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Black Box Explains...Shielded vs. unshielded cable

The environment determines whether cable should be shielded or unshielded.

Shielding is the sheath surrounding and protecting the cable wires from electromagnetic leakage and interference. Sources of this electromagnetic activity (EMI)—commonly referred to as noise—include elevator motors, fluorescent lights, generators, air conditioners, and photocopiers. To protect data in areas with high EMI, choose a shielded cable.

Foil is the most basic cable shield, but a copper-braid shield provides more protection. Shielding also protects cables from rodent damage. Use a foil-shielded cable in busy office or retail environments. For industrial environments, you might want to choose a copper-braid shield.

For quiet office environments, choose unshielded cable.