Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable

What Does Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable Mean?

Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables are widely used in the computer and telecommunications industry as Ethernet cables and telephone wires.


In an UTP cable, conductors which form a single circuit are twisted around each other in order to cancel out electromagnetic interference (EMI) from external sources. Unshielded means no additional shielding like meshes or aluminum foil, which add bulk, are used.
UTP cables are often groups of twisted pairs grouped together with color coded insulators, the number of which depends on the purpose.

Techopedia Explains Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable

An UTP cable is made up of a bundle of twisted pairs. The twisted pairs are small 22- or 24- American Wire Gauge (AWG) sized wires twisted around each other.

The wires are typically made of copper with polyethylene (PE) or FEP insulation which is color coded depending on the application of the cable being made.

For instance, AT&T pioneered the 25-pair color code UTP cable for indoor telephone applications with color-pairs like white-blue, blue-white, white-orange, orange-white and others.

The bundle is often covered with a PE jacket typically colored grey. The two wires carry equal yet opposite signals and the destination of the signal detects the difference between the two.

They are typically used in computer networking such as Ethernet for short-to-medium distances because of their relatively cheap price compared to optical fiber and coaxial cables.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.