Definition

twisted pair

(Also see categories of twisted pair cabling systems and telephone jacks.)

Twisted pair is the ordinary copper wire that connects home and many business computers to the telephone company. To reduce crosstalk or electromagnetic induction between pairs of wires, two insulated copper wires are twisted around each other. Each connection on twisted pair requires both wires. Since some telephone sets or desktop locations require multiple connections, twisted pair is sometimes installed in two or more pairs, all within a single cable. For some business locations, twisted pair is enclosed in a shield that functions as a ground. This is known as shielded twisted pair (STP). Ordinary wire to the home is unshielded twisted pair (UTP).

Twisted pair is now frequently installed with two pairs to the home, with the extra pair making it possible for you to add another line (perhaps for modem use) when you need it.

Twisted pair comes with each pair uniquely color coded when it is packaged in multiple pairs. Different uses such as analog, digital, and Ethernet require different pair multiples.

Although twisted pair is often associated with home use, a higher grade of twisted pair is often used for horizontal wiring in LAN installations because it is less expensive than coaxial cable.

The wire you buy at a local hardware store for extensions from your phone or computer modem to a wall jack is not twisted pair. It is a side-by-side wire known as silver satin. The wall jack can have as many five kinds of hole arrangements or pinouts, depending on the kinds of wire the installation expects will be plugged in (for example, digital, analog, or LAN) . (That's why you may sometimes find when you carry your notebook computer to another location that the wall jack connections won't match your plug.)

 

Contributor(s): Crawford Parrish
This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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