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Difference between Twisted Pair Cable and Optical Fiber Cable

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Prerequisite – Types of Transmission Media 

Twisted Pair Cable: 

It is a type of wiring in which two conductors are twisted together to form a circuit for transmission purposes. It is formed by combining two separate insulated copper wires. Metallic conducting wire present in twisted pair cable is used in the transfer of data in the form of electric signals. Twisted pair cable is the cheapest cable available among all the cables used in Local Area Network. Twisted pair cables are commonly used in data networks and wire shielding. 

Twisted Pair Cable

Twisted Pair Cable

Advantages of Twisted Pair Cable:

  • Low Cost: Twisted Pair Cable is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of cables.
  • Flexibility: The cable is very flexible and easy to install, making it a popular choice for networking applications.
  • Familiarity: Twisted Pair Cable is a well-established technology that has been used in networking for many years.
  • Easy to Terminate: The cable is easy to terminate, making it easy to install and maintain.

Disadvantages of Twisted Pair Cable:

  • Limited Bandwidth: The cable has a limited bandwidth, which limits its transmission speed and data capacity.
  • Interference: Twisted Pair Cable is susceptible to electromagnetic interference, which can cause signal degradation and loss.
  • Limited Distance: The cable has limited transmission distance, which restricts its use in large networks.
  • Security: The cable is vulnerable to eavesdropping and interception, which can compromise the security of the network.

Optical Fiber Cable:

It is a category of guided media that is used for long-distance transmission and high-performance data networking. Optical fiber cable constitutes very thin glass fibers clustered in a single cable. In optical fiber cable, glass fiber helps in transmitting the signals in the form of pulses of light. Optical fiber cables are mostly used in long-distance networks and huge volume data centers. 

Optical Fiber Cable

Optical Fiber Cable


  • High bandwidth: Optical Fiber Cable has a high bandwidth, which makes it suitable for high-speed data transfer.
  • Long distance: Optical Fiber Cable can transmit data over long distances without any signal loss.
  • Secure: It is difficult to tap into an optical fiber cable, which makes it a secure option for data transmission.
  • Immunity to interference: Optical Fiber Cable is immune to electromagnetic interference.


  • Cost: Optical Fiber Cable is more expensive than other cables available in the market.
  • Installation: The installation of Optical Fiber Cable requires specialized equipment and knowledge, which can make it difficult to install.
  • Fragility: Optical Fiber Cable is fragile and can break easily, which can result in data loss.

 Here are some similarities between the two types of cables:

  • Both twisted pair and optical fiber cables can be used for data transmission over long distances.
  • Both types of cables are designed to minimize signal interference and distortion.
  • Both types of cables have different categories or types that offer varying levels of performance and data transfer rates.
  • Both cables use connectors to terminate the cable and connect to devices.
  • Both cables are commonly used in LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks) for transmitting data, voice, and video signals.
  • Both types of cables are available in various lengths, making it easy to choose a length that suits the specific requirements of the installation.
  • Both cables have their own specific requirements for installation, including handling, termination, and testing.
  • Both cables can be affected by environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and electromagnetic interference, which can affect signal quality.
  • Both cables can support multiple transmission protocols such as Ethernet, Token Ring, and ATM.

Difference between Twisted Pair Cable and Optical Fiber Cable

The difference between Twisted Pair Cable and Optical Fiber Cable are as follows:

S. No.Twisted Pair CableOptical Fiber Cable
1In a twisted pair cable, the transmission of signals takes place through the metallic conducting wire.In optical fiber cable, the transmission of signals happens via glass fiber.
2.It is composed of two insulated copper wires.The bundling of very thin optical fibers is enclosed in a single cable.
3.Twisted pair cable has a large diameter in comparison to optical fiber cable.Optical fiber cable has a small diameter as it is thin and flexible.
4.In twisted-pair cables, attenuation is very large.While in optical fiber cables, attenuation is very small.
5.Twisted pair cable is easy and simple to install and implement.The installation and implementation of optical fiber cables are extremely tough.
6.Twisted pair cables are used for wire shielding and data networks.Optical fiber cable is generally suited for long-distance networks among cities and countries.
7.Twisted pair cable is comparatively inexpensive.While optical fiber cable is expensive as it has great performance and capacity.
8.Transmission of the signal takes place in electrical form.Transmission of the signal takes place in optical form.
9.Twisted pair cable supports low bandwidth.Optical fiber cable supports very high bandwidth.
10.It can be affected by the external magnetic field.It cannot be affected by the external magnetic field.
11.It has low noise immunity.It has high noise immunity as compared to twisted pair cable.
12.Transmission of data at a relatively low speed.Transmission of data at fast speed.
13.Conduction and radiation-related power loss.Power loss as a result of bending, scattering, and dispersion.
14.There is no guarantee of the security of transmitted signal.The security is guaranteed of the transmitted signal.


  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) 
  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)  


  • Single mode fiber (SMF)  
  • Multimode fiber (MMF)

Type of loss that can occur-

  • Resistive loss
  • Radiated loss 
  • Dielectric loss
  • Loss over time.  

Type of loss that can occur-

  • Dispersion
  • Bending
  • Absorption 
  • Attenuation.  


The main differences between twisted pair cable and optical fiber cable are their conductor material, bandwidth, signal interference, distance, and cost. Twisted pair cable is a more affordable option with a limited bandwidth and distance and is susceptible to signal interference. On the other hand, optical fiber cable has a higher bandwidth, can transmit data over longer distances, is less susceptible to signal interference, but it is more expensive. The choice between twisted pair cable and optical fiber cable ultimately depends on the specific needs of the network and the resources available to the organization.

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Last Updated : 17 Mar, 2023
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