Copper telecom cable has been the number one medium for both long and short-range communications throughout the last fifty years. Even though its usage has been affected from recent technological developments, it is still quite important. In some shape or form, copper cable is still present in most new technologies. As analogue voice telephony upgrades to digital, more copper wire and alloy products are required for use in the telephones and base stations that permit wireless communications. Even in optical fibre systems, copper is still used extensively in interface devices. Copper cable networks can now be used to deliver broadcasting and high-speed interactive services, without being significantly constrained by their capacity.
Likewise, copper cabling forms an integral part of new transmission processes such as HDSL and ADSL (High Digital Subscriber Line and Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Lines) that can extend the message-carrying capacity of existing twisted copper wire pairs to that of optical fiber without switching systems. To deliver a high level of system performance an approved cable should be used that takes into account transmission characteristics such as attenuation, near-end crosstalk and structural return loss. A crucial planning decision involves horizontal distribution, where changes may be difficult to make once the installation is completed. The selection of media must be carefully examined. Currently, the medium of choice for horizontal distribution is unshielded twisted-pair cable.