Optical fiber group publishes cable option cost model guide

July 8, 2002
July 8, 2002 -- Spreadsheets will compare installed costs of all fiber networks to copper

The Fiber Optics LAN Section of the Telecommunications Industry Association has published interactive cost model spreadsheets on its Web site that are designed to help network planners make an educated choice about their cabling options in the horizontal portion of their local area networks (LANs).

FOLS members partnered with Pearson Technologies to create models, which are designed to compare the installed first costs of all fiber networks to those which deploy fiber in the backbone and unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper in the horizontal. The cost models can be downloaded from the FOLS Web site at

"The FOLS developed these models because we felt they would help users answer the most common question we get about deploying fiber in the horizontal -- is fiber a cost-effective choice?" says John Struhar, FOLS chair.

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 5 cable is used in the UTP networks and either 62.5/125 micron (?m) or 50/125 ?m multimode fiber can be used in the fiber scenarios. The horizontal runs average 150 feet.

The scenarios offer users the opportunity to review several variations on the model, including list prices vs. street prices, and the use of SG-compatible equipment, media converters and the new 100BASE-SX standard (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.

"Many people know that optical fiber offers several benefits over the life of the network - such as reduced maintenance costs, ease of upgrading and reduced downtime - but the model developed looks specifically at installed first costs," Struhar adds. "Lower lifecycle costs are an important benefit of deploying fiber, but they are also more difficult to quantify. We felt that installed first costs were so critical to our customers that we wanted to focus on them in the model. Additionally, it directly dispels the myth that fiber-based networks are more expensive than copper networks."

FOLS is based in Arlington, Va. For more information about the study contact Andy Dryden at [email protected].

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