connectors

  1. F Connectors
  2. BNC connector
  3. RCA connector
  4. Mini coax connectors
  5. Popular coaxial connectors.

3) Fiber Optics Cable

Fiber optics is the combination of two words: fiber and optics. Fiber is a material made from natural or artificial threads, while optics means the scientific study of light.
Fiber optics is made of glass or plastic and transfers data from source to destination in the form of light. The fiber optic cable consists of a glass tube in which data travels in the form of light. The fiber optic cable uses the well-known phenomenon of “Total Internal Reflection” in science. It is flexible because users can bend it to some extent.

Fiber Optics Cable components

Core: The core, or fiberglass, is in the center of the fiber optic cable. Light passes through this core, making communication possible.

Cladding: When another material is coated on another material or skin, this is called cladding. The purpose of cladding is to protect light from crossing the core. It promotes total internal reflection.

The other three layers, buffer, strengthener, and outer jacket, provide strength to the cable and protect the internal layers of cladding and core. These outer three layers make fiber optic cable easy to install and manage.

Types of Fiber cable

i). Single Mode fiber              

ii). Multi-Mode Fiber

  1. Single Mode Fiber

The fiber core contains a singular light source.

  1. Multi-Mode Fiber

There are multiple sources of optics passing through the fiber core. Single-mode fiber installation and price is higher than multimode fiber

Single mode vs Multimode Fiber

Transmitters and receivers at both ends of the fiber optic cable transmit and receive light beams in a computer network.

Fiber SFP/SFP+

Switches must support fiber optics when using fiber optics in a computer network. For this purpose, there should be SFP/SFP+ transceiver ports.
SFP stands for small form-factor pluggable transceiver. It is a type of plug that handles transmission and receiving. SFP is also a hot-pluggable network interface module that does not require the switch to be turned off when removing the plug. It is used in both telecommunication and data communication. Computer users can add or plug these ports into the modular switch, or they may be built in.

Different Fiber comparison

Why do we use fiber optics?

  • The main factors for using fiber optic cable are its distance, interference (EMI), and security.
  • We use fiber optics when the distance between two computers exceeds 100 meters.
  • The second reason we use fiber optic is due to interference (Electromagnetic interference).
  • The third reason we use fiber optic is its protection against data leakage. There is no data breach in the fiber optic cable.

Comparison between Ethernet cable and fiber optic cable

S.NoCriteriaUTPMultimodeSingle Mode
1Relative cost of cableLowMediumMedium
2Relative cost of a switch portLowMediumHigh
3Approximate max distance100m500 m400 km
4Relative susceptibility to interfaceSomeNoneNone
5Relative risk of copying from cable emissionsSomeNoneNone
Comparison of Ethernet and Fiber Optic Cable

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