New TIA cost models compare installed first costs of copper and fiber cabling

June 13, 2002--The Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS) of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has published interactive cost model spreadsheets on its Web site that help network planners make an educated choice about their cabling options in the horizontal portion of their local area networks (LANs).

Jun 13th, 2002

The Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS) of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has published interactive cost model spreadsheets on its Web site that 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. These cost models may be downloaded by visiting 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?" explanis John Struhar, FOLS chair and distinguished member of the technical staff at OFS. "We teamed with Eric Pearson, as he has direct exposure to many end users, hears the questions that are in the field, and has considerable experience in the challenges of comparing these types of network decisions."

The model compares the cost of a horizontal-UTP/vertical-fiber network to the cost of a centralized fiber-optic 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 (um) or 50/125 um 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 versus 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," adds Struhar. "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."

"As the demand for bandwidth in the LAN continues to multiply and as new, larger and more complex applications reduce existing capacity, network managers face a growing dilemma while building their networks to meet employee usage. Should they deploy new grades of UTP copper, invest in an all-fiber infrastructure or use a hybrid cable system?" asks Herb Congdon, chair of the Standards Committee for FOLS and director of fiber systems marketing and technical support at Tyco Electronics. "In many scenarios, an all-fiber network costs the same as UTP copper, or even less, and we feel that value demonstrated by fiber in the cost models, in addition to its advantages in performance, are two compelling points for network planners to consider."

The Fiber Optics LAN Section of TIA is a consortium of fiber optic cable, component and electronics manufacturers. The FOLS focuses on educating end users and influencers about the technical advantages and affordability that optical transmission brings to local area networks and fiber-to-the-desk applications. Member companies of the FOLS include 3M/Volition, ADC, AMP/Tyco Electronics, Corning, Corning Cable Systems, Leviton Voice & Data, Micro Linear Corporation, OFS, Optek Technology, Panduit, Ortronics, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave and Transition Networks. For more information, visit www.fols.org.

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