A poor internet connection can ruin certain online activities like streaming a movie or playing video games.
Switching from WIFI to an Ethernet cable can help increase your internet’s performance.
However, purchasing an Ethernet cable can be quite expensive for a few reasons.
Why Are Ethernet Cables So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of an Ethernet cable is around $30.
Ethernet cables are expensive because of the cost of materials which can impact certain factors like the type of Ethernet cable, its length, and whether it’s made for indoor or outdoor use.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Type Of Ethernet Cable
You might be wondering what the different categories mean when it comes to buying Ethernet cables.
For example, when shopping for a cable, you may notice that the business labels its Ethernet cable as Cat-6, Cat-7, or even Cat-8.
You may wonder what that means and how it impacts the price.
Cat essentially refers to the Ethernet cable category.
Not all cables are the same.
Some are better at transmitting data than others.
Some are also better at transmitting data across long distances than others.
While many cables classify as Cat-1, Cat-2, Cat-3, Cat-4, and Cat-5, they’re either obsolete or used for specific situations.
For a time, Cat-5 was the go-to Ethernet cable.
However, as the internet became more advanced and people needed faster data transmission speeds, Cat-6 replaced Cat-5.
These days, Cat-8 Ethernet cables can provide some of the fastest data transmission rates.
However, it’s also the most expensive type of Ethernet cable.
That’s because it contains new, improved materials and more sheathing.
In particular, internal sheathing can reduce the amount of crosstalk between the wires.
Since they’re more expensive to manufacture, the price of Cat-8 Ethernet cables is more expensive.
Ethernet cables are expensive based on their categories.
2. Length Of Ethernet Cable
The length of the Ethernet cable can certainly impact its price as well.
Here’s the deal with Ethernet cable lengths.
It costs a certain amount of money to produce an Ethernet cable.
There are several parts both externally and internally that you don’t always see.
Externally, you might see the sheath and connector.
Internally, however, you’re unable to see the various wires twisted together.
You’re also unable to see what’s inside the connector unless it’s transparent.
If you were able to see inside it, then you’d notice lots of wires and various small electrical parts all working together to transmit data.
All those parts cost money.
The manufacturer spends a certain amount of money to make its cables.
Certain parts are more expensive than others, too.
If an Ethernet cable is long, the manufacturer has to spend more to make it.
They need more materials to extend the length of the cable.
Since the cost of manufacturing the cable is higher, the price for the cable is going to be higher.
There’s also some perceived value to a longer Ethernet cable.
People who need to connect their laptop or PC to a router far across the room will find a long Ethernet cable more valuable to them than a short one.
It means they won’t have to buy several short Ethernet cables and an adapter to connect them all together.
It might even save them money in the long run.
Ethernet cables are expensive because the longer they are, the more materials they require during manufacturing.
3. Cable Sheath Material
Back in the day, Ethernet cables or related types didn’t have as much sheathing as they do now.
Cat-1 cables, for example, were actually phone lines used to connect land phones.
They featured thin wires that rarely had much sheathing if any at all.
As a result, it wasn’t uncommon for disruption to occur with landlines.
That also goes for dial-up internet.
If you’re old enough to have been around when the internet first came online, then you likely remember dial-up internet.
You had to plug your router into a phone jack for the internet.
To this day, many companies still use phone jacks to provide internet.
Dial-up internet used early Ethernet cables, and since they didn’t have as much sheathing as today’s cables, a lot of disruption could occur.
The familiar sound of the computer attempting to connect to the internet is a result of that disruption.
These days, Ethernet cable manufacturers spend a good deal of money on sheathing materials.
Not only do the best cables have external sheathing, but they also have internal sheathing.
The good news is that all that sheathing provides better data transmission.
The external sheathing is great for keeping the cable, itself, protected.
Whether the cable comes in contact with water or someone steps on it, the wires are safe.
The internal sheathing keeps the wires from crosstalking with each other.
That helps decrease the chances of disruption occurring.
You receive better and faster data transmission as a result.
However, that also means that manufacturing costs are higher.
Ethernet cables are expensive because sheathing materials increase the costs of manufacturing which leads to higher prices.
4. Price Of Copper
Copper is a common element used in Ethernet cables.
This is a great material for data transmission because it has lower electrical attenuation.
This means that copper interferes less with the flow of electrons.
Electricity can pass through copper without as much difficulty as it might with other materials.
For example, some companies that make cheap Ethernet cables will often use aluminum instead of copper.
The problem with aluminum is that it doesn’t have as low electrical resistance as copper.
It isn’t able to transfer electrons as quickly.
You might be wondering what this means for internet speed.
Since copper has lower electrical resistance than aluminum, it’s able to transfer data and electrons a lot faster.
That results in faster internet speeds.
There are a few other benefits of copper Ethernet cables, too.
For one, it also has a higher resistance to oxidation.
Oxidation is a real problem when working with electronics.
Certain materials can start to degrade when exposed to air, sunlight, or even water.
