Fiber Optics LAN Section model shows all-fiber networks to be most cost-effective solution

Nov. 3, 2003
Nov. 3, 2003 - Members say the results debunk the prevailing myth that unshielded twisted pair copper is a less expensive medium to install.

A newly-released cost model developed by the Fiber Optics LAN Section of the Telecommunications Industry Association and Pearson Technologies shows all-fiber networks to be the most cost-effective network solution for many LAN scenarios.

The results of the cost model debunk the prevailing myth that unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper is a less expensive medium to install than fiber when evaluating installed first costs. In all 12 of the scenarios featured, all-fiber networks offer the lowest cost solution when compared to vertical fiber/UTP horizontal networks.

A Web conference to review the cost model and its findings is scheduled for Nov. 20 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EST. The Web conference is free.

The interactive cost model was developed as a tool to help users compare the installed first costs of all-fiber networks to those of vertical fiber/UTP horizontal networks. The second-generation cost model updates the version developed more than a year ago by Pearson Technologies and the FOLS, and reflects the fact that costs for optical fiber components and electronics are now lower.

The model uses TIA and ISO standards-compliant centralized cabling and fiber-to-the-zone architectures for the all-fiber scenarios. In addition, since the education market has widely embraced the use of fiber, a new K-12 scenario is included. The cost model can be fully customized to reflect each user's installation.

"The second-generation cost model highlights how much the cost equation has changed over the last 18 months," says John Struhar, FOLS chairman. "When we released our cost model in 2002, it was big news that fiber was at cost parity, or even less expensive than UTP copper in some of the scenarios. Now the news is much bigger - when users leverage the low attenuation and high bandwidth of fiber to centralize electronics, all-fiber networks offer the lowest cost solution in all the scenarios profiled."

The model compares the cost of a horizontal-UTP/vertical-fiber network to the cost of a centralized optical fiber network compliant with the TIA/EIA-568-B.1 standard for commercial building telecommunication cabling. The scenarios are based on an eight-story building with 48 ports per floor. Category 5e or Category 6 cable is used in the UTP networks and either 62.5/125 micron (mm) or 50/125 mm multimode fiber can be used in the fiber scenarios. The horizontal runs average 150 feet in length.

The scenarios offer users the opportunity to review several variations on the model, including list prices vs. street prices, the use of SG-compatible equipment, media converters and 100BASE-SX standards-compliant products (TIA/EIA-785). While some of the results in the model are estimates for comparison, the spreadsheets offer users the ability to enter their own numbers and provide results that will guide them in their choice.

FOLS is based in Arlington, VA. The interactive cost model and information about the Web conference can be found at the FOLS Web site at

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