Doctor Fiber
"Now you probably want to
know what Dog Wash really
is - don't you?  Let me
explain it to you one step
at a time."
• Fiber is more difficult to install than copper
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable – require more stringent and time-consuming installation techniques than those of fiber.
Compared to newer grades of copper cable, fewer regulations exist on the methods by which optical cable is pulled and terminated. In
addition, there is no need to worry about the location of EMI/RFI sources during installation. Furthermore, optical fiber cables are
stronger, lighter and smaller than comparable copper cable designs, and there are few routing restrictions, particularly in areas with
other electrical power cables.  New generations of small connectors are also making it easier to install fiber-based systems. Small
form factor (SFF) connectors have the same size footprint as traditional copper-based connectors. As a result, they help increase
port density and reduce the cost of hubs and reduce jumper costs, and reduce connector and installation costs. Besides ease of
installation, SFF connectors make fiber faster to install, as the connection time per connector is much quicker.  While SFF connectors
reduce connection time, optical fiber itself is capable of supporting runs beyond the 100-meter limit for any grade of copper cabling
available today.  Legacy 62.5-micron (µm) fiber can run effectively up to 300 meters at 100 Mbps, and  50- µm LOF fiber can run up
to 500 meters.
Testing fiber is easy, too. Since fiber cable facilities are not affected by near-end crosstalk (NEXT), and their operating performance is not affected
by frequency, technicians can test runs by simply measuring the attenuation of the optical fiber link. To verify Category 5e/6/6e link performance, tests
must be conducted for attenuation, cable length, crosstalk and numerous other parameters. Technicians must also perform attenuation and NEXT
tests across the entire frequency range of 1-100 megahertz or higher because copper-based system performance changes at different frequencies.  
Transmission at different frequencies does not affect optical fiber. Once fiber works at one speed, it can be upgraded to higher protocols without
sacrificing performance.  Copper cables, on the other hand, may or may not be upgradeable – not just because of the cable itself, but because other
components influence system performance.  In the end, fiber and cable manufacturers have made great strides to meet the demands of those
interested in an easy way to deploy fiber. Technicians used to copper should no longer carry the impression that fiber is any more difficult to install – it
may be different, but it certainly is not any harder than working with copper cabling.
Switching from copper to fiber is expensive – and not worth the trouble
"Fiber is more difficult to install
than copper?  If you believe that,
then you can join me for dinner!"
The question is really - which one would you
rather spend all day installing or repairing?
Fiber has already surpassed the cost parity with copper, even when considering installed first costs.  Now, in many cases,
fiber is actually a less expensive alternative for cabling than copper.

This is driven by several factors:

• Fiber-friendly architectures, such as Centralized Cabling, allow designers to leverage fiber’s high bandwidth and low attenuation
to accommodate longer runs (up to 300 meters).
This allows MIS managers to reduce the number of active electronics in a system – the expensive part – and eliminate the need for
telecommunications closets on each floor of the building as was required in the past.  One still needs, in most cases, some sort of Telecom Room
(TR) on each floor but not the large, legacy rooms of yesteryear. Costs associated with these TR's include the electronics housed within them, the
cost of temperature controls, HVAC,  ducting, primary power, secondary power, grounding, lighting, and power management, not to mention the
loss of valuable “real estate.”  What about the fact that the annual power consumption of these TR's is roughly 2% of the overall power budget of
the building?  One can hear installers right now screaming, "Well we have to have a telecom room for all of our 66 and 110 blocks.  Nope - not if
you have a VOIP telephone system.  Also, when you think about it, one does not need to have lights, power or AC to facilitate the use of 66 or 110
blocks anyway.

• SFF connectors are less expensive, easier to install and have higher port densities than traditional fiber connectors.  Many high-
quality singlemode SC and ST connectors, for instance, can be purchased for less than $3.00 each (Check HERE.)  What is the cost
of a high-quality Cat 6/6e or one of the new "10Gig" UTP modular connectors?  You might be surprised of the difference!

• Use of media converters allows users to migrate incrementally from copper to fiber and utilize existing electronics by converting
the signal between media.  What a better way to upgrade and future proof your network without changing your switches and/or NIC
Cards in your PC.  If you thought you were getting 100Meg to the desk - now there will be no doubt.

• New standards allow users to migrate from 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps and to 10Gbps using low-cost 850 nm Light Emitting Diode (LED)
or low-cost Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSEL's) based electronics instead of requiring high-cost 1300 nm lasers.
A closer look at each element of fiber installation reveals how the big gap with copper costs
has mostly disappeared.

• Cabling component costs: the cost for fiber and fiber-based components (cable, wall outlets, patch panels and cords, and
connectors) has decreased, bringing them in line with the cost of high-speed copper cables.

