Counterfeit Cables 101

September 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM


Have you ever wondered how some cables are able to be sold at such dramatically low prices? In some cases, it’s because the cables aren’t exactly what they appear to be. Counterfeit cables are more common than you might think.  In fact, we found that cables can be counterfeit from both large and small manufacturers and domestic or overseas sources.


A counterfeit cable is any cable that is sold under false pretenses, where the cable specification doesn’t match the actual product construction. Implying that a cable meets a certain performance standard when it doesn’t, such as Cat6a, is also considered counterfeiting. In most cases, the cables are made with inferior materials so they can be offered at a cheaper price.


One major factor in avoiding counterfeit cables is ensuring that your supplier or manufacturer is consistently checking cable assemblies, proving UL compliance, testing cables and ensuring standards are met.


Here are some things you should be aware of to avoid getting stuck with counterfeit cables:

·  Substituting steel or aluminum for pure copper conductors – This cost saving method also causes the signal strength to drop below noise and cross-talk levels which will lead to problems in a high-speed network.


·  Cable jacket material – If a jacket is CMP or CMR-rated, a legitimate business will offer a signed Certificate of Conformance (CoC) for their products. If there’s no CoC offered, the jacket might not meet rating standards.


·  Selective electrical performance testing – Some manufacturers claim their products were “fluke tested” but don’t run the full patch testing because it’s not easy to pass and it’s more expensive. Legitimate manufacturers will run the full performance testing to ensure their cable meets standards and provide you with the test result documentation.


·  Misleading cable markings – Cables sold in the U.S. have a variety of markings that can be used to look them up on the UL’s database, but that doesn’t always guarantee that the cable is worthy of its markings. A signed CoC is the best way to make sure that you’re not getting a counterfeit cable.


·  Deceiving connector construction – Using cheaper materials will lower the combustion rating for a plastic connector and cause metal connectors to eventually corrode and fail when mated.


·  Wire gauge changes – 25 AWG and 26 AWG cables are often mislabeled as 24 AWG. They best way to test the gauge is to request a sample, cut it open, remove the insulation and measure the conductors.


·  The Golden Sample – Manufacturers may create a golden sample to send to the customer, but cut corners when manufacturing the rest of the order to save money. Creating a quality control system to test the cables in each shipment, unbeknownst to the manufacturer, is your best bet to test for consistency in quality.


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