# Twisted pair

Twisted pair cabling is a form of wiring in which two conductors (the forward and return conductors of a single circuit) are twisted together for the purposes of canceling out electromagnetic interference (EMI) from external sources; for instance, electromagnetic radiation from unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables, and crosstalk between neighboring pairs.

## Explanation

In balanced pair operation, the two wires carry equal and opposite signals and the destination detects the difference between the two. This is known as differential mode transmission. Noise sources introduce signals into the wires by coupling of electric or magnetic fields and tend to couple to both wires equally. The noise thus produces a common-mode signal which is cancelled at the receiver when the difference signal is taken. This method starts to fail when the noise source is close to the signal wires; the closer wire will couple with the noise more strongly and the common-mode rejection of the receiver will fail to eliminate it. This problem is especially apparent in telecommunication cables where pairs in the same cable lie next to each other for many miles. One pair can induce crosstalk in another and it is additive along the length of the cable. Twisting the pairs counters this effect as on each half twist the wire nearest to the noise-source is exchanged. Providing the interfering source remains uniform, or nearly so, over the distance of a single twist, the induced noise will remain common-mode. Differential signaling also reduces electromagnetic radiation from the cable, along with the attenuation that it causes.

The twist rate (also called pitch of the twist, usually defined in twists per meter) makes up part of the specification for a given type of cable. Where nearby pairs have equal twist rates, the same conductors of the different pairs may repeatedly lie next to each other, partially undoing the benefits of differential mode. For this reason it is commonly specified that, at least for cables containing small numbers of pairs, the twist rates must differ.

In contrast to FTP (foiled twisted pair) and STP (shielded twisted pair) cabling, UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cable is not surrounded by any shielding. It is the primary wire type for telephone usage and is very common for computer networking, especially as patch cables or temporary network connections due to the high flexibility of the cables.

## History

Wire transposition on top of pole

The earliest telephones used telegraph lines, or open-wire single-wire earth return circuits. In the 1880s electric trams were installed in many cities, which induced noise into these circuits. Lawsuits being unavailing, the telephone companies converted to balanced circuits, which had the incidental benefit of decreasing attenuation, hence increasing range.

As electrical power distribution became more commonplace, this measure proved inadequate. Two wires, strung on either side of cross bars on utility poles, shared the route with electrical power lines. Within a few years the growing use of electricity again brought an increase of interference, so engineers devised a method called wire transposition, to cancel out the interference. In wire transposition, the wires exchange position once every several poles. In this way, the two wires would receive similar EMI from power lines. This represented an early implementation of twisting, with a twist rate of about four twists per kilometre, or six per mile. Such open-wire balanced lines with periodic transpositions survived into the 21st century in some rural areas.

## Unshielded twisted pair (UTP)

Unshielded twisted pair

Twisted pair cables were first used in telephone systems by Alexander Graham Bell in 1881. By 1900, the entire American telephone line network was either twisted pair or open wire with similar arrangements to guard against interference. Today, most of the millions of kilometres of twisted pairs in the world are outdoor landlines, owned by telephone companies, used for voice service, and only handled or even seen by telephone workers.

UTP cables are found in many ethernet networks and telephone systems. For indoor telephone applications, UTP is often grouped into sets of 25 pairs according to a standard 25-pair color code originally developed by AT&T. A typical subset of these colors (white/blue, blue/white, white/orange, orange/white) shows up in most UTP cables.

For urban outdoor telephone cables containing hundreds or thousands of pairs, the cable is divided into smaller but identical bundles. Each bundle consists of twisted pairs that have different twist rates. The bundles are in turn twisted together to make up the cable. Pairs having the same twist rate within the cable can still experience some degree of crosstalk. Wire pairs are selected carefully to minimize crosstalk within a large cable.

Unshielded twisted pair cable with different twist rates

UTP cable is also the most common cable used in computer networking. Ethernet, the most common data networking standard, utilizes UTP cables. Twisted pair cabling is often used in data networks for short and medium length connections because of its relatively lower costs compared to optical fiber and coaxial cable.

UTP is also finding increasing use in video applications, primarily in security cameras. Many middle to high-end cameras include a UTP output with setscrew terminals. This is made possible by the fact that UTP cable bandwidth has improved to match the baseband of television signals. While the video recorder most likely still has unbalanced BNC connectors for standard coaxial cable, a balun is used to convert from 100-ohm balanced UTP to 75-ohm unbalanced. A balun can also be used at the camera end for ones without a UTP output. Only one pair is necessary for each video signal.

## Cable shielding

S/UTP cable format
S/UTP, also known as FTP
S/STP, also known as S/FTP.
STP cable format
S/STP cable format

Twisted pair cables are often shielded in attempt to prevent electromagnetic interference. Because the shielding is made of metal, it may also serve as a ground. However, usually a shielded or a screened twisted pair cable has a special grounding wire added called a drain wire. This shielding can be applied to individual pairs, or to the collection of pairs. When shielding is applied to the collection of pairs, this is referred to as screening. The shielding must be grounded for the shielding to work.

Screened unshielded twisted pair (S/UTP)
Also known as Fully shielded (or Foiled) Twisted Pair (FTP), is a screened UTP cable (ScTP).
Shielded twisted pair (STP or STP-A)
STP cabling includes metal shielding over each individual pair of copper wires. This type of shielding protects cable from external EMI (electromagnetic interferences). e.g. the 150 ohm shielded twisted pair cables defined by the IBM Cabling System specifications and used with token ring networks.
Screened shielded twisted pair (S/STP or S/FTP)
S/STP cabling, also known as Screened Fully shielded Twisted Pair (S/FTP), [1] is both individually shielded (like STP cabling) and also has an outer metal shielding covering the entire group of shielded copper pairs (like S/UTP). This type of cabling offers the best protection from interference from external sources, and also eliminates alien crosstalk[1].

Note that different vendors and authors use different terminology (i.e. STP has been used to denote both STP-A, S/STP, and S/UTP) [2].

• It is a thin, flexible cable that is easy to string between walls.
• Because UTP is small, it does not quickly fill up wiring ducts.
• UTP costs less per meter/foot than any other type of LAN cable.

• Twisted pair’s susceptibility to the electromagnetic interference greatly depends on the pair twisting schemes (usually patented by the manufacturers) staying intact during the installation. As a result, twisted pair cables usually have stringent requirements for maximum pulling tension as well as minimum bend radius. This relative fragility of twisted pair cables makes the installation practices an important part of ensuring the cable’s performance.

## Minor twisted pair variants

• Loaded twisted pair: A twisted pair that has intentionally added inductance, common practice on telecommunication lines, except those carrying higher than voiceband frequencies. The added inductors are known as load coils and reduce distortion.