How much does it cost to install a hardwired computer network?
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Hardwired Computer Network Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Despite the growing popularity of wireless and Bluetooth technologies, there is still a lot to be said for the security and dependability of a premium hardwired computer network. This is one of the best solutions for those who want a network that features high speeds and premium stability. Routers might deliver fast enough on the uploads and downloads, but nothing compares to the speed and reliability of a hardwired computer network. Plus, a hardwired computer network offers far better security protocols than what’s currently available for wireless technology, making it the ideal choice for anyone who wants a secure, reliable, high-speed network that isn’t at the mercy of limited technology.
The national average price for installing a hardwired computer network is between $2,500 and $4,500, with most people paying around $3,800 per 2,000 feet CAT-6 cable with up to eight connections in a new construction. At the low end of the spectrum, however, you can opt for the installation of CAT-5 in an existing space with existing network components for $1,000. At the high end, you pay up to $6,000 or more for a fiber optic cable installation in an existing space with eight connections and a dedicated patch panel.
Cost to Wire Ethernet in House
|Computer Network Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$3,800|
Cost of Networking in a New Construction vs Existing Building
There are two different situations in which you may need to install a computer network. You may need to install it in an existing building, or you may be building a new home and need to have it installed while building it. In the former, you might have purchased a home that didn’t have a hardwired network (such as an older home), and you might need to install a network now. In the latter, you might already know that you want a hardwired network in your future home — and be working with a builder to install it.
When cabling is installed in an existing building, the entire process is more complex. In a new construction, cabling is installed as the walls are put up. Before the drywall sheets are erected, the cabling is placed, making the process a lot easier.
In a building that has already been built, the wires have to be run through existing walls, requiring the opening of walls, patching them, and pulling cable through blind areas. If it’s an older or historic building, this could also require circumventing certain areas to avoid disrupting the appearance of the building. Cuts may need to be made and patched into walls. There may even need to be holes bored in non-structural framing.
The price of networking in new construction is lower than in an existing home because less labor is involved. Adding a computer network as part of new construction averages $1,000 to $5,000, while installing a custom computer network in an existing home usually averages $3,000 to $8,000.
|Type of Construction||Average Range (Installed)|
|New Construction||$1,000 - $5,000|
|Existing Building||$3,000 - $8,000|
Computer Network Cost by Part
The parts required for a network installation will be specific to the installation’s needs. A professional can provide the exact parts and hardware necessary and optional items that could improve network performance.
The table below shows the average price of each component. However, your prices may vary depending on the quality of the component needed. Some of these devices may already be available from a prior installation. For the sake of project estimating, we are only including the necessary parts of the network, with all averages based on the sample project of 2,000 feet of CAT-6 cabling.
Note that the cables your installer will use may look different than the cables you might buy at a big box store to hardwire your electronic devices. The cords that feature the connectors on each end are meant for consumers and are known as patch cords. Professional installers will use the same categories of cables, technically, but they’ll come in a roll of 500 or 1,000 feet, so the installer can cut lines at the precise lengths needed to run within the walls for each drop. The installer will also add the RJ45 jacks wherever they’re needed rather than buying cables with those connectors already installed. These large rolls of cables cost less per foot than the consumer cables that already have the jacks attached to each end.
|Network Component||Average Prices (Materials Only)|
|Plates and Plugs||$10 - $25|
|RJ45 Jacks||$10 - $25|
|Switch||$10 - $100|
|Modem||$50 - $100|
|Router||$80 - $120|
|Computer||$800 - $1,000|
|Cable Drop||$2,000 - $3,000|
Network Plates and Plugs
You will spend $10 to $25 on network plates and plugs. Networks cannot thrive without the appropriate power and connections. You may need to install additional wall plates, electrical outlets, and other connections to help the network run properly. Be sure to get the right accessories and components so that the network functions, even if it increases the project price. You should map out your network plates and plugs in advance and place them wherever you know you’ll need a connection.
Ethernet Port Cost (RJ45 Jacks)
RJ45 Jacks, also known as “registered jacks,” along with their wall-mounted plates, will run from $10 to $25. RJ45 are connectors required for Ethernet access to local networks. You may not need any of these, but you will probably need at least a couple. The number of RJ45 Jacks needed impacts the final price because they are priced per unit. Whether you need an RJ45 Jack depends on whether you’re going to have internal networking available. This is common in offices but less common in residential buildings.
A network switch varies significantly in price, costing from $10 to $100. Some routers have only one LAN or WAN port, which will require installing an Ethernet switch that allows you to access multiple network devices. Some routers include a built-in switch, so you’ll want to discuss this with your technician. For a 2,000 foot installation, it is not likely that you would need a heavy-duty network switch, but commercial switches can run into the thousands.
