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UTP vs. STP Cabling: Which is Better for Your Business?

Cabling is the core of how data is transmitted. Twisted pair cables are among the most common cabling types installed in businesses nationwide.

A twisted pair cable is essentially no more than two insulated copper wires twisted together inside a wrapping shield. These cables run in parallel with each other to reduce electromagnetic induction.

Designing your office’s network system means knowing the difference between UTP and STP, the two subdivisions of twisted pair cable. Let’s discuss UTP vs. STP cabling and the pros and cons of each.

UTP vs. STP Cabling: What’s the Difference?

Although UTP and STP cables are classified as twisted pair cables, substantial differences exist between the two.

First, Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables are unshielded and mainly used in telecommunications and IT departments. UTP’s frequency range makes it suitable for transmitting data and voice. Physically, UTP cables are insulated copper wires twisted together with no shielding, such as aluminum foil.

The primary difference is that UTP requires far less maintenance and comes at a lower cost, making it the ideal choice for smaller businesses.

On the other hand, Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) cabling is often viewed as the gold standard. These cables are the same twisted copper wires, but they’re protected by either a copper braid jacket or extra wrapping foil. STP cables are more adept at blocking interference and preventing physical damage that leads to bandwidth loss.

Business owners thinking about UTP/STP cables should prioritize STP if they require higher data transmission rates over longer distances. The added protection prevents damage and stops electromagnetic noise from penetrating.

Since STP cables are a superior product, they cost more to run and require more maintenance to keep them in prime condition.

Note that there are also different categories of twisted pair cabling. For example, you may need to compare STP vs. UTP Cat. 6 cables if you’re trying to build your network on a budget.


Unshielded twisted pair cables are the most common networking cable on the market. Most residential and office-based Internet users will use UTP for faster Internet speeds, as it’s quicker than standard copper wiring.

Due to its ease of installation and 100-meter maximum limit, UTP is best served for smaller networks and home Internet use. Larger businesses and commercial facilities will likely find UTP cabling solutions unable to fulfill their needs.


  • Affordability – When comparing UTP vs. STP cable, UTP is by far the cheapest option. Home Internet packages cost much less than packages designed for extensive commercial facilities.

  • Easy Installation – UTP cables are small, making them faster and cheaper to install.

  • Transmission – UTP cable is suitable for transmitting data and voice while being designed to reduce EMI, RFI, and crosstalk.


  • Short Distance – UTP’s primary limitation is its range. Length segments extend up to 100 meters only.

  • Limited Bandwidth – Businesses often need greater bandwidths to maintain connection stability and speed. UTP has a strict cap on data transmission, meaning commercial operations could be slower than needed.

  • Security – With security such a massive factor in modern business, UTP is unsuited to this new environment because it cannot provide secure connections for data transmission.


In the debate over UTP vs. STP cabling, the benchmark for a reliable, high-quality network is the shielded twisted pair cable.

The difference in construction may seem small, with the primary variance being a protective wrapping or shield around the cable, but it makes a massive difference in performance.

These cables are thicker and are installed underground for added protection and longer distances. The installation of the shield means it’s optimized for connecting enterprises over long distances.


  • Lower Noise/Attenuation – Lack of grounding can create noise via electromagnetic fields, which can interfere with activities taking place on the network. When comparing STP and UTP, the grounded nature of STP means less noise, external interference, and crosstalk.

  • Resiliency – Harsh weather and natural disasters threaten the integrity of your cabling. The addition of plastic covering protects the STP cable from damage.

  • Better Performance – STP cables deliver faster data transmission rates and much higher maximum bandwidth limits, enabling larger organizations to avoid slowdowns and unexpected downtime.

  • No Distance Limitations – Unlike UTP cables limited to 100-meter segments, STP cabling was developed with high-performance, long-distance networks in mind.


  • Expensive – STP cabling is pricier than UTP because the cables need to be installed underground. The added time and resources can make STP cables a sizeable investment. The larger thickness also makes this cabling unsuitable for narrow ducts.

  • Maintenance – Maintenance issues can also become a concern when comparing shielded twisted pair vs. unshielded cabling. Due to their location underground, maintenance is more complex and costly.

  • Grounding – The shield surrounding these cables must be grounded correctly during installation. Failure to do so can leave your cabling performing like an antenna, causing it to pick up unwanted signals.

UTP vs. STP Cabling: Which is Right for Your Business?

Once you’ve compared your unshielded twisted pair vs. shielded twisted pair cabling options, how do you know what’s right for your business?

Examine the primary applications for each type of cabling. STP cabling is typically found within airports, hospitals, sprawling commercial enterprises, and government departments. The need for higher data transmission rates, security, and long-distance connectivity makes STP the best option.

On the other hand, most smaller offices and residential homes contain UTP cabling because of its relative affordability and adequate performance. The cost and complexity of STP wiring systems make the trade-off unnecessary for most businesses.

Unless you’re cabling a large factory or particularly worried about interference due to the proximity of fluorescent lighting, UTP cabling is likely sufficient for your network infrastructure.

Trust Signal Solutions with Your Cabling Needs

Determining which cabling solution is right for your network requires a cabling expert. Get the expertise to help you decide between UTP vs. STP and begin installing your comprehensive cabling system in your facility.

If you’re looking into structured cabling in San Francisco, choose to partner with the data transport solutions provider supporting businesses in California since 1987.

To learn more about different cabling options, contact Signal Solutions. Schedule your consultation now!

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