TIA FOLS debuts third version of its premises cabling cost model for fiber vs. UTP deployments

July 15, 2004 Nashua, NH--The third generation of a premises cabling cost model, which analyzes the deployment costs of a fiber-to-the-desk network vs. an horizontal unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper/vertical fiber architecture, will debut on the Telecommunications Industry Association Fiber Optics LAN Section (TIA FOLS) website this month, reports Senior Editor Kathleen Richards.

July 15, 2004 Nashua, NH--The third generation of a premises cabling cost model, which analyzes the deployment costs of a fiber-to-the-desk network vs. an horizontal unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper/vertical fiber architecture, will debut on the Telecommunications Industry Association Fiber Optics LAN Section (TIA FOLS) website this month. The new model is much easier to use and it allows network planners more flexibility in analyzing customized deployment scenarios.

TIA FOLs first released its fiber vs. UTP copper cabling cost model in May 2002. The interactive model was developed by TIA FOLS and Pearson Technologies. The idea was to offer network planners a cost model that examined the whole network deployment including labor costs, rather than traditional cost models, which typically considered only electronics, cabling and connectivity. The first version, which featured 12 deployment scenarios, such as SG-compatible equipment at list price, SG-compatible equipment at 80%list price, K-12, fiber to the zone, tier-one electronics from mixed price sources, among others, usually found that centralized fiber offered a lower cost solution than traditional hierarchical star networks in about 50% of the cases.

Last year, TIA FOLS and Pearson Technologies updated the pricing information for the fiber and UTP cabling, components and switches. List pricing from a broader range of manufacturers was also included. The UTP cable was upgraded from Category 5 to Category 5e in nine scenarios, and to Category 6 for the remaining 3. FOLS also added 3 additional deployment scenarios. As a result of the new pricing information, the centralized fiber network showed a lower total initial cost in most deployment scenarios.

User-friendly
Roughly 1,100 people worldwide have downloaded the cost model since its inception. In late 2003, TIA FOLS conducted a user survey, and the results provided some useful feedback. "People liked the concept of the model but it was not user friendly," says Liz Goldsmith, a spokeswoman for TIA FOLS.

As a result, the third version of the cost model is now on one-page with an accompanying Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and the model data includes explanatory comment fields, such as "rounded up to the whole switch," or "rounded up to the patch panel."

"You know what assumptions are being made instead of guessing," says Goldsmith.

This version of the model is also more customizable. For example, non-formula cells where data can be changed are now highlighted for easy navigation. The building in the model's deployment scenarios has eight stories and 48 ports per floor. Cost is analyzed on a per port basis. The number of floors, and the number of ports can be changed, and network planners can insert their own information into the different deployment scenarios by hand, or by selecting from a list of options.

One criticism of the TIA FOLS premises cabling cost model, is that it uses its own assumptions for the costs of building the telecommunications room (TR) in the all-fiber architecture. The all-fiber TR is 50% smaller than the standardized 6x10 ft. TR per floor used in the UTP model. The TR, and some of the built-in assumptions regarding it, lower costs in the all-fiber deployment scenarios. Developers of the model point out, however, that the size of the TR in the all-fiber scenarios could have been reduced further. In addition, testing and network maintenance costs for fiber vs. UTP, which are not included in the model, would lower costs in the all-fiber deployment scenarios.

To receive the 2004 Cost Model, which debuts this month, network planners and others should go to the TIA FOLS website, and register. The link to the new version of the model will be emailed to all registrants.

--K. Richards

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