Your modem connects you to the internet at the price of $50 to $100. While some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have high-quality modems that are good enough to use on a computer network like this, it may be necessary to purchase your own modem for the best quality and data speeds. Your installation tech can advise you on this. Your modem will control your data speeds, bandwidth, and the reliability of the entire network.
A dedicated router should range from $80 to $120. The router is responsible for routing Internet access to various computers and other network devices. These typically have the option of wireless access. You will need to consider how that impacts the security of your network and decide whether or not you want to use Wi-Fi at all. Then, you can choose the appropriate router for the job. It should be noted that you can get a combination of a router and a modem, which will be about as expensive as either.
Assuming your computer network needs a computer, the computer cost ranges from $800 to $1,000. The hardwired network may be installed on one computer or multiple systems. Depending on how many computers will be on the network, the installation process may take longer and cost more. But most people will already have a computer or server in mind when they start their computer network installation, or it will be a different budget line item altogether.
Your biggest expense, the cable drop, will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. The cable drop is simply the industry term for the actual cabling of the hardwired network. It’s the most important part of the installation. Cabling involves running the cable from the connection point to each network access point or computer. The number of drops or runs required and the length and type of cabling impact prices. Access will also matter. If it’s harder to run the cable, it will cost more.
Ethernet Installation Cost by Type of Cable
The type of cabling that you choose for your computer network affects the costs. Cables are priced differently based on their type, capabilities, and other features. Cable selection is something you will want to discuss with your installation tech to ensure that you choose the best type of Ethernet cable for the job.
In the table below, you’ll see a breakdown of the cost for each type of cable based on the example of 2,000 feet of cable and the national average price per foot. This price is for the cable only and does not include labor fees.
|Cable Type||Price per Foot (Materials Only)||Price for 2,000 Feet (Materials Only)|
|Coaxial||$0.06 - $0.17||$120 - $340|
|Twisted-Pair||$0.10 - $0.13||$200 - $260|
|Fiber Optic||$0.80 - $4.60||$1,600 - $9,200|
Typically, coaxial cable costs between $0.06 and $0.17 per foot. Coaxial cable is probably the most common type of cable. This standard black cable (or sometimes white or gray) includes the pin-style plug and connects to a cable jack in the wall. This cable is becoming less common, but it is the most affordable solution for those who want a hardwired network but may not have the budget for fiber optics or even CAT cables.
CAT cables will cost between $0.10 and $1.13 per foot. Twisted pair cabling is more commonly known as the CAT family of cables. CAT-5, CAT-6, and CAT-7 are the most popular, but many cable classes are available. CAT-5 is made of twisted copper cables, while CAT-6 is constructed of standardized cable that offers much higher speeds. CAT-7 is the newest, offering a shielded cable that reduces network interference and crosstalk.
The two types of cables available are UTP and STP. These stand for unshielded twisted pair and shielded twisted pair. Shielded cable costs more but offers more network security built right into the cable. Unshielded cable is the most common choice.
Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optic cable cost per foot is $0.80 to $4.60. Fiber optic cable is a newer option that offers better technology for long-distance communication. These cables include thin strands rather than copper wire and can travel further distances. This cabling typically costs up to five times more than the other options but is invaluable in many applications.
Fiber optic cabling is available in single-mode fiber (SMF) and multi-mode fiber (MMF). SMF cable can use one light mode at a time, while MMF can be used to preprogram multiple light modes for bigger bandwidth and speed.
Twisted Pair Cable Price by Category
Twisted pair cable costs between $0.10 and $0.70 per foot. The cost varies significantly because there are different categories of ethernet cables available with varying performance levels.
In the table below, you’ll see a breakdown of the price of each type of cable available for Ethernet networking today. Prices in the table reflect the cabling with labor fees included. It should be noted that, when buying twisted pair cables in bulk (such as for a 2,000 sq.ft. home), costs may be cheaper since you will pay a fraction of the per foot price.
|Ethernet Cable Category||Average Cost per Foot (Installed)|
|CAT-5||$0.56 - $1.13|
|CAT-5e||$0.58 - $1.17|
|CAT-6||$0.90 - $1.55|
|CAT-6a||$1 - $1.60|
|CAT-7||$1.35 - $2.11|
|CAT-8||$1.57 - $2.39|
The average price of CAT-5 cable is $0.56 to $1.13 per foot. CAT-5 is the most basic cable available for network installations today. This cable reaches up to 100 Mbps and perhaps a little higher under certain conditions. Some higher-capacity installations will not be able to use this cable. Many technicians will not recommend using CAT-5 in some situations, but it remains an option. It is available in lengths up to 100 m.
