Contractors: You could be liable for non-compliant cable installation

This is the third in a series of posts about counterfeit and substandard cable.

Earlier this year, the CCCA (Communications Cable and Connectivity Association) commissioned a white paper after it tested cables from offshore manufacturers and found that many failed to comply with fire safety specifications. It found that many of the cables are made from low-fire performing materials making them highly combustible. This means trouble for contractors.

The paper was commissioned from the law firm of Crowell Moring to look at potential liability for contractors who install communications cables that do not comply with NEC (National Electrical Code) requirements.

In the white paper, Crowell Moring studied the laws in Connecticut, Virginia, and Florida.  Because each state incorporates NEC into its building codes, a violation of those codes is a state violation. Crowell Moring explains, “Any installed cable that fails to meet the NEC standards, whether known, apparent, or not, opens a contractor up to penalties for those failures.”

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Fraudulent UL marks lead to suits and countersuits over substandard cable

This is the second in a series of posts about counterfeit and substandard cable.

One of the hottest topics during the past year has been the legal wrangling over counterfeit cable. Last year, Anixter sued Commodity Cables, Inc. The suit alleges that Commodity Cables sold substandard off-shore-manufactured cable that did not meet flame- and fire-resistance standards established by UL® and the National Fire Protection Association. Some of the cable in question was marked as being UL® certified or ETL Verified. Anixter is seeking $1 million in damages plus punitive damages for false advertising, unfair competition, breach of contact, and deceptive trade practices.

The basis of the suit stems from when Anixter said it discovered numerous boxes of cable with apparently fraudulent UL marks. Anixter sent the cables to UL for burn testing, which they failed. In December 2010, Anixter recalled all its Commodity Cables products from customers. Anixter has also worked with many customers to remove and replace the substandard cable.

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CCCA presents counterfeit cable presentation at fall BICSI conference

This is the first in a series of posts about counterfeit and substandard cable.

Here at Inside the Box, we’re always trying to find stellar content and industry news. One of the hottest topics in the cabling industry today is the prevalence of counterfeit cable. In a nutshell, counterfeit cable is imported cable marked and advertised as compliant to North American fire codes and industry standards, but it’s not—even though the cable may carry UL® and ETL marks. The subject is extremely serious because of public safety and liability issues about fire and network performance. In addition, there are also legal and cost issues related to contractor liability.CCCA Logo

Today, we want to share the presentation given at the September 2011 BICSI conference by the CCCA (Communications Cable & Connectivity Association). The presentation, titled Non-Compliant Cabling Products: How Big Is the Problem and What Can be Done?, focuses on codes and standards in the cabling industry, as well as what your risks are when installing non-compliant cable.

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Five wireless security bandits

A common vulnerability in wireless networks is in their ability to create unexpected connections that can result in security gaps. Here are five common wireless security bandits to watch out for:

1. The rogue access point (AP). A rogue access point is an unauthorized access point connected to your wired network, generally connected by someone in your organization trying to set up do-it-yourself wireless service. Although rogue access points are usually installed innocently enough, they can provide an unsecured gateway right into the heart of your network.

2. The ad-hoc client. Ad-hoc mode is the ability of wireless devices to connect directly with other wireless devices without accessing an access point. If a computer on your wired network sets up an ad-hoc wireless connection to another computer, that other computer can gain access to your network through the ad-hoc computer.

3. The out-of-compliance access point. Older access points that have not been updated to the latest firmware release may open your network to hackers. Keeping all the equipment on your network up to date with firmware releases will protect your network from attack to known vulnerabilities. Not doing this can weaken security and reduce network performance. Out-of-compliance access points tend to be a problem in organizations that do not have a security policy that addresses keeping all equipment up to date on their firmware releases.

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Five ways industrial devices are different

Industrial environments have much harsher conditions than those found in typical office environments. Not only do they often have extremes of temperatures and humidity, plus dirt and corrosive materials, they may also contain devices such as motors and mechanical switches, which cause a large amount of electromagnetic interference (EMI).

The challenge with industrial controls and network components, as well as with other electronic devices intended for use in harsh environments is to have them function reliably in spite of adverse conditions.

There is a distinct set of features that makes industrial devices different from components intended for office or data center use. These features are:

1. Extended temperature range. Temperature tolerances from -25 to +60° C (-13 to 140° F) are common and you can even find devices rated for extremes to -40 to +75° C (-40 to +167° F).

2. Resistance to moisture and contaminants. Industrial components are housed in hardened cases that are sealed against contaminants including particulates such as airborne dust, as well as moisture and sometimes chemicals. Some extreme environments may require devices with conformal coating, which is a special film or coating applied to electronic circuitry to provide additional protection.

3. Specialized power supplies. Because of the great variation in power available at industrial sites, industrial components are usually sold separately from their power supply. You need to choose the correct power supply to match both the type of power input from the power grid and the output expected by the powered device.

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