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Is The Copper Cable Really Cheaper Than Fiber Optic Cable?

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-07-24      Origin: Site

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Budget is always one of the most important factor when installing cables. The general impression is that copper cable is cheap and fiber cable is expensive. Indeed it was true in the past few decades. As networks grow, are copper cables really cheaper than fiber optic cables?

copper VS fiber

What's the difference:

Copper and fiber optic cables are different cable types. Copper cables, also known as RJ45 Ethernet cables, carry data through electrical impulses and are ideal for voice signals. There are many types of copper wires, such as Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7, Cat8, etc., which can achieve different transmission speeds. Cat5 Ethernet cables have speeds as low as 10 Mbps at a range of 100 meters. In today's market, however, copper is moving faster and faster. State-of-the-art Cat8 Ethernet cables can now reach speeds of 40Gbps over 20 meters, but be aware that it has significant distance limitations.

Different from copper cables, fiber optic cables are made of fine wool-like glass fibers that transmit data through light. Therefore, fiber optic cables are non-conductive and immune to radio frequency interference. It is naturally more durable than copper and can withstand harsher environments and harsher weather conditions. As for speed, fiber absolutely wins with absolute speed and longer transmission distance. For example, single-mode fiber OS2 can reach a maximum distance of 200km. The table below provides a clear comparison of copper and fiber optic cables.












Spark Hazard


No spark hazard



Susceptible to EM/RFI interference, crosstalk and voltage surges

People always believe the cost of twisted-paired copper cable is cheapper than that of fiber optic cagbles. Is it true? We will discuss it in the following two main factors.

Installation fee

Due to the technical differences between fiber optic and copper cables, they have different installation costs. The electromagnetic interference (EMI) immunity of fiber optics can save users money because they don’t need to run fiber optic cables in conduits to avoid EMI. But copper cables need some protection, adding to the cost of installation.

copper cable VS fiber cable

In addition, in many scenarios, users need distributed cabinets for copper wire networks, but optical fibers are not required due to the long distance. One should not ignore the recurring costs of building communication rooms, air conditioning, ventilation, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) in copper cabling. All of these installation costs will outweigh the additional cost of fiber optic equipment in a centralized fiber architecture. Therefore, if one decides to build a new data center, opting for a fiber-based LAN is a more economical solution than a copper network environment.

Support fee

Fiber optic cables don't cause fires because light doesn't catch fire. This means that fiber optic cabling can save on fire protection costs. And fiber optic cables don't break so easily, customers don't have to worry about replacing them as often. Therefore, the support cost of fiber is lower than that of copper.

On the other hand, the increased demand for fiber optic cables has led to a drop in prices. For example, at FS.COM, a 3-foot Cat6 UTP cable costs $2.2, and a 3-foot LC-to-LC UPC duplex single-mode fiber patch cord is $3. The price difference is small. Therefore, when the price of copper cable is compared with that of fiber optic cable, the cost of copper cable is not much cheaper than that of fiber optic cable.

In conclusion, copper cable is not always the cheapest option when compared to the price of fiber optic cable. When building a new network, one should not overlook the installation and support costs of these different cabling solutions. It is wise to choose one according to the actual installation environment.

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