Alphabet Soup: Cat6A UTP vs. F/UTP

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cat6a-network-cabling-1When preparing to have network cabling installed for your business, the choices can be overwhelming. If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely already decided that you want to install Cat6A cabling which is a great choice suitable for most businesses. Unfortunately, you are not done yet. There is still one choice to make and that is to go with UTP or F/UTP. In this post, we’ll walk you through the differences as well as the pros and cons of each.

UTP stands for Unshielded Twisted Pair and it is the type of cabling most often installed in the United States. F/UTP stands for Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair. This type of cabling is very similar to the UTP cable, containing the exact same four twisted pairs on the interior but the exterior has a foil covering or shield. F/UTP is also called Foiled Twisted Pair (FTP), Screened Twisted Pair (ScTP), or Screened Unshielded Twisted Pair (S/UTP).

F/UTP is necessary in a “noisy” environment. If your office setting has a lot of Electro-Magnetic or Radio Frequency Interference, F/UTP cabling will help protect your network signal, reduce failures and increase reliability. Certain environments require the extra security and protection. For example, hospitals and healthcare facilities, many government buildings, casinos, and data centers often use Cat6A F/UTP cabling. If you are unsure which type of Cat 6A cabling you need, we can measure the EMI/RMI in your building and make a recommendation on your specific needs.

In other types of cable, the general rule had been that unshielded cable was usually smaller in diameter and easier to install. This is actually not the case with Cat6A cabling. Cat6A UTP has an average diameter of 0.354” whereas Cat6A F/UTP has an average diameter between 0.26” – 0.30”. That difference seems small but when you are running multiple cables, that difference adds up. As a result, F/UTP in the case of Cat6A cabling is actually easier to handle.

The Pros and Cons of Cat 6a UTP vs. F/UTP

  1. Shielding eliminates ANEXT and EMI/RFI problems and testing. (+1 F/UTP)
  2. Lighter cable provides higher port density. (+1 F/UTP)
  3. Smaller cable is easier to handle and reduces installation costs. (+1 F/UTP)
  4. Unshielded cable costs less than shielded. (+1 UTP)
  5. Next generation will require shielded components. (+1 F/UTP)

The upfront cost of Cat6A F/UTP cabling is slightly more than UTP but with increased reliability, reduced testing time, and the future proofing it provides, it’s likely that F/UTP could have an equal or lower lifetime cost.

To learn more about the differences between UTP and F/UTP or to get advice for your business needs, call us at (714) 617-4025, or contact us online for a 100% free, no obligations quote. Ring and Ping Communications has been Southern California’s leading expert in network cabling and business communications for businesses both big and small for the last 12 years and we look forward to helping you with your network cabling needs.