• Electronics costs: the cost for fiber-based hubs, concentrators and network interface cards for fiber is falling steadily. What’s more,
the industry has developed architectures that allow users to install fewer electronics and reduce overall system costs and has  
issued a standard that supports 100 Mbps transmission over 850 nm LEDs.  Review some of the details about 568B.3

• No recabling costs: because standard multimode optical fiber has proven performance at 2.5 Gbps and beyond, there is no need to
pull new cable to support higher data rates or emerging protocols. Therefore, optical fiber eliminates the expense and disruption
associated with pulling new cable – a concern shared by a large number of businesses that cannot afford to be offline for days at a
time.  Keep in mind that any cable copper or fiber not labeled  for future use must be removed.  How much copper do you think will
need to be removed - as compared to fiber?

• Installation costs: as technicians have become more familiar with handling fiber and because new generation UTP cabling such as
Cat 5e, Cat 6 and above requires more stringent installation parameters, costs to deploy either type of cabling are essentially the
same today.  It's just a matter of looking at the COST PER PORT analysis of new installation designs.

Also, lifetime costs of fiber are lower because:

• With fiber, there is no need to pull new cable each time you upgrade your network.

• Maintenance and downtime for fiber networks are typically less than for copper-based networks. This is because they usually use
fewer electronics – thereby reducing network outages and downtime, are not subject to EMI/RFI interference, and are generally
easier to troubleshoot.  The net result of these benefits is that deploying optical fiber in LANs provides measurable results and long-
term value to businesses of all sizes – whether they are building a new network or incrementally upgrading an existing one.  As the
price of fiber components drops significantly and ease of installation continues to improve, new standards and technologies are
lowering costs across the board.  Accordingly, TIA has worked to address the technology needs of suppliers and end users to better
support the use of fiber deeper into the LAN.  For more information on standards relating to the fiber industry, please visit

Note: To compare copper and fiber costs in more detail for your installation, consult the new Cost Modeling report developed by TIA’
s Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS) and Pearson Technologies. This matrix allows you to compare the costs of legacy networks to
those of fiber-to-the-desk networks. To download a copy of the model, please visit the FOLS Web site at
"I had an installer up in Chicago once tell me that he knows in most cases, that fiber to the desk is less expensive.  
But he also knows that he will loose money in most FTTD installations if he charges the same labor rate as he does
for copper network installations.  So - if he installs any fiber he jacks up the cost of labor to the customer. The
reasoning here is that he will not have the opportunity to go back and re-install cable 5 years later nor will he be
able to factor in much labor (cost per hour) as he knows that fiber installation takes much less time AND effort to
install than most copper networks.  Because of this one issue, he says and I quote, 'I will not offer a customer a
fiber network alternative unless they demand it.'  Makes me kind of sick to my stomach to hear this.  The customer
is definitely the looser here."
A forklift upgrade to fiber is too costly to implement
Dog Wash Myths of Fiber
Optics - Page 2

For these users, media conversion technology offers them a controlled migration strategy.  Media converters do just what their
name implies – the devices convert the signal from one type of media to another, allowing seamless links between different media
and supporting incremental upgrades to fiber.  Media converters also allow users to continue to use their existing electronics,
leveraging their existing investment.

Many small- to medium-sized businesses take the incremental approach to network upgrading, because it makes better financial and
technical sense.  MIS managers at small businesses know that upgrading to a higher grade of cable – either copper or fiber – will
require a substantial financial investment.  Once they understand that they can bring fiber into their network on an as-needed basis,
these network managers will seriously consider choosing this option for the built-in scalability.
Long-term copper users claim they don’t need fiber
Security network managers can consider their fiber infrastructure as a “future proofing” investment that frees them from worrying
about their cabling infrastructure when making system upgrades.  If the day comes when you upgrade to 10Gig and possibly higher
with copper your company could be reaching its bandwidth limits.  It may be time to consider converting your copper network to fiber
and be guaranteed the infrastructure can and will support the additional demand for bandwidth.
"How many times since the beginning of the data transfer era have you heard people say, 'Oh, I'll never need that much
bandwidth.'  You've heard this one for sure.  'You'll never fill up that hard drive.'  If you have a substantial network and have
had to upgrade it over the years, for instance, since the early 80's, how many times have you had to install new cable? In
other words - how much useless copper cable do you have floating around in your ceiling?  Basically if you believe that you
will need no more bandwidth than what copper can provide is a good indication that you believe in Dog Wash AND the tooth
More on the Fiber Optics LAN Section:

The Fiber Optic LAN Section (FOLS) of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is a consortium of
leading 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,
AMP/Tyco Electronics, Corning, Leviton Voice & Data, OFS, Optek Technology, Ortronics, Panduit, and
Sumitomo Electric Lightwave. Visit the FOLS at

This white paper is one of several initiatives underway by the FOLS. For more information about FOLS and
its activities, or to become a member of TIA and FOLS, please visit us at or contact Andy
Dryden at (703) 907-7633 or
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Myths of Fiber Optics
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