CAT-5e cable offers slightly better performance than standard CAT-5 at a minimally higher price of about $0.58 to $1.17 per foot installed. CAT-5e cable is similar to CAT-5 but offers a slightly higher frequency rating and performance of up to 125 Mbps. This cable is also available in lengths up to 100 m and uses twisted pairs to prevent crosstalk. Today, you will mostly only find CAT-5e cable or higher.
CAT-6 cable typically averages about $0.90 to $1.55 per foot on average. CAT-6 cable is the choice that almost all network technicians recommend for new installations. This cable performs better because it is wound more tightly and supports speeds up to 10 Gbps, but only for about 55 m. Those who need longer cabling solutions will not reach the highest speeds, but even the “low” speeds on CAT-6 trump the CAT-5 cables by a long shot.
This cable costs about $1 to $1.60 per foot installed. CAT-6a is a slightly improved version of CAT-6 cable, offering optimal performance and better crosstalk removal. This cable provides up to 10 Gigs at longer distances than standard CAT-6 cable; however, it gets a little more expensive. For those who want premium network speed and reliability with minimal performance issues, this cable is worth the investment.
CAT-7 cable typically costs $1.35 to $2.11 per foot. Many providers tell people not to worry about CAT-7 cable. However, there are some applications where this higher level 9 of performance is necessary. Hardware is still catching up to this cable option, but it can offer 10 Gbps at a full 100 m. This enhanced performance is something that high-end networks will soon be demanding if they aren’t already. This cabling also uses GG45 jacks instead of RJ45.
This cable costs an average of $1.57 to $2.39 per foot. CAT-8 cable is not a common option for network installations just yet. Most of the available hardware and accessories cannot keep up with the demands of such a connection, so the money is wasted when the hardware limits the speed. CAT-8 cable is capable of speeds over 40 Gbps with a frequency of up to 2000 MHz.
Labor Cost to Install Computer Network Wiring
Typically network installation technicians charge based on the price of materials and the labor alone and then factor in other variables as needed. The labor fee is a big factor in determining what you will pay for a hardwired computer network installation. Currently, the average labor rate is around $50 to $100 per hour, paid to a network installation technician. Rarely will there be a flat rate.
Most new construction installations take multiple days of work. Contractors usually estimate that it will take 30 to 40 hours to install 2,000 feet, depending on the complexity, whether it’s a new or existing network and other factors. This works out to $1,500 to $4,000 in labor costs.
The installation process timeline is variable because it involves running cables, installing necessary hardware and accessories, configuring the network, securing cables, and other elements that vary significantly from one job to the next.
If you are replacing a network or installing a new cable in a building with existing cabling, you may have to pay to remove old cables. The cost to remove old cables will also be charged at $50 to $100 per hour and takes an average of 1 to 3 hours. This could range from $150 to $300 for removal, on top of other costs. Years ago, old cables were rarely removed and were always left in place. Today, many fire codes demand that you remove the cables. In terms of hourly labor for the installation itself, labor cost per hour is similar to a new construction installation, but the process takes more time. Thus, the labor costs will be higher.
One factor involved in network complexity and cost is the number of rooms that need to be hardwired for the network. Installing three access points in one room is much easier than installing three access points in three separate rooms. Be clear about how many separate rooms are included in your estimate or survey so that you get an accurate price.
Suppose an electrician is needed to assist with the network installation to add outlets, relocate wiring, repair wiring, and resolve electrical issues to ensure the network operates properly. This will incur an additional $40 to $120 per hour.
Add-On Costs to Your Computer Network Installation
A computer network installation is about more than just the wiring. The wiring creates the infrastructure. But most computer network installations will also include computers, printers, network hubs, routers, and so forth. The cable installation ensures that devices on the network can talk to each other. However, other devices are needed to make it truly a network. Depending on the type of network you’re creating, you could need all or none of these devices.
|Network Device||Average Price (Device Only)|
|Network Hub||$10 - $50|
|Cable Management System||$10 - $85|
|Patch Panel||$10 - $100|
|Wi-Fi Repeaters||$15 - $80|
|Other Devices||$60 - $500|
A network hub will cost from $10 to $50. Network hubs are essentially very simple switches. They provide a node to which multiple devices on a network can connect. A complex network installation may need multiple network hubs that connect to switches, routers, and modems. Network hubs are most frequently used in commercial installations rather than residential installations.
