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Is Fiber or Cat7 Better for Long Cable Runs


Are your business’ network speeds bogging you and your productivity down? We have been through this before, but it could be as basic as your network cabling! Since optical fiber has entered the game, a new controversy has arisen: Is copper twisted pair or optical fiber the superior cabling option? And which is best for long-distance cable runs? Optical fiber has been a game changer, and one of the reasons why is its ability to transmit data at exceptionally high speeds for exceptionally long distances. Your sluggish network speeds could be due to a cable being ran too far for its capabilities and your expectations of its performance. Are Category ethernet cables becoming a thing of the past? Does that make fiber the thing of the future?

Can it Go the Distance?

How far is the cable run you are attempting? What speeds are you expecting out of your equipment at these lengths? Even the latest generation of copper cabling cannot meet the distance that the simplest of optical fiber cables are capable of. The maximum bandwidth of a Cat7 cable is 40 Gbps (Gigabits per second), but only up to 50 meters, after that the bandwidth drops noticeably to 10 Gbps. Cat7’s maximum cable length is 100 meters in total but may only be as effective as you need up to 50 meters.

There are many different varieties of optical fiber cables to choose from. However, single mode fiber optic cables are typically the most commonly used for lengthier cable runs as compared to multimode fiber. They are capable of transmitting data up to 60 miles! No Category ethernet cable can even come close to those specs! The most you are ever going to effectively get out of a copper cable as of right now is 100 meters.

Contrasting Capabilities

Both optical fiber and copper cabling have their pros and cons, but one still might just outweigh the other…

One of the concerns regarding copper cabling, whether it is shielded or not, is outside noise and interference, otherwise referred to as crosstalk. Optical fiber does not conduct electricity, therefore, it is much less susceptible to interference or any crosstalk as compared to copper cabling, no matter how long the cable run is. When it comes to copper cabling, the longer the cable run is, the more interference there is going to be.

Regarding its composition, optical fiber cabling is smaller in diameter than any generation of ethernet cable. Because of this, they can fit in tighter spaces and are easier to bend, twist, and turn during installation. Fiber also has greater pull tension compared to copper cabling. Fiber’s pull tension rates range from 100 to 220 pounds while copper cabling has a maximum limit of only 25 pounds.

Optical fiber’s bandwidth also blows Cat7 clear out of the water, even though Cat7 cables have perfectly acceptable max network speeds of 600 MHz (Megahertz). Cat7’s speeds aren’t an issue typically until after 50 meters (depending on your business’ needs of course). That’s why optical fiber is the best choice for lengthier cable runs.

Price Differences

One reason optical fiber has become more widely used is the recent price drop we have seen across the market. Fiber cabling used to be the pricier option in the past, but recently we have seen a drastic drop in its prices. So much so, that it could be the economically right choice for your business! Optical fiber ranges from $2 to $4 per foot while copper cabling runs at about $1.50 to $7 per foot, depending on which Category of cable that is being looked at. Some of the hardware, such as the connectors for optical fiber, are cheaper than the connectors for twisted pair cabling as well, bringing down the cost for optical fiber cabling even further compared to twisted copper wire.

Brace for Impact: The Future is Here

We all stream audio and video every single day, and maybe even all day. It’s a pretty big part of our modern, everyday lives. High Definition streaming and multimedia demand higher network speeds and bandwidth capabilities. Optical fiber is qualified to meet all of these break-neck demands!

Would you rather be forced to replace your network cabling later on or would you rather just make the right choice for your business now? Installing optical fiber cabling guarantees your network’s quality and capabilities for the foreseeable future, keeping you up to date now and later.

Always do your own research as well! Many technicians may prefer copper if they have been in the business for a while due to extensive experience with the material. Copper cabling has been around for much longer, therefore, they have had much more time to work with it, and they are going to be much more comfortable working with it. Don’t let a stubborn technician change your mind on what you want and need for your business!

In Conclusion

Overall, optical fiber is the best choice for your long-distance cable runs because of all of its amazing qualities that make it to be the optimal cable choice for you. Let’s go over it all again:

Single mode optical fiber can transmit data up to 60 miles as compared to Cat7 cables that are only capable of transmitting data 100 meters, or .062 miles for an easier comparison. Cat7 cables are susceptible to interference and crosstalk compared to fiber, especially the longer the cable run. More cable results in more noise when it comes to twisted copper wire.

Installing optical fiber cabling guarantees your network’s quality and capabilities for the foreseeable future in this ever-changing world where technology is becoming more and more demanding every day. Because of this demand, fiber has become the cheaper choice recently, even dropping below certain copper cable prices, making fiber the economical choice for your company! Don’t let something as simple as an improper cable run be the variable dragging down your productivity and your business.