The cost of cabling and the case for future-proofing

The cost of cabling and the case for future-proofing

When installing cabling into new properties, renovations, or retrofits, it can be tempting to save money and go for cheaper options that do the job in the present day. But when the needs of modern living are constantly changing, will they still do the job for the foreseeable future? Do the reduced initial costs outweigh those of having to redo the job later down the line?

Christopher Kay, Operations Manager at Custom Designed Cables, explains the benefits of future-proofing:

“Balancing costs and forward planning is a struggle many in the construction industry know all too well, something that’s certainly true for the world of cabling. Take ethernet cables, for example. Cheaper options still do the job just fine, but if you think about how much the demands for internet speeds as well as the speeds available have increased over a relatively short period, it becomes a quick waiting game until they’ll need to be updated.

“Keeping on the topic of ethernet cables, you’ve got your two main options of Cat5e and Cat6.
Cat6 cables generally set you back around 10%-20% more per cable length than Cat5e, but for this increase in cost you get a cable that is 10 times faster, and able to carry up to 10 Gigabits per second compared to the Cat 5e’s 1 Gbps and having twice the frequency.

“While 1Gpbs would’ve once seemed unnecessary for home use, the ever-increasing amount of devices that rely on our home internet, as well as more people working from home has even these once-futuristic speeds looking like they might not be enough – and the need for faster speeds is only worse in offices. Laptops, virtual meetings, and coworking apps all constantly eat up bandwidth, and the demand isn’t exactly going to slow anytime soon. If you’re having new cables fitted and go for the Cat5e option, you’re probably going to have to deal with some tenant complaints down the line.

“Cat6 cables meanwhile prevent these issues for a far longer period, future-proofing the building to a much greater extent. Yes, you’ll have those higher initial costs to contend with, but is saving 20% worth having to consider a full refit after a few years? We’re now up to Cat8 cables which are currently only really needed by buildings like data centres which deal with huge amounts of information transfer; however, this was how people once thought of earlier cables which are now being used in homes across the country. A refit of these cables is always going to be needed sometime in the future as nothing can stay fit for purpose forever, however, this is one instance where sooner rather than later isn’t better.

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