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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 08, 2010

CCCA Wireless Network Testing Finds High Failure Rate in Copper Patch Cords

By Raja Singh Chaudhary, TMCnet Contributor

The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA), a nonprofit corporation that aims at supporting the needs of the networking, IT and communications industries, announced the results of its recent electrical performance testing of Category 6 copper patch cords. Within these tests, the organization found around 85 percent failure rate in patch cords produced in other countries by companies who are unknown in North America.

The company also tested a large sample set of Category 6 copper patch cords produced by a number of well known manufacturers, which showed 0 percent failure rate. Copper patch cords are deployed in connecting network devices for signal routing, such as wall outlets, patch panels, switches and routers.

In the year 2008 and 2009, a communications cable testing program had been conducted which demonstrated that the non-compliant copper data communications cable imported into North America featured a potential fire safety hazard; and the new patch cord testing program by CCCA is a continuation of the initiative.

Under the testing procedure, the organization tested 499 samples manufactured by 16 brand names of Category 6 patch cords at an Underwriters Laboratories (News - Alert) (UL) audited test lab. During the testing, 322 of 379 patch cords made by offshore manufacturers who are not much known in the North American region, failed to meet minimum industry electrical performance requirements as specified in TIA (News - Alert) 568-C.2.

Out of the failing samples around 78 percent couldn’t make it to the standards by a margin of 3dB or more, while 45 percent of them failed by margin of 6dB or more. The noise levels are measured on a logarithmic scale, which implies that a failure by 3dB failure means the noise level is almost twice as high as the allowable standards, implying high risk of potential network problems had these cords been deployed.

The testing pool also comprised of 120 Category 6 copper patch cords from well-known manufacturers in North America, and all of them demonstrated a 100 percent pass rate when the results arrived. It was also found during the testing that none of the failing products deployed independent, third party testing laboratories to verify quality, while a number of independent testing agencies offer patch cord testing and verification programs to provide a level of quality assurance to buyers.

“Once again, we see disturbing test results that seem to fit the pattern uncovered with our testing of offshore bulk data communications cable,” commented Frank Peri, executive director at CCCA, in a statement. “The overwhelming failure rate of these offshore patch cords is very unsettling, suggesting that the manufacturers exporting these products are likely aware they are selling faulty products. The lack of third party verification with lesser known brands should put all users on alert to be sure they are getting the performance they expect and are paying for.” 

In November 2009, the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, Inc. announced that the prevalence of offshore-manufactured communications cable products which fail to meet industry fire safety requirements continued to plague the industry and marketplace.

Raja Singh Chaudhary is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Raja's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard