Sometimes it can be hard to find straightforward network cabling prices when you’re doing research for an upcoming project. Believe it or not, there’s a good reason for this: It’s because so many different things factor into total costs. This makes it hard for manufacturers to pinpoint “standard” pricing that applies no matter what – because every situation is different.

Sometimes listed prices might be right on; other times, they may not be (whether they’re too low or too high). When it comes to planning a cabling infrastructure project, it’s important to make sure you’re working with accurate network cabling prices so there aren’t any surprises later.

To offer insight into what may impact network cabling prices, we created this short list. There are many other things that could be added, of course, but these are a few that rise to the top. When you’re costing out a cabling system, don't forget to factor in these things.

Tariffs

Taxes on imported goods and services currently influence pricing on many construction materials – not just on cabling and connectivity. Tariffs ultimately increase costs (and make it harder to import certain materials into the United States). This, of course, increases pricing for consumers and can also influence material availability (especially if consumers attempt to buy materials domestically to avoid tariffs).

Right now, tariffs are impacting pricing on thousands of products being imported into the United States. On this list are electronic components and raw materials like steel and aluminum, which directly impacts products made with these materials (such as cable, wire, racks and cabinets, etc.).

When tariffs increase the demand for U.S. materials (because consumers are looking to keep costs down), domestic supply can’t always keep up. This results in price increases even on materials that aren’t being imported.

Inflation

Inflation can significantly impact the accuracy of a cabling project budget. Most budgets are created using current material costs. But these same budgets are typically intended for projects that may not be completed (or even started) for two years or longer. It’s not a safe assumption to rely on outdated pricing data for that reason: Otherwise, when it comes time to start the project, your budget numbers will be off.

Freight

Depending on weight, quantity and dimensions of your cable and its packaging, freight costs can increase network cabling prices.

Don’t forget that freight costs involve more than just shipping charges: They also factor in the type of transportation (truck, train, plane, ship, etc.), packing, palletizing, loading/unloading, etc. We’ve seen freight prices continue to climb, due in part to transportation shortages, which ultimately impacts product pricing.

Construction Activity

When construction spending is up – like it is in the education, government and corporate markets, according to NSCA’s recent Electronic Systems Outlook report – the demand for cable infrastructure components naturally goes up as well (so do network cabling prices as a result). But this can also have a negative impact. When material prices increase rapidly, some owners and developers may hesitate to move forward with building projects.

Material Types & Costs

The type of material used in the finished good you’re purchasing makes an obvious difference in pricing. A simple example is fiber vs. copper: Fiber cables are more expensive than copper. Using category cable pricing won’t translate if you’re trying to install a fiber system.

Copper-clad aluminum (CCA) cables are another good example. Comprised of an inner aluminum core and outer copper cladding, these cables aren’t made of pure copper. For this reason, they’re cheaper. This seems like an attractive bonus to people who may not realize the differences. When used as a cheap replacement for category cable (which they sometimes are), copper-clad aluminum cables won’t work well and don’t comply with current standards. Higher pricing normally leads to higher-quality, more reliable materials.

Product Legitimacy

Not all cables are created equal. Imitation cables, for example, claim to offer all of the same features and benefits as those from reputable manufacturers. But these cables are being sold under false pretenses.

Buyers think they’re getting a cable that still complies with safety and performance standards but at a lower cost (because the marks and labels on the packaging indicate so); however, those marks and labels aren’t real. An imitation cable hasn’t undergone the appropriate measures to ensure that it’s UL Listed, ETL verified and/or compliant with TIA specifications.

What are we missing? What else would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below? And if you have a question about network cabling prices, send us a note – we can help you find the answers you need!

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