Network planners often choose copper cabling for their LAN infrastructure because they think it is less expensive than fiber. But is it? The TIA Fiber Optics Tech Consortium offers an interactive tool that compares the price of various standards-compliant LAN architectures, including the installed first costs of both fiber and copper media. It also allows you to input your own data to get the most accurate comparisons. Here’s a closer look at how the tool can help you find a model that will best suit your installation
Choose Your Architecture
Your first step when using the tool is deciding which architecture to review. There are three options you can choose from, depending on your cabling needs:
Input Your Variables
The tool enables you to input user density based on your project. For example, if you have a building with eight floors and 48 users per floor, you can model a network that accommodates 384 users. You can also specify Ethernet speed, such as gigabit Ethernet with Power over Ethernet. If you’re incorporating fiber into your existing copper architecture, your cost model will need to include a way to convert Ethernet from fiber to copper. A media converter is one solution that can help you do that.
The model’s pricing comes from PEPPM.org, a technology bidding and purchasing program. It assumes that the current labor rate is $60 per hour. Using the example above, including the gigabit Ethernet and media converters, the model provides the following costs:
Hierarchical star: $238K, or $619 per port
Centralized fiber: $529K, or $1,377 per port
FTTE: $162K, or $423 per port
These numbers suggest that the FTTE architecture is the least expensive. Compared to the hierarchical star, it would enable you to push fiber deeper into your LAN while staying price competitive and eliminating telecom rooms.
Find the Right Fiber
Another consideration for upfront costs is your fiber choice. You can compare three options: bulk fiber with anaerobic adhesive connectors, bulk fiber with pre-polished connectors, and custom pre-terminated fiber.
Using the same example above, if your FTTE layout has runs to two telecom enclosures per floor, you’ll have 16 runs total. If each run is 80 meters long, that’s a total of 1,280 meters of six-fiber plenum distribution cable. In this case, you will have to terminate 16 10GE links, or 32 fibers or 64 connectors.
Maintain a Healthy Network
Besides supporting your LAN infrastructure, fiber also brings many long-term benefits to your network. It can significantly enhance your system’s security, expand bandwidth and extend network reach. Fiber is also future-proof. It has minimal maintenance costs and requires no upgrading. And when you consider the total cost of ownership, the numbers are even more compelling.To learn more about the benefits of applying fiber to your existing copper infrastructure, download our brochure "When Security Is on the Line."