Cable Management System
You could spend as little as $10 to $20 on Velcro strips and cord keepers for a small network, but cabling systems could cost hundreds of dollars for premium organization. Generally, systems with more cables or extended lengths cost more to organize. If you need to take special care to keep cables out of reach from pets and young kids, organization is even more important. For five foot cables, metal cable management strips range from $25 to $85, and rubber cable runners average $10 to $18.
Once you install a hardwired computer network, you will have many cables running throughout your home. In some installations and new construction, the cabling can be done behind the walls to ensure everything is hidden and routed properly. Organizing exposed cables is a little trickier, but it will behoove you to invest in a cable management system. Typically, allowing the installation technician to add the cable management system during the installation won’t add much to your estimate. There are Velcro strips, rubber cable runners, and plenty of other options.
If you need a patch panel, you will spend between $10 and $100. A patch panel works similarly to an Ethernet switch. The switch routes data from the devices to the server. The patch panel has a cable that runs from the device to a nearby desk, which would require a patch to connect the networks. This is an addition to your Ethernet switch that makes it easier to allow and terminate connections from various network devices for managing network and computer cables as a part of your new hardwired network.
Another device you may want is a Wi-Fi repeater or extender. A repeater repeats Wi-Fi signal throughout a home. They range from $15 to $80 and are sometimes referred to as Wi-Fi range extenders. Though you may be installing a hardwired network, that does not necessarily preclude Wi-Fi. Still, most hardwired networks have Wi-Fi signal for internet-of-things devices and mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. If you have a large house with multiple bedrooms or a multi-level home, a Wi-Fi extender is more likely to be needed to access the Internet from anywhere in the house.
There are many other devices that you might want to connect to your network, which may increase the utility of your working space. Depending on the device, you will pay from $60 to $500. At the low end, you’ll find a simple device that just does a minimal task. At the higher end, you’ll find devices that are Wi-Fi capable, can be controlled with an app, and otherwise have all the “bells and whistles.” The type of device you choose depends on the purpose of your network. For instance, if you want a home entertainment network, you might concentrate on a home media server rather than a printer. Some of the most popular devices are often used in a home office, including printers, scanners, and fax machines, although these are less used nowadays.
How Much Does Internet Cost per Month?
The monthly price of Internet service also has to be factored into your investment. After all, you need to ensure that you have an internet service that stands up to the demands of your network. The average broadband Internet cost paid by most people is around $40 to $110 per month. Considering the speeds needed for a standard recommended CAT-6 or higher installation, you may want to consider upgrading to a higher package, which may average $110 to $300 per month. Here are some of the top Internet Service Providers (ISPs), their price per month for Internet access, and the speed offered at that price.
Most of these introductory pricing offers expire after the first year or two of service. You may also be required to pay setup fees, one-time activation fees, installation fees, equipment rental or purchase charges, and other costs. Internet setup is usually the most expensive part. If you are not participating in an introductory offer or need higher speeds, you can expect to pay more than the prices listed below. Also, check for additional charges that may be incurred for data overage, late payment, or cancellation.
|ISP||Speed||Average Monthly Fee|
|RCN||50 - 940 Mbps||$20 - $50|
|Cox||25 - 1,000 Mbps||$30 - $100|
|Verizon||200 - 1,000 Mbps||$40 - $90|
|AT&T Fiber||300 - 1,000 Mbps||$50 - $80|
|Spectrum||200 - 1,000 Mbps||$50 - $110|
|Xfinity by Comcast||50 - 2,000 Mbps||$65 - $300|
Ethernet Pros and Cons
Why would you install an Ethernet computer network? In a hardwired computer network, wires are dropped directly through the walls, so you have hard-ired access (plugs) to your internet service wherever you want it. This is compared to a traditional installation, where your telecommunications service provider drops a single line in your wall, and everything else runs off of Wi-Fi connected to a single modem.
Hardwired computer networks are faster, more reliable, and have lower latency. A hardwired computer network is easier to secure and use (particularly important for those who work or do business at home). It improves the value of the property because it is more convenient.
When using an already established Ethernet network, users only need to plug in their devices, which will already be ready. Further, an Ethernet network can always be turned into a Wi-Fi network, while the reverse is not true.
But there are downsides to an Ethernet installation. It is a major expense upfront and can be disruptive. You might need to break into and patch walls. They can get easily damaged if you have pests, such as rodents. It also may need to be updated and modified in the future if the technology gets faster.
Ethernet vs Wi-Fi
We have already mentioned the security aspect of Ethernet or hardwired Internet versus Wi-Fi technology. However, the biggest factors for most people installing a network for residential or commercial use are speed and reliability. While Wi-Fi devices have come a long way, they simply can’t keep up with the performance of a hardwired network that uses premium Ethernet cabling.
