Is shielded cable better than unshielded?
Whether or not shielded cable is better than unshielded depends on a number of environmental factors.
A cable shield helps to prevent electromagnetic noise leaving a cable or interfering with signals being carried by the cable. With Cat5e or Cat6 cabling, a shield isn’t normally required unless excessive electromagnetic noise is present, such as in a factory. Even then, the noise-cancelling function of the twisted pairs should be enough without shielding.
Cat6a can run 10Gig Ethernet up to 100m so noise becomes more of an issue. Shielding reduces this noise, enabling the necessary standards to be achieved. Unshielded Cat6a cables are available but they are more bulky.
Shielded cables need to be correctly grounded and this creates additional cost but, in most situations, shielded Cat6a cabling is a better choice than unshielded.
To summarize, under normal conditions, choose unshielded for Cat5e and Cat6 but shielded for Cat6a.
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