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Warning issued about bogus cable equipment entering N.A.

The arrival of non-compliant cabling into the North American marketplace is a life-safety issue that needs to be addressed, says Todd Harpel, director of marketing for Berk-Tek.


March 1, 2011  


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The arrival of non-compliant cabling into the North American marketplace is a life-safety issue that needs to be addressed, says Todd Harpel, director of marketing for Berk-Tek.

Harpel made the comment at the recent 2011 BICSI Winter Conference during a presentation he gave on behalf of the Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA).

Formed in 2007, its members include major manufacturers of cable and connectivity products, distributors and material suppliers.

Harpel said the concern is that “some imported product” marked and advertised as compliant to North America fire codes and industry standards is not and that both marks and lablels may be unauthorized.

The CCCA recently completed large-scale, electrical performance testing of Category 6 copper patch cords. Test results showed an 85% failure rate in patch cords produced offshore by companies who are largely unknown in North America.

CCCA submitted a total of 499 samples from 16 brand names of Category 6 patch cords at a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) audited test lab. Their failure rate was zero; however, 322 of 379 patch cords made by offshore manufacturers, not generally known in North America, failed to meet minimum industry electrical performance requirements.

“Cable deficiencies and high margins of failure in patch cords can significantly degrade network performance,” said Harpel.

The association’s first test took place in 2008 with a mix of Category 5e and Category 6 plenum and riser cable.

In his presentation, Harpel outlined the summary of results as follows: All nine failed the physical requirements (TIA 568-B and UL 444), four of the nine failed to meet minimum electrical requirements and four out of five riser cables failed the UL 1666 flame test.

“There were many serious failures,” he said. “All four failing cables burned the entire length of the test chamber. The worst performing cable burned beyond the maximum length allowed in only 45 seconds and reached a temperature of 2000 degrees F.”

Results from a second test using eight samples all manufactured in Asia, contained were just as alarming. “Extreme fire test failures raise serious, unresolved public safety and liability concerns in the event of a fire,” said Harpel. “More than ever, due diligence of quality is needed.

“The question is how could this happen? How could we get this non-compliant product into the marketplace and how can it be so readily available? Certainly there is a desire to reduce costs in cabling projects, so there is a market for it.”

Kevin Ressler, director of business development with Tyco Electronics Corp. and current CCCA chairman, said in an interview that while “we don’t have direct evidence at this time, it is likely that similar dynamics are happening in Canada.

“It can come from a variety of sources. Our concern is not where it is coming from, but what it is.”