Wi-Fi speed capabilities have improved in recent years, but reliability is still an issue. On the other hand, Ethernet is reliable, dependable, and capable of producing speeds of up to 10 Gbps or higher with premium cablings like CAT-6 or CAT-7. Wireless internet experiences more interference and crosstalk, which leads to further reliability issues. Then, latency may also be an issue. While it might be a matter of seconds or even milliseconds, Wi-Fi has a lag compared to wired Internet. Ultimately, Ethernet is ideal for home networks because it is more reliable, faster, lags less, and provides greater security.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- DIY. While just about anyone can hook up a standard Internet connection these days, a hardwired computer network is not a project that you should take on by yourself. Unless you are a skilled IT professional or electrician that understands the complex nature of cabling and connecting all of the ports, wires, and networks, it can be quite a chore. Plus, one wrong move can cost thousands in additional work, repairs, or redoing the entire network with professional installation. It’s always best to work with professionals for the best-hardwired network.
- Estimates. Always get at least three to five estimates from professionals. You should consider getting estimates from IT providers and electricians and those who specifically work with network installations for home use. Although getting the job done right is your priority, shopping around for the best rates should still be on your agenda. Plus, you want to make sure that your estimate is accurate, and you can’t do that if you only get one.
- Network security. The type of security that you choose may incur additional costs on your project. Some free services allow you to monitor your network and save some money. You should also keep your firewall turned on at all times. Also, install an outbound firewall to keep your information in and keep other people out of your network. There are many ways to reduce the price of network security so that you can spend your money elsewhere on the project.
- Networking location. Keep in mind that where you install the central network impacts the overall price of this project. For example, installing a network in a small attic or closet space will have higher labor costs because the area is difficult to access.
- Color of the cable. Your installer will use one of several ethernet cable colors, including gray, yellow, white, orange, or blue. Using a particular color or colors may appeal to the aesthetics of the installation, improve cable management, and make it easy to tell which cables run to each connection point.
- Can you run an Ethernet cable through the air duct?
While you may run an ethernet cable through an air duct, doing so may violate building codes. The National Electric Code Section 300.22(B) indicates that the only wiring allowed in ducts is the wiring necessary for the ducts to operate.
- How much does it cost to get an Ethernet port installed?
The price for a single Ethernet port installation is around $60 to $225. The Ethernet port itself and a wall-mounted panel costs between $10 and $25 and takes one to two hours to install, at a labor rate of $50 to $100 per hour.
- How much does it cost to install Ethernet through the house?
The cost to install a hardwired home network is around $2,500 to $4,500. This includes 2,000 feet of CAT-6 cabling with all necessary components, hardware, outlets and switches, and labor fees. Some projects can cost as little as $1,000 for smaller jobs, while large custom networks may cost up to $6,000 or more for residential installation.
- How much does it cost to have CAT-5 installed?
The cost of installing 2,000 feet of CAT-5 cable is $200 to $400 in materials and $50 to $120 an hour in labor ($1,500 to $4,000 for 30 to 40 hours). CAT-5 is cheaper than CAT-6 and CAT-7 and costs about 20% less to install on average. However, its use is deprecated, and most professionals recommend installing CAT-6.
- What is a network cable installation?
A network installation is a process that involves installing a high-speed, Ethernet-based Internet network in a home. This network connects all computers and devices to a central access point (server) and provides a seamless, in-sync network that functions better than just using standard Internet access.
- Should you bundle Internet with other services?
Whether or not you bundle Internet service with other services depends on your needs. Some ISPs offer better deals for higher speeds if you package with your landline phone, mobile phone, or TV service. Compare standalone plans to bundles to determine the best option.
- How much does it cost to get a coax cable installed?
In terms of materials, coaxial cable costs $0.20 to $0.50 per foot. A 2,000 foot installation would cost $400 to $1,000 in materials and an additional $1,500 to $4,000 in labor. Coaxial cable is probably the most common type of cable. This standard black cable (or sometimes white or gray) includes the pin-style plug and connects to a cable jack in the wall. This cable is becoming less common, but it is the most affordable solution for those who want a hardwired network but may not have the budget for fiber optics or even CAT cables.
- Is Ethernet faster than Wi-Fi?
Ethernet speed and Wi-Fi speed are both controlled by modems, routers, switches, and ISPs. Wi-Fi speeds can be bottlenecked by routers, while Ethernet speed can be bottlenecked by the type of cable used. But the average speed of an Ethernet connection is 45 to 100 MBps, while the average Wi-Fi speed is 12 to 25 MBps. The type of cable and technology you choose, in addition to your ISP, greatly impacts your speeds.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
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