When a material degrades, it becomes less and less able to transmit electrons or data.
Copper has great resistance to both oxidation and corrosion.
As a result, copper Ethernet cables tend to last longer.
The problem with copper Ethernet cables is that they tend to be more expensive.
That’s especially true for copper Ethernet cables that use just copper and nothing else.
Copper is an expensive material because it’s in high demand.
Its conductivity capabilities and its ability to reduce heat exposure make it ideal for plumbing and electrical use.
Since it’s in high demand, manufacturers have to pay top dollar to source it.
That results in higher manufacturing costs and higher prices.
Ethernet cables are expensive because using copper in them leads to higher manufacturing costs.
5. Brand Name
The brand name of an Ethernet cable can certainly impact its price, too.
Brand names tend to put a “brand tax” on any product the brand produces.
It’s not an actual tax, but it does make up the markup prices a bit higher.
Well-known brand names can put higher prices on their products because they’ve built strong reputations for themselves.
Over the course of several years, the brand has proven itself as a reliable company that produces high-quality products.
It relies both on advertising and word-of-mouth to show that its products are superior.
As a brand becomes more ingrained in society, everyone gains a general understanding that the brand produces great products.
A sense of trust forms between the consumer and the brand.
The consumer knows that by paying a bit more money for a branded product rather than a generic product, they’re sure to get a product that works and works well.
Some well-known brand names that produce Ethernet cables include the following:
Ethernet cables from these brands tend to be on the expensive side because of their associated brand names.
The brands have proven over the years that they produce cables that perform well.
Since they’ve established that sense of trust, they can increase the prices of their respective cables.
Ethernet cables are expensive when they come from well-known brands.
6. Customized Ethernet Cable
While companies tend to produce many different lengths and types of Ethernet cables, you might find yourself needing a bit more specific.
Some companies will make a custom Ethernet cable just for you.
For example, you might want the best in Ethernet cable technology with a cable of a certain length.
You might want gold and copper used in your cable and need the cable itself to be 15 feet long.
You can put that sort of order in with a certain Ethernet cable company, and they can make it for you.
The problem with custom Ethernet cables is that they are far more expensive than standard cables on the market.
That’s because the company is using resources specifically for you.
You have to pay for the costs of producing the cable on top of the markup prices to ensure the company makes a profit.
Depending on the manufacturing costs and markup percentage, you could end up with a very expensive Ethernet cable on your hands.
The good news is that you also have an Ethernet cable that fits your needs perfectly.
Ethernet cables are expensive when you have them custom-made due to higher manufacturing costs and markup percentages.
7. Marketing Costs
The Ethernet cable market is very competitive.
A company can make only so many variations without having to reinvent the whole thing.
As such, Ethernet cable companies have to spend a lot of money on marketing.
Through marketing, the company can claim and show that its Ethernet cable is the best.
The company with the biggest marketing budget tends to be the winner.
However, that means the company has to fund that marketing budget from somewhere.
Having a large amount of revenue allows them to pull those funds.
That results in higher prices.
Ethernet cables are expensive because companies need higher amounts of revenue to fund marketing campaigns.
8. Gold Prices
While copper is one of the most expensive materials used in Ethernet cables, it isn’t always the most expensive material.
Some Ethernet cables will have certain parts of the cable that are plated in gold.
Even though it’s gold-plated instead of solid gold companies are still using gold.
They’re paying a lot of money to source that gold.
Gold isn’t a cheap material.
That’s a cost that the company will have to cover with higher prices.
Gold provides a few advantages, too, and can often boost performance.
As such, there’s a market for people who want gold-plated Ethernet cables.
However, they’re going to have to pay high prices for them.
Ethernet cables are expensive because the price of gold is high.
9. Outdoor Ethernet Cable Costs
While many people typically use Ethernet cables indoors, some need them outside.
Someone who runs events, for example, may need an outdoor Ethernet cable to help businesses have meetings outside.
Others might have an outdoor office that requires Ethernet cables.
Businesses may also need Ethernet cables that run outside.
Outdoor Ethernet cables tend to be more expensive than indoor Ethernet cables because they require higher-quality materials.
There are more dangers outside than inside.
Rain, for example, is one of the biggest threats.
As such, the company has to use more expensive materials to ensure the Ethernet cable is safe and effective to use outside.
Ethernet cables are expensive because outdoor Ethernet cables tend to have higher manufacturing costs.
A final reason Ethernet cables are expensive is that they’re durable.
Most manufacturers invest in high-quality materials to protect Ethernet cables.
That results in higher costs.
However, it also means that most people tend to buy only one or two Ethernet cables in their lifetime.
The cables last a long time.
While there may be a new evolution of cables over time, most people will simply keep using the same cable until it stops working.
This means that fewer people shop for Ethernet cables regularly.
Since companies can’t rely on frequent repeat sales, they have to receive as much money as possible from single sales.
That usually means putting a higher price on the product.
Ethernet cables are expensive because they’re durable.