Upgrade to Cat 6 Cabling Cost

How much does it cost to install an upgrade to Cat 6 cabling?

One of the first things many "techies" will ask is why they would want to wire their home with cat6 (category 6) cables when there are wireless routers readily available everywhere? The reasoning is simple - not all networks can function over the limitations of wireless networks. Additionally, cat6 cable is the only modern option capable of guaranteed bandwidth of 200MHz.

Though massive buildings may be unable to easily upgrade, small buildings and home offices will definitely want to make the leap. The cost of cabling to Cat 6 is $250 for every one thousand feet. For this discussion we will look at the costs of installing ten lines of Cat6 (with an average of 200 feet per line) the average home office to such service.

The project parameters indicate that roughly $500 of cable is required, and the average electrician costs will be roughly $50 per point of connection - meaning that another $500 will be necessary for proper installation.

Cost breakdown

Unless the homeowner is knowledgeable in running cable, cutting and making connections, and the specific equipment needed to use the upgraded lines, the installation of all new cable is not a "DIY" project. Traditionally installation is done by an experienced IT specialist or electrician. This project will include:

  • Proper measurement of distances to be covered. Cat 6 cannot run at lengths over 330 feet, and since it does not bend or twist without resultant problems, precise schematics of the layout and locations is necessary;
  • Ensuring that cat6 is not abutting any AC source is an essential part of the process since this would create induction and cause degradation of the signals in the LAN or cat6 cable;
  • Installation of the network switches in the network panel or networking equipment;
  • Appropriate RJ-45 connectors for the ports and all hardware installations;
  • Laying cables along existing lines and through walls, floor/attics, and directly to telephone outlets or wall switches. This is where the issue gets somewhat difficult as many experts stress the fact that cat6 cable cannot be stressed, bent, or pulled in any way if it is to function without any problems;
  • Replacing standard telephone covers with dual telephone/Ethernet 1 covers if this is the way that all users will access the network equipment;
  • Cutting, crimping and connecting cables where necessary (this can be very difficult and time consuming due to the fact that cat6 cable is notorious for its tight twisting and difficulty in cutting);
  • Provide electrical work and all wiring to code - This is going to depend upon the amount of work required, but electricians average from $65 to $85 per hour, and IT specialists even more. Any given project might be priced on a per item basis, or the installer might simply craft a bid based on the number of tasks to be performed. Generally, it is recommended to have an installer perform several projects while in the office or building.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Removing pre-existing cables to take accurate measurements; and
  • Hiring a per hour laborer to lay cable in attic or crawl spaces and snake it to connection points without following previous installations.

The wisest course of action for a cat6 upgrade is to work with a professional who is knowledgeable about all of the facets of handling this somewhat testy new material.

It is a good idea to seek at least three bids before selecting the provider if doing a full upgrade project as this will improve network reliability, performance, speed, and accessibility. A home office or business owner should also make a habit of requiring references from those working on their network systems or equipment, ensuring that the installer has adequate proof of insurance, and should also obtain information about warranties on the work.

Those opting to do a "DIY" installation should make a pointed effort of studying the requirements for cable configuration, twisting, dressing, and connections to ensure functionality.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Ethernet: A system used to connect computers to form a local area network (LAN). A LAN allows computers in the same area to access shared data. It is also used for metropolitan area networks (MANs), such as for an entire city or campus

Cost to install an upgrade to Cat 6 cabling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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