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Counterfeit Communication Cabling Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Major Scams in Communication Cabling

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Fake cables manufa­cturers make low-qu­ality products, label them with the name of a legitimate company, pack them in a box and sell them at a fraction of the real prizes, making it impossible for legit manufa­cturers to compete them.

After spending thousands of dollars, the consumer, ends up installing slow networks that don’t deliver their specif­ica­tions for voice, video and data passing. Corpor­ations and homeowners are suscep­tible to other risks because these cables don’t comply with adequate fire and current ratings.

Using steel or aluminum instead of copper

Copper­-cl­ad-­steel or copper­-cl­ad-­alu­minum is a classic method manufa­cturers use to save money. It consists of using an aluminum or steel core instead of costly copper, which causes high attenu­ation and poor signaling. In the long run, network speed will be affected.

Substi­tuting jacket material

Manufa­cturers replace CMP and CMR flamma­bility ratings with inferior non-fi­reproof jacket material. Not every applic­ation requires these standards, but when they are needed it is critical for cables to have them.

Using re-ground plastic

RJ-45 connectors that don’t pass the quality test at the factory and turn out as rejected can be re-ground back to pellets and added to the plastic used to make new connec­tors. This process is legiti­mate, but it can have bad conseq­uences when too much re-ground plastic is used, because it lowers combustion rating. If the connector body has yellowing or foggy plastic, it means that low-qu­ality plastic was used in its making. Another thing manufa­cturers have been doing with connectors is to replace the nickel and gold parts on the metal contact with “gold flash” or “selective plating” - materials that corrode quickly.

Counte­rfeit Cable Burn Test

What happens when a counte­rfeit cable gets put to a burn test. In the video, a cable that passes itself off as being plenum­-rated is subjected to the Steiner Tunnel test, which a cable must pass in order to qualify for the plenum rating. To say the cable fails the test is a signif­icant unders­tat­ement.

UL mark

The first step of course is to check for the UL mark (or a mark from one of the other NRTLs on OSHA's list) on the product. Since UL is the most common of these, that's the mark we're focusing on with this particular article. If it's not there, it's a safe bet that your goods are at best not up to the standards they should be, and at worst straig­ht-up knock-­offs. Once you've located the rating, there are steps to take to make sure it's genuine.

UL marks come in many forms: it might be a label, or it may be die-st­amped, silk-s­creened or molded into a product. Whichever the method of applic­ation, there are FOUR design elements that need to be verified to make sure the UL listing is legit:

The UL trademark: the letters “UL” arranged diagonally (desce­nding left to right) within a circle, with a small ® symbol directly below the U. If the “UL” letters are level with each other, side by side, then you're looking at a phony symbol.
The word “listed” printed either below or beside the circle in all capital letters: LISTED.
A 4-char­acter alphan­umeric control number, or a 4 to 6-digit issue number. In the case of the issue number, it may or may not be preceded by the phrase “Issue No.” as well as 1 or 2 letters.
A product identity phrase that concisely names what the product is.

If any of these elements are missing or does not match the config­ura­tions listed above, the UL mark is about as real as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Snuffa­lupagus