What is important in budgeting a structured cabling project?

Structured Cabling is the infrastructure on which all of your technologies reside. Organizations like BICSI have worked diligently to create guidelines for outlining reliable systems for your workplace. Whether you are in the superhighway of your network at your data center or on cruise control out to a standard user, there is a clear path to proper design and project budgeting.

Based on our experience, we typically see prices ranging from $90.00 to $300.00+ per cable.

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Some factors that contribute to overall cost of the project.


If you have a product standard and are currently not allowing competition on cable brand you are probably paying more money than you should. We encourage you to think outside of the cable box and enjoy the savings. If nothing else, allowing competition for manufactures will drive down the cost.

Cable Types

Plenum or non Plenum? In environments where the area above the ceiling is used as a return air plenum, cabling must be plenum rated. This rating is the most common in the commercial world and is more expensive than a non-plenum cable.

Above Finished Floor (AFF)

How high is the work being performed? Is it ladder work, or do we need to bring in a manlift? A manlift will elevate the overall costs but may be safer and more efficient. Cabling installed in a raised floor environment should be less expensive simply due to not needing a lift or ladders.

Dropped Tile or Fixed Ceilings

Drop tile ceilings are more accessible and do not require restoration efforts. Fixed, or sheetrock ceilings, may require access panels to be cut and then restored, driving the costs higher than drop tile ceiling installations.

Cable Category Rating

Category rating of the cable will affect costs. Category 5E will be less expensive than Category 6, Category 6 will be less expensive than Category 6A.

How many cables per Work Area?

Best practice is to pull two cables to each work area. However, there are many companies today who only install one cable as this still gives you three connections. Think of it this way, one cable to a VoIP phone is actually two connections and using your wireless network, you now have three connections.

Data Center

If your installation has a data center requirement, this will increase the cost per cable. Typically, data centers require expensive cabinets, cable tray as well as higher bandwidth cabling.

Number of Telecommunications Closets

The number of closets in a cabling installation will increase cost. This is due to the additional backbone and IDF room equipment needed. This is usually something you can’t change as closets requirements are typically due to distance limitations of a cabling system. You can control how your rack and equipment is specified to keep cost at a minimum.

Whether you need some rough numbers to reference in your next meeting or you want to sharpen pencils and talk specifics, one of our ASD® experts will be glad to help you with rapid ballpark estimates tailored to your needs or a detailed quote based on your exact specifications. Have any questions? Ask ASD®.

Common Cost Factors for Most Projects

Geographic Location

Where is the project located? Some parts of the country are more expensive than others. Some rural areas may require travel due to availability of the field resources which could increase cost.

Size & Type Environment

Type of environment will impact price. Class A Office, Distribution Center, Manufacturing, Retail, Indoor vs. Outdoor could all impact overall cost.

Labor Requirements

Projects being installed with a Union Labor requirement will be more expensive than projects without the requirement. Some projects require a prevailing wage to be paid to a technician which can also increase costs.


Pathways can contribute greatly to overall system costs. Costs of core holes sizing and cutting slab for conduits needs to be considered in your budgeting process.

Installation Hours

Normal working hours will be less expensive than afterhours or weekends.

New Construction vs. Renovation

New construction will typically be less expensive than renovation.

Local Codes & Standards

Local codes can drive cost as they vary in requirement. For instance, in some locations across the U.S. all overhead cable must run in conduit while others can be supported with J-Hooks in the ceiling.


Permitting varies from state to state and city to city. One city may not require anything more than an application form to receive a permit, while others may want full engineered drawings that go through a plan review process. The full set of engineered drawings carries a substantial price tag that elevates the overall system cost. Another consideration is the time required if the review process is a requirement.

Economies of Scale

What type of structure is being built? A system in a manufacturing plant is developed completely different than a highrise office building. An apartment complex can reuse the same templates for each building; this saves design time and costs.

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