• United States

Tool for pitting fiber against copper

Jan 27, 20042 mins

* Cost model weighs cost of fiber optics against copper wiring

Sometimes I am asked whether fiber-optic lines or copper wiring is the way to go when setting up a LAN. I usually say it depends on several factors – but I recently came across a resource to help IT managers make this decision.

It’s an online interactive cost model for horizontal cabling, in the form of a spreadsheet. The disclaimer is that it was put together by fiber-optic networker Pearson Technologies and the Fiber Optic LAN Section of the TIA – so you can imagine that there might be a bias toward fiber to the desktop. Nevertheless, it might be useful as a place to start.

This is actually the second generation of the cost model. The first apparently showed that copper wiring could be less expensive in certain situations. But the two organizations say that over the last couple of years costs have dropped in fiber to the point where fiber, particularly in multimode installation, has the edge.

The modelers say, “Reduced cable and component costs, the use of centralized cabling, and the availability of small form fiber (SFF) connectors and media converters all have brought down the cost of installing all-fiber networks.”

I think part of the reason for the shift, too, is that the models upgraded the copper wiring used from Category-5 to more expensive Category-5E and Category-6 unshielded twisted pair wiring. However, I think the modelers are right in assuming that these are the prevailing wiring choices today.

The cost model can be found here (a short registration is required):

Let me know if you try the model and find it useful.