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How Much Does Fiber Optic Cabling Installation Cost?

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Summary: Fiber Optic Cable Installation Cost Per Foot

On average, fiber optic cable installation costs $1 to $6 per foot depending on the fiber count. It's very difficult to estimate an exact price for an entire building to be wired, however an example would be $15,000 to $30,000 for a building with 100 to 200 drops. Fiber optic cabling is somewhat more expensive up front than copper cabling, but the greater capacity and reliability of fiber can actually reduce long-term costs.

What is Fiber Optic Cable?

Fiber optic cables are composed of strands of glass or plastic fiber that are as thin as a human hair. Surrounding the center glass core is cladding material and a buffer coating. Unlike traditional coaxial and twisted pair cable, which transmit electronic signals, fiber optic cabling transmits light. This gives fiber cables the following advantages:

  • The ability to carry signals hundreds of times further than copper wire
  • Extremely high bandwidth
  • Greater reliability (due to electromagnetic interference resistance)
  • Thinner and lighter weight than copper wire
  • Non-flammable

Fiber Optic Cable Considerations

  • Fiber optics is often used in local area network (LAN) backbone cabling, although the technology is increasingly used for desktop cabling (connecting individual workstations to the network). It's sometimes argued that the high bandwidth supported by fiber optics isn't needed at the desktop, but as the use of bandwidth-hungry applications increases, the added potential will prove useful.
  • There are two types of optical fibers: single-mode and multi-mode. Multi-mode fiber has a larger core and can transmit multiple signals per fiber, whereas single-mode can only transmit one signal per fiber. Multi-mode is typically used for shorter distance applications (such as premises cabling).
  • A cost comparison of copper cabling and fiber optic cabling must include both short-term and long-term costs. Fiber optic cable, electronics, and terminations are somewhat more expensive than Cat5 or 5e counterparts, as is fiber optic installation. But the longer links support by fiber means that telecom rooms and their attendant costs (floor space, operating power, and temperature control) can be eliminated. Fiber's definitive performance edge also plays a role in cost, especially when future growth—of both the enterprise and data—are considered.

Additional Resources

Fiber Optic Cabling Average Costs

  • Expect to pay $1 to $6 per linear foot for fiber optic cable installation (depending on the fiber count) plus the cost of connection hardware and terminations.
  • The cost to wire an entire building or facility with fiber optics is very difficult to estimate, as many variables come into play. As a reference point, installing Cat5/Cat5e cabling in an office building with roughly 100 to 200 drops costs $15,000 to $30,000. Don't assume that fiber optic cabling is more expensive.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) offers fiber optic cable installation costs for various projects. Note that these projects may be on a much larger scale than a typical business.

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