Buyer beware: Increase in counterfeit cable alerts

There’s a lot at risk if you install non-compliant cable, either knowingly or unknowingly. In addition to low network performance from counterfeit and low-grade cable, installing non-compliant cable can result in violations of state and local building codes and fire regulations. If a contractor installs non-compliant cable and it causes damage, such as a fire, the contractor can face civil liabilities and monetary damages stemming from negligence, fraud, and breach of contract and warranty. In addition, contractors can face criminal liabilities stemming from building code violations. Enforcement can include halting the installation and removing and replacing the cable, which can be extremely costly. Other criminal penalties can include fines and imprisonment. The costs of using counterfeit or non-compliant cable can be very high indeed.

Over the past few months there has been an increase in Intertek Testing Services (ETL) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) warnings concerning unauthorized, hazardous, and/or counterfeit cable. The following alerts have been issued this year:

January 15th, 2013: UL warns of potentially hazardous communications cable

January 28th, 2013: Intertek Testing Services Warns Consumers of Counterfeit ETL Verified Mark

January 31st, 2013: UL warns of potentially hazardous communications cable

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Black Box Cable ETL and Burn Testing

This is the fifth and last post in our series on counterfeit and substandard cable.

Because of all the publicity counterfeit and substandard cable has garnered, especially in the past year, we want to explain how Black Box addresses performance and safety issue through ETL Verification and independent burn testing.

Every three months, an independent Intertek inspector visits us. He goes into our warehouse where he randomly selects  GigaBase® CAT5e and GigaTrue® CAT6 channel components for ETL testing. To ensure that “good” product isn’t pulled only from the most popular items, he mixes up his product selection. In one visit, he may choose green jacks to be tested with white cable. The next, he may choose gray cable and yellow jacks. The items are then sealed up and sent to the ETL lab for testing.

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What to look for in a channel solution

Channel solution. You hear the term a lot these days to describe complete copper or fiber cabling systems. But what exactly is a channel solution and what are its benefits?

A definition.
A channel solution is a cabling system from the data center to the desktop where every cable, jack, and patch panel is designed to work together and give you consistent end-to-end performance when compared with the EIA/TIA requirements.

Its benefits.
A channel solution is beneficial because you have some assurance that your cabling components will perform as specified. Without that assurance, one part may not be doing its job, so your entire system may not be performing up to standard, which is a problem — especially if you rely on bandwidth-heavy links for video and voice.

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