Posted by: Paul Kish (Belden) on June 26, 2014
There are many reasons to purchase well-known brands of cable and connectivity from reputable manufacturers like Belden who have a strong industry presence. Verified performance and a comprehensive warranty program like Belden’s 25-Year Warranty can help ensure that your network will perform as expected.
According to a recent article by the Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA), of which Belden is a participating member, there is another reason to go with a reputable manufacturer—avoiding counterfeit cable and connectivity that can pose risks too real to ignore.
Let’s summarize the key points for you here.
What Constitutes Counterfeit Cable and Connectivity?
Counterfeit cables are those that are sold under false pretenses, essentially falsifying that they are compliant with safety and performance standards.For example, counterfeit cables might include bogus marks and labels on their packaging or on the cable legend that indicates they are UL listed, ETL verified by Intertek or compliant with TIA 568-C specifications. In other words, counterfeit cables are purposely meant to deceive.
What Are the Risks of Counterfeit Components?
There’s a good chance that counterfeit cable and connectivity won’t meet industry performance and physical construction standards, ultimately causing poor network performance, invalid system warranties and the potential to damage active equipment due to plugs with substandard physical characteristics. But there is a much greater concern.To be UL listed, both plenum- and riser-rated cables must pass stringent fire safety tests aimed at reducing the spread of fire and heavy smoke that can prevent safe evacuation in the event of a fire. However, testing has shown that counterfeit cables marked as listed don’t always meet the requirements.In fact, when CCCA tested 17 twisted-pair copper cables from 12 different unfamiliar brands, 15 of the samples failed flame spread testing and all 17 failed peak and average smoke density testing. Some failures were serious with extremely fast flame spread times and temperatures reaching up to 1093˚C!
How Can Counterfeit Components Affect Me?
Believe it or not, if you specify, purchase or install a counterfeit cable or connectivity, you could be looking at significant legal ramifications—even if you weren’t aware that the components were counterfeit.First of all, using counterfeit cable is a building code violation that can result in costly cable replacement, potential lawsuits or misdemeanors with significant fines. Jail time in some jurisdictions is not completely unheard of.If installed counterfeit cable ends up worsening a fire that results in property damage or loss of life, you could also be looking at civil liability with potential causes of action that include negligence, fraud or breach of contract and warranty.
How Can I Identify Counterfeit Components?
Identifying counterfeit components isn’t always easy, but often they will feature poorly done printing or typographical errors that don’t resemble the packaging, marks and legends that one would find from Belden or other reputable manufacturers.There are also extra measures one can take. Valid ETL marks are accompanied by a manufacturer’s control number. Test results should be readily available from the manufacturer and ETL listings can be checked through Intertek’s websiteAccessible via the UL website, UL file numbers shown adjacent to a UL label can be verified via UL’s online certification directory, and UL’s credit-card sized hologram authenticator can help verify their unique holographic label.The CCCA also offers a free CableCheck™ mobile app that includes instructions on how to check marks and legends for authenticity, as well other helpful information for field-screening cable.
What Other Actions Can I Take?
In conjunction with industry agencies and reputable cable manufactures like Belden, the CCCA delivers a variety of educational efforts that you can share to help reduce the spread of counterfeit components in the marketplace. And if you happen to come across potentially invalid marks or legends that could indicate a counterfeit component, you can be part of the solution by reporting those cables through the CCCA website.With very low prices and unknown brand names being a common indication of suspicious cable and connectivity, one of the best protections against counterfeit cables and connectivity is to only purchase cable from reputable industry experts like Belden.Our long and respected presence in the industry that includes participation in standards bodies, superior manufacturing capabilities, and fully-tested components that meet or exceed industry standards will guarantee that you avoid any and all risks associated with counterfeit cable and connectivity.Check out our Belden quality certifications for yourself, including our ETL testing certificates and UL listings.