Many times network designers and installers alike fail to realize how important the structured cabling system that supports network traffic is. The network cabling in your office or home is the backbone of your whole phone and computer network infrastructure and should not be taken for granted. Whether you use copper or fiber to achieve the end means you need to keep in mind a few things; rapidly changing technology, cost of materials, cost of installation and longevity.
Cost of materials is important to keep in mind when choosing the right low voltage infrastructure to install in your home or office. Deciding to use copper or fiber for your installation is a crucial one and should not be taken lightly. Copper prices have really gone up over the past few years with the cost of oil continually going up, on the flip side of that prices for fiber has gone done. Even though prices on copper keeps going up it is still a bit cheaper than fiber. For 1000′ of Cat5e cable which consists of 8 24 AWG copper strands is roughly $ 70 to $ 89 a box, for the same length of 2-Strand, Multimode 62.5/125, Tight Buffer Distribution, Indoor/Outdoor, Riser Rated fiber you’re looking at roughly $ 432, this is more than 4 times the cost of Cat5e bulk cable.
Even though fiber is sometimes 4 times or more expensive as copper Cat5e cable you do get a little more for your money. Cat5e cable is an enhanced version of Cat 5 that adds specifications for far end crosstalk. It was formally defined in 2001 as the TIA/EIA-568-B standard, which no longer recognizes the original Cat 5 specification. Although 1000BASE-T was designed for use with Cat 5 cable, the tighter specifications associated with Cat 5e cable and connectors make it an excellent choice for use with 1000BASE-T. Despite the stricter performance specifications, Cat 5e cable does not enable longer cable distances for Ethernet networks: cables are still limited to a maximum of 100 m (328 ft) in length (normal practice is to limit fixed (“horizontal”) cables to 90 m to allow for up to 5 m of patch cable at each end, this comes to a total of the previous mentioned 100m maximum). Cat 5e cable performance characteristics and test methods are defined in TIA/EIA-568-B.2-2001. Although you are able to achieve 1000Base-T from the copper you are limited to only about 100m of distance where as fiber 1000BASE-ZX Single-mode fiber at 1550 nm wavelength can go to 70km which is roughly 43.5 miles. But for the majority of applications you will not need more than 100m for your cable run if it is used inside a home or office.
The cost of installing fiber vs. installing copper should not have a huge difference in price as far as labor is concerned. Another thing to keep in mind when having cable installed in your home or office is the quality and reputation of the installation company. Do some homework before you go out and pick the lowest bid on a cabling job because I promise you 8 out of 10 times you will kick yourself for doing so. Let me say that again, the lowest price is not always the best price. Like we all have been told since we were very young, “You get what you pay for”. Don’t get me wrong there are tons of companies out there that do quality work at discount rates as they do allot of business and can afford the charge a little less than everyone else.
Cabling infrastructure if installed correctly will outlive the rest of the information systems. A typical lifespan of the cabling infrastructure is 15-20 years. Seventy percent of the network downtime can be attributed to poor cable installation. Investment for a cabling infrastructure is less than 5% of the total monies spend on IT equipment, but this investment ensures that the remaining 95% of the network is protected. Hence, it is important to evaluate the product offerings of vendors and choose the right solution meeting product quality, installation/customer references, etc.
New Millennium Network Services is a Nashville Network Cabling Company where they install and maintain hybrid copper and fiber structured cabling