Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cable Buyers Beware of Low Grade Cable

When you go out and purchase cable to install in your home, whether it is Coax Cable, LAN Cable, etc., you should always make sure you are getting what you pay for. Like everything else in life, when you are buying cable and you come across a deal that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

I have been in the business of selling telecommunications cable and components for years. And every year it seems that more and more low priced substandard cable is flooding the market. This is a rapidly growing problem as it effects many people. It personally effects my business because I only sell high quality cable that is UL Listed, but I have to face competitors that are buying cheaply made cable and passing it off as the best thing since sliced bread. Some of these manufacturers are even putting UL labels on this low grade cable even though it is not UL verified.

This cheap cable is making its way into many homes and buildings across our nation. The good news is that a few people are getting the results they want from this cable and I say more power to them for saving some money and getting the desired result. On the other hand, there are many other not so lucky people that are having to rip out this inferior cable and pay additional money for quality cable and installation because there network was too slow or just didn't work. There is nothing worse than paying for something twice, so be diligent when you are purchasing your cable and make sure that you are getting quality cable with verifiable UL or ETL certifications. Also, if your installer is providing the materials for the job then you better make sure that he/she is diligent in this process as well.

You may be asking yourself, "How can there be so much bad cable on the market especially with UL labels on them"? Well this answer is simple. Many manufacturers will build quality cable: have it tested: get a legitimate UL number and then have some Chinese factory put that number on substandard cable to save costs. For instance, the compounds used to make plenum rated cable are much more expensive than those used in riser rated cable. So if you used riser materials and call it plenum you save tons of money and maybe someone dies as a result. One manufacturer offered to sell me the same "PLENUM" cable they are shipping to other suppliers. It consisted of insulating some pairs of the Cat 5e cable with plenum rated FEP and the other pairs with riser rated insulation. It would save me over 25% on our cost of PLENUM cable. I refused the offer, but I'm sure many sellers out there haven't or won't.

As I mentioned earlier, this problem has been growing and growing, and finally it is starting to come full circle. The Communication Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA) are major players in the Telecommunications Cable Industry and they have begun the process of trying to clean up this mess. They are gathering information to try and weed out the dishonest and/or ignorant suppliers. The CCCA is a well funded and exclusive organization with plenty of clout with both testing agencies like UL as well as enforcement agencies like the Federal Trade Commission. So hopefully their efforts will stop this inferior cable from flooding our markets or at the very least slow it down.

So when you are in the market to purchase telecommunications cable be aware of the inferior cable that is out in the marketplace. The best thing to do to ensure that you are getting quality cable is to ask questions. Ask for a spec sheet and make sure all the specs meet or exceed the standards set for that type of cable. Ask the seller for the UL number on the cable (if it is UL Listed then the number will be printed on the cable, so don't buy cable that has no UL number), and then go to UL's website to verify this UL number. Another good thing that you can do is ask for the shipping weight of a cable and compare it to others.........I purchased two boxes of cable from a competitor because I beleived it was low grade cable due to the fact that they were selling it for so cheap. My suspicions were confirmed when the two boxes of the Cat 5e Riser Cable weighed the same amount as one box from my warehouse. Cat 5e standards call for bare copper conductors which is what I sell, but these guys were selling cable that had Copper Clad Aluminum conductors and they were still calling it Cat 5e which is a flat out lie. Aluminum is much cheaper and lighter than copper and not as good of a conductor. So these guys are using cheaper materials as well as saving money on shipping costs in & out because the cable weighed less. No wonder they could sell it so cheap. CABLE BUYER BEWARE!!!!

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