Switches cheaper than hubs

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I just noticed that 10/100 Ethernet hubs are actually more expensive than 10/100 switches. For instance, at Amazon:

Netgear DS104 4 port hub38.95
Netgear FS105 5 port switch35.95
Linksys EFAH05W 5 port hub31.84
Linksys EZXS55W 5 port switch25.99

Some guesses:

  • They just sell more switches than hubs so it's an economy of scale thing.
  • It's economy of scale but because the 10/100 switch is the same platform internally as the 10/100/1000 switches (GigE normally only comes in switch form) they sell a lot of that platform and so they're cheaper.
  • It's market segmentation: people who need hubs need them for some reason (like they want to sniff traffic) and can't make do with switches (both taps and switches with port mirroring are a lot more expensive) to the manufacturers take the opportunity to charge them more.
Anyone know enough about the low-end networking hardware business to know for sure?

87 TrackBacks

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Well, I can say this is a fairly recent event. I bought most of my home networking gear 3-5 years ago and I remember that switches tended to sell for a small premium (like $10 for a 4-5 port) over hubs.

Guessing as to the cause, I'll note that most of the router/ap/firewall/gateway boxes that these companies sell have a switches (not hubs) backing the wired ports of the device. And these devices have become a lot more common in the past prew years. Given that, I'd wouldn't be surprised that economies of scale have now made the guts of a switch cheaper than the guts of a hub, explaining the change in relative price.

You are assuming that the things that are labelled "hubs" are actually hubs. That's not a good assumption. I have bought a couple of these in recent years, and they're actually switches. (I need hubs in the test labs so I use Ethereal to watch packets fly by.) I just bought a batch of old Netgear hubs becasue the lab keeps expanding.

I strongly suspect they're called "hubs" because some people are told to go buy an Ethernet hub, so there should be something there to sell to them.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong here. If someone knows of an actual cheap 10/100 hub, by all means let me know.

Well, I have a bunch of Netgear DS108s that definitely are hubs. I don't know if the current models are. I just ordered a Linksys 5-port, so I'll know soon if it's a hub or a switch.

That said, my question still stands. If hubs are actually switches, why are the "hubs" more